Could electric scooters become the new bikeshare?

A souped-up kids' toy is turning into a hot transportation option for adults.Cities are taking interest in ele...

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 4:13 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2018 4:13 PM

A souped-up kids' toy is turning into a hot transportation option for adults.

Cities are taking interest in electric scooter-share systems as an affordable commuting alternative to cut down on pollution and traffic congestion.

The electric scooters, which weigh between 30 and 40 pounds, reach speeds of about 15 mph.

In September, Santa Monica, California, became the first U.S. city to have an electric scooter-share service. Users find and unlock one of the more than 1,000 scooters with a smartphone app. A ride costs a minimum of $1, and then .15 cents for each minute of riding throughout the beach town.

Bird, the startup operating the scooter-share, picks up the scooters every night to charge them, and places them around Santa Monica each morning for commuters.

The company was created by former Uber and Lyft executive Travis VanderZanden after he realized ridesharing services didn't have a positive impact on traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

Related: Electric bicycles emerge as a hot trend in the U.S.

Since its September 2017 launch, Bird's system has served more than 50,000 riders who have taken 250,000 trips -- more than half of which have been in the last month. It's since expanded to Venice, California, and some neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Diego. Bird plans to expand to dozens of markets by the end of 2018.

Competitors, backed by Silicon Valley investors, are emerging. Two dockless bikeshare startups, LimeBike and Spin, have announced plans to deploy electric scooters in cities this year.

Meanwhile, another rival, URB-E, has sold thousands of foldable electric scooters to consumers since 2015. The company's electric scooters range in price from $900 - $2,000.

Late last year, it began renting URB-Es on the University of Southern California's campus. It plans to launch its own shared service in cities such as San Francisco and New York by the end of the year.

"It took a couple years for the mass market to realize this is not a toy industry or for rich people," said URB-E CEO Peter Lee. "But this solves an everyday commuter problem, no matter your social class or how much you make. It was seen as a novelty three years ago, but now it's seen as a necessity."

Electric scooters have also captured the attention of Mayor Pete Buttigieg from South Bend, Indiana. The city, which has limited transit options due to its moderate density, is interested in using them as a way to improve transportation access. South Bend was one of the first to embrace dockless bikeshare systems, which allow people to park rented bikes on public land.

Related: It's a make-or-break moment for U.S. bikeshares

"We love to be early adopters," said Buttigieg. "If we satisfy the safety puzzle, we would be open to welcoming the technology."

But there aren't clear best practices for where electric scooters can be ridden, how fast they can go or if a helmet should be worn.

Santa Monica recently took the electric scooter startup Bird to court for not having an appropriate business license. On Wednesday, Bird agreed to pay over $300,000 in fines.

"We need to make sure these new transportation systems are lawful and safe for users," Constance Farrell, a spokeswoman for the city of Santa Monica told CNN. "We would like to see motorized scooters continue to operate in the city. They are in line with our focus on multi-modal living and carbon-light living."

According to Farrell, there have been eight accidents, including one with a serious head injury, in Santa Monica after the scooters rolled out. In some other cases, police officers have issued tickets for improper use of the scooters. Users are required to have a driver's license, shouldn't ride on sidewalks or have other passengers on board.

Bird has given out free helmets to some riders and tells its users to ride in bike lanes, but some users ride on sidewalks, and most U.S. streets don't have bike lanes.

Spin president Euwyn Poon believes riding on the sidewalk at a reasonable speed is what makes sense. The scooters take up less space than bicycles.

"The global community of cities is going to have to figure this all out for scooters," Buttigieg said. "These trends can move incredibly quickly. That's exciting, and a little scary."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 320292

Reported Deaths: 7390
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22299271
Hinds20782424
Harrison18455317
Rankin13933282
Jackson13740249
Madison10276225
Lee10068176
Jones8475167
Forrest7845153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6524150
Lamar636688
Lafayette6315121
Washington5427138
Bolivar4842133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4610148
Marshall4576105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc426173
Monroe4163136
Union415977
Neshoba4066180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387687
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3374111
Alcorn327474
Scott320374
Yazoo314771
Adams308586
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma299084
Simpson298689
Tippah292468
Prentiss284461
Leake272474
Marion271480
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252451
Newton249064
Tishomingo232469
Winston230382
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210759
Holmes190574
Stone188833
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167940
Smith164134
Walthall135547
Greene131934
Lawrence131424
Montgomery128943
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126542
Carroll122330
Webster115132
Jefferson Davis108534
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79218
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549394

Reported Deaths: 11328
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810851571
Mobile42180832
Madison35733524
Tuscaloosa26186460
Shelby25638255
Montgomery25103615
Baldwin21921314
Lee16301176
Calhoun14725329
Morgan14650286
Etowah14192364
Marshall12465230
Houston10798289
Elmore10302214
Limestone10191157
St. Clair10166251
Cullman9975201
Lauderdale9621250
DeKalb8978190
Talladega8467184
Walker7351281
Autauga7244113
Jackson6993113
Blount6957139
Colbert6418140
Coffee5650128
Dale4931116
Russell455241
Chilton4476116
Franklin432082
Covington4283123
Tallapoosa4137155
Escambia402380
Chambers3731124
Dallas3609158
Clarke353361
Marion3264107
Pike314878
Lawrence3135100
Winston283672
Bibb268664
Geneva258782
Marengo250566
Pickens237062
Barbour234460
Hale227078
Butler225071
Fayette219763
Henry194844
Randolph187744
Cherokee187545
Monroe181041
Washington170639
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156157
Cleburne153744
Lamar147237
Lowndes142154
Wilcox126830
Bullock124642
Conecuh113830
Coosa112129
Perry108826
Sumter106032
Greene93734
Choctaw62125
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