The Public Scooter Craze

by Angelique Platas

Aug 30, 2018

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Feature

If you live in or have traveled to any one of the 65 U.S. cities now populated by public scooters, you may already have your opinion set on the mode of transportation. In March, seemingly overnight, public scooters arrived in San Francisco by the hundreds, on every street corner, before they were quickly removed.

The lack of city planning, forethought and permission granted to the new form of public transportation was a no-go for San Francisco, but an allure for other cities. Public scooters quickly found homes in popular locales such as San Diego and Los Angeles — where residents and visitors currently find scooters propped up nearly everywhere — and even back in San Francisco.

If this is all news to you, the electric scooters now used for public transportation are pretty simple. Much like the two-wheeled scooters of your childhood, Bird, Spin, Skip and Lime are motorized, battery- and electric-operated versions, but much faster. No longer pushing along with foot power, these electric scooters reach speeds of 15 mph — doesn’t sounds like much, but on a pedestrian sidewalk or intersection, those numbers add up.

Much like the scooters themselves, the business model behind the scooters is simple. Users sign up on the corresponding app with a credit card and locate the closest Skip, Spin or, more prevalent, Bird and Lime scooters using the app. Once users find a nearby scooter, they simply activate and ride. Users pay cents on the minute, making the electric devices increasingly affordable when compared to cabs or rideshare apps and much faster than walking. Once users are finished riding, they park the scooter and end the ride on the app.

Part of the fun of the scooters is the pick-up-and-go appeal. Grab one when you need and drop it when you’re done. There is no set parking dock or charging location for most city scooters so users drop them anywhere, literally.

The divide in the scooter conversation is also pretty simple. Those who use public scooters like them, and those who don’t use them, don’t. Being that scooters are typically left in obtrusive and slightly congested areas, drivers and walkers have to work around them. They also move much faster than the average walker or runner for that matter, requiring pedestrians to pay constant attention while walking to avoid getting hit.

Being that these scooters are pay as you go for the general public and not owned by any one person, the chances of riders wearing helmets, as the law requires, are slim to none. One possible solution to this issue, however, is the portable helmet. The Morpher is the only flat-folding helmet of its kind, so frequent commuters can pack it in their bag and travel easily and safely. Morphers come in six colors and cost $149.

While the trend may be wavering, safety should be key and urban commuters and business travelers may need to be more mindful of their surroundings while traveling.

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