Electric shooters services excel at short distance travel.
Cheap scooter prices make for compelling alternative to buses, rideshare, and cars.
Safety, competition, and regulation will test the electric scooter market.
Birds and Limes. These are new verbs that have redefined the definition of transportation. If you haven’t already seen these electric scooter monstrosities, then you live in a cave.
These fun scooter services not only have invaded Los Angeles, they have spread across the world. Scooters are not a tech gimmick, they’ve made a comeback. But how far can these things go?
After riding both Bird and Lime for five months, short distance travel is where these services excel giving users 18 to 37 miles per charge. In cities like Los Angeles where traffic is a nightmare, electric scooters are winning over commuters hearts.
Commuting in LA is an uphill battle. Whether you own a car, use rideshare, or take public transportation, one way or another you’ll get stuck in traffic. That inevitability is where companies like Bird and Lime come in.
Unlike cars, rideshare, buses, trains, and bikes, electric scooters are easy and reliable. Just like UBER and Lyft, a dedicated app registers your location with nearby scooters. With a few taps, your next destination awaits you.
That streamlined experience has made companies like Bird get valued at nearly two billion dollars. The “dockless” feature, the ability to pick up and drop off from any location makes electric scooters appealing.
Today, scooters are on every corner of every sidewalk. You see people on Birds and Limes zip through traffic. That sight alone draws commuters away from using Uber, busses, and bikes.
Anything that avoids being stuck in traffic or being sweaty is hands down a major win. But the biggest win isn’t the fast and easy journey on a scooter, rather the cheap cost to ride them.
At the price of $1 to start followed by 15 cents per minute, electric scooters are a bargain. My 4-mile commute to work during rush hour on a scooter beats the cost and time of an Uber.
Costing between $8-12, Uber takes around 15-20 minutes while Bird and Lime costs a max of $4 taking me 12 minutes to get to work. Bird and Lime are not a niche, they are a legitimate form of transportation in cities like LA.
A wide range of people are using electric scooters to get to work, pick up food, meet friends, etc. For being cheap, fun, and reliable alternatives, the popularity of these scooters is unprecedented.
Yet the biggest controversy surrounding Bird and Lime is safety. Cars and pedestrians are increasingly upset at how fast people are going on these scooters. In a nutshell they’re right, these scooters are dangerous with top speeds at 18 MPH.
Users can definitely hurt people or get hurt while on a scooter. I myself have fallen a couple times and have dodged some close calls even on the dedicated bike lanes. With hardly any regulations in place, Bird and Lime might not be around for long.
In a Vice News report, San Francisco has taken extreme measures to ban and exile Birds. Parts of Los Angeles have also followed and as the lawsuits continue to pile, the electric scooter industry is getting crowded.
Heavy weights like UBER and Lyft are rolling out their own versions of electric scooters even after investing large sums of cash into Lime and Bird. Although scooters just turned electric, bikes are not far behind.
For the time being, the electric scooter revolution is here, alive, and extremely prosperous. I believe scooters are viable forms of transportation, but what do you think?
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