September 19, 2019

E-Scooters Are Driving People Insane


They can litter sidewalks, menace pedestrians
and endanger their riders’ lives. Over the past year, app-enabled electric scooters
have popped up in cities around the world, inviting a wary public to hop a ride as indignant
local governments scramble to regulate them. It may come as a surprise, then, that e-scooters
could be exactly what traffic-choked cities need. This is your Bloomberg QuickTake on e-scooters. Download an app, find a scooter, unlock it,
and go for a ride. When you’re done, leave it behind. Rides can cost less than $2. There’s, Bird, Lime, Scoot,
Skip, both Uber and Lyft have scooters now as well. They’re new and by their essence, they’re
all over the place. So if you’re not using them, they get in your
way and because people are just learning how to use them, they tend to ride them in obnoxious
ways. And in a lot of places these become sort of
a symbol of the technology industry which annoys people. At launch, cities like Cleveland banned them,
while San Francisco halted operations for several months to create a permit system that
capped the number of scooters allowed. Still, growth has continued: Bird now offers
scooters in about 40 cities, while Lime is in 23. But despite the controversies, e-scooters
have their defenders. In dense urban areas, cars often aren’t
the fastest way to get around. Many cities have turned to bike-share systems
and dedicated bike lanes because they take up less space than cars, and save on carbon
emissions. Some urban planners also see e-scooters as
part of the future of city transportation. The hope would be that you would eliminate
a lot of shorter car trips. That would get a lot of cars off the road
which would allow for some rethinking of the streets themselves, and which would create
more protected lanes and so on. And then, that would in turn broaden the demand
for scooters. So it would be sort of a virtuous cycle. But despite Bird and Lime each being valued
at more than $1 billion, it’s too early to tell if they will become viable businesses. the things you look at are, how long
it takes to pay off a vehicle, and how long a vehicle stays on the road. We don’t know exactly how much this is, but
you know, it does seem like you can pay these things off fairly quickly, they’re relatively
inexpensive. But, they also just get completely trashed,
very quickly. You’re going to take care of your own car,
but, as they say, “no one ever washes a rental car.”

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