The State of E-Scooters in the US

Eight years after shared e-scooters were first introduced in US cities, the industry still teeters on the edge of success, hindered in part by limited infrastructure.

2 minute read

April 18, 2024, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Several Lime e-scooters lined up next to curb on a sidewalk in San Jose, California.

Sundry Photography / Adobe Stock

What’s the status of the U.S. e-scooter industry eight years after its launch? Syris Valentine assesses the landscape in an article for Grist, writing that “The true climate benefits of these fleets depends upon how companies deploy and manage them, and safety remains a concern as injuries climb. But industry leaders appear intent on ensuring their scooters are as sustainable and safe as possible.”

According to Valentine, researchers say that the two biggest factors that will determine the climate impact of scooters are how users ride them and how operators manage them throughout their life cycle.

If scooter rides replace walking, their impact on emissions will be minimal. “But several studies, including one by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and another, funded by Lime, by a German research institute, have found that though anywhere from a third to well over half of scooter users would have walked instead, enough other trips that would have been taken by car were not.” However, the energy and infrastructure — including large cargo vans — required to manage and redistribute scooters in many urban environments can negate some of their environmental benefits.

Meanwhile, the lack of safe infrastructure in most U.S. cities is a bigger obstacle that e-scooter operators don’t have control over: “with most American cities designed to promote cars over all other forms of transit, the health of scooter users is, like those of pedestrians and cyclists, at risk once wheels hit pavement.”

Monday, April 15, 2024 in Grist

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