The e-scooter revolution
Commuters and business travellers cities could soon be turning their backs on traditional taxis and instead making their own way by electric scooter.
Dockless, battery-powered scooters are appearing in a number of European and US cities, offering swift, convenient zero emission travel. Some promote themselves as the ‘last mile solution’ to urban commuting.
This week the ride hailing app Taxify added Bolt e-scooters to its operation in Paris, where the company said 20% of its taxi rides were shorter than 3km.
“With Bolt scooters now live in Paris, Taxify will be the first transportation platform to bring scooter sharing and ride-hailing together in one mobile app,” said the company.
To ride a scooter, Taxify customers scan a QR-code to unlock the two-wheeled transport, and they can then leave it on the street at the end of their rental. Each ride costs a minimum of €1 plus 15 cents per minute. Whether the e-scooters will start to cannibalise taxi rides remains to be seen.
Uber invests in scooters
Taxify is one of a number of e-scooter hire businesses to target American and European markets. Uber has made a significant investment in Lime, a US-based company with a focus on delivering micro-mobility solutions, such as bicycles, e-bikes and e-scooters.
“Uber will work with us as a strategic partner in the electric scooter space to offer people a greater variety of transportation modes at their fingertips,” said Toby Sun and Brad Bao, co-founders of Lime.
Lime claims that its mixed fleet of micro-mobility vehicles has already been used more than 6 million times. It launched its Lime-S e-scooter in both Zurich and Paris in June, and also has operations in Berlin, Bremen and Frankfurt. Rental costs only €1 Euro to unlock + €0.15 for every minute of riding in the French capital.
Arthur-Louis Jacquier, Lime’s general manager of French operations, said, “Our electric scooters offer a riding experience that’s both more enjoyable and more practical than any other mode of urban transportation.”
Rival e-scooter firm Bird says it works closely with cities to improve transport and help to make it more environmentally-friendly, although not all major cities are in favour of the battery-powered two-wheeled transport.
City scooter bans
In the UK, the Department of Transport classes e-scooters as a motorcycle or moped and says they need to be registered and taxed, while riders need a driving licence and have to wear a crash helmet.
Across the Atlantic, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has heavily restricted licences to just two e-scooter rental firms, Scoot and Skip, after three firms – Bird, Lime and Spin – flooded the city’s streets with hundreds of motorised scooters, leading to 1,900 complaints about scooters blocking pavements and unsafe riding.
Over the next 12 months, SFMTA will evaluate the use and safety of scooter sharing. Among a number of criteria that Scoot and Skip had to meet to secure their licences were a commitment to educate users, to be insured, to share trip data with the city, and to address illegal scooter riding and parking.