The emergence of e-scooters on street corners all over the country makes it easy for attendees to explore many cities with the tap of a smartphone linked to an active bank card. Visitors can grab any unattended scooter off the street and go for as little as a couple of bucks an hour. But behind the scenes, the colorful battle for market share has been intense and may affect what you will have access to in the future.
San Francisco-based Lime—formerly known as Limebike—introduced app-based bicycle rentals in June 2017 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and expanded a month later to the cities of Key Biscayne, Florida; South Bend, Indiana; Denver; and Lake Tahoe, California. Green electric scooters followed the following March. In July 2018, the ride-sharing company Uber made a “sizable investment” in the company.
Adoption was swift because they provided a convenient, fun way to travel short distances. The number of cities now offering the green rides numbers more than 100 with the largest concentrations in California and Florida. The company has also expanded to 33 international cities.
Similar companies offering dockless scooter rentals cropped up shortly thereafter. Santa Monica-based Bird offers the sleek black rides at a discount to those enrolled in social assistance programs and military in 100 cities in the United States. They later expanded to countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Israel, Mexico and Switzerland.
San Francisco-based Scoot operates red scooters of both the kick and sit-down type, in its hometown; Barcelona, Spain; and Santiago, Chile. Another San Francisco company, Skip Scooters, which offers the yellow and black rides with top speeds of 18 mph in Portland, Oregon and Washington, D.C.
Lyft has deposited its own fleets of black and pink scooters for rent by the minute in cities around the country, including Los Angeles, Denver, Austin and Washington D.C. The app will allow users to reserve a scooter in advance.
Not all cities welcomed the ad-hoc transportation option. Amid numerous complaints about potential injuries—as many as 10 scooter-related emergency room visits a day were reported in some cities—in June 2018, the city of San Francisco banned the scooters. Four months later, the city brought them back, but only allowed Scoot and Skip to operate there.
A similar story played out in Denver. After landing on the scene in May, the city first banned them, and two months later gave Lime, Bird and three other companies permits to operate 350 scooters each, with permission to only be ridden on the sidewalk. It wasn’t until city officials realized the danger of allowing them to operate on the sidewalk that they voted unanimously to approve the street use of the electric scooters.
Although convenient, scooters still require care. Here some tips for you and your attendees hopping on one of the shared devices:
Encourage attendees to wear a helmet. The streets are dangerous, anything can happen. Lime, Bird and Skip offer free helmets to riders. These companies often have representatives out on the street handing them out. Scoot scooters hold two helmets in its rear compartment.
Remind attendees to stay in the bike line and off the sidewalk. No one wants a pedestrian-scooter collision on their hands.
Refrain from riding two people on one scooter.
When done, park the scooters on a sidewalk. Try not to block driveways, building entrances or curb ramps.