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The Rise of the Electric Scooter (codinghorror.com)
258 points by idoco on Sept 12, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 326 comments

I rode a non-electric kick scooter (Xootr) for three years working in downtown SF. It is by far the best form of transitional transport there is and superior to bikes for 99% of actual real world travel. It was easily 4-5 times faster than walking and more importantly suddenly made the entire city open due to how insanely efficient it was for "glueing" together various forms of public transport. I could hop from transport hub to transport hub insanely quickly and the entire system suddenly worked in a way that did not happen with walking or biking. Some people say walk, but it's too slow and a 1/2 mile "walk" section on a complicated transport route would be impractical on foot. Biking is fast enough for long trips but massively inconvenient for quick trips to a store or park or restaurant. A scooter on the other hand could be with me all day, I can take it into the store with me, I can take it on the bus. Transition cost from arrival to getting on the bus or walking into a store was seconds instead of minutes with a bike. The scooter had tons of upsides and the only downside was, at the time, that it was kind of embarrassing to be seen on. People talk to much about the "last-mile" as if the only travel people do is on massive transport corridors to and from work. The scooter solves the transport mesh, the hops and transitions of actual day-to-day living.

I’ve been thinking about bike vs scooter a lot lately too. Austin is overrun with scooters and I used them for a little while before finding the electric Uber Jump bikes. They seem superior to scooters in every way in Austin, which makes the 20:1 ratio of scooters to bikes a bit baffling.

But I can see your point in SF where I use to walk 5 blocks from my apartment to the muni train and then another five blocks from the train to the office. Scooters would have been ideal there.

The e-bikes have one massive advantage in Austin - you can take them on the Butler Trail that runs the width of the Austin along the river. You can get almost anywhere of interest very quickly on one of the jump bikes.

There’s also no useful bus or train transport in Austin (I thought SF was bad) so you’re not using the small transport to move small distances between larger transport as often.

We have the Jump e-bikes here in Atlanta, and I also prefer them to scooters. There are a lot of old roads and sidewalks with cracks that make riding a scooter can be dangerous. With the small wheels, you really have to pay attention to the road ahead of you.

Unfortunately, I received an email earlier this month that Jump is pulling all the e-bikes from the city. I wonder if operating costs or cost fo replacement make them unrealistic?

Ugh. Build dedicated lanes, then, Atlanta. A scooter-pedestrian collision isn't pleasant, but it has a far, far better outcome for the pedestrian than a car-scooter collision does for the scooter.

I speak as someone who bikes and walks, and is as annoyed as everyone else by scooters -- they still have a right to personal safety.

They do not have a personal right to be on the sidewalk or threaten pedestrians.

We have bike lines in Chicago, but yet they still act like entitled assholes.

That pronouncement (in the article) seems a little harsh on people in wheelchairs...

I bought my own e-bike for use in Atlanta, and commuted exclusively by bike for nearly a year, including the previous winter. I had about a 4 mile commute and it turned it into a leisurely 15-20 minute ride, partially on the beltline. Parking is free, and I could bring my bike into my office. The real advantage of e-bikes is just how easy it is to climb hills with a 500-750 watt motor.

I've moved jobs and am out in the burbs, but plan on moving back pretty soon.

Also in Austin, and agree. Bikes just feel so much safer to me, especially at higher speeds for longer distances. I've already almost died twice on scooters, and have almost no close calls on my bike on a regular basis.

I've been biking for 2 years in SF and disagree that it's impractical for short trips. Why do you think that?

You have the deal with the bike afterwords. Go for brunch in the mission and your friends are going back to the outer sunset with a scooter just fold it up and put it in the car with a bike either hope it's there when you get back, bike all the way, or go home then head over alone.

This exactly: bikes require planning and strategy and are not good for improvisational day-to-day things like you described. Bikes make walking easier but all other forms of travel like bus, train or taxi/uber/cars more difficult or impossible.

In Copenhagen it's often the opposite: the rest of the group came by bike, they're within 20m of the current bar, the person on foot will have to turn up later. Or we all walk.

(Also, the suburban trains and taxis carry bikes for free.)

What's bike theft like in Copenhagen? I have two bikes but I drive to brunch because I'm afraid of losing my bike to a thief and parking is easier to deal with than having to carry my lock.

Leave the lock at work, locked to the rack or a fence. That might not work for brunch.

Most people use either old or fairly cheap (<€500) city bikes. We only lock the rear wheel; if you want to you can pick up the bike and walk off with it.

Some people do have nicer bikes, and they chain the bikes to something solid. I did this for 6 months when my city bike was new.

Most bikes are beaters and wouldn't be worth stealing for it's value, although I've been told every Dane has stolen a bike once in their life when in need of transport.

> Also, the suburban trains and taxis carry bikes for free.

Sure, but how many will fit on one train/taxi? Here in Vancouver we have two bike-slots per bus and ~4 per train (which is actually just general accessibility-device space, for e.g. powered-wheelchairs, and is almost always taken already.)

Taxis take two.

Wikipedia says a suburban train takes 46 bikes. I should check, as the press release from the company doesn't give a figure.

I don't commute by train, so I don't know if that's still not enough. Many people do leave a second bicycle at the station.



Is that the case in the winter too? I just started bike commuting in SF and have been wondering how it works in bike oriented colder countries when it starts raining/snowing.

In Netherlands nearly everyone cycles for nearly all local trips all year round regardless of the weather. Nothing beats the convenience of a bike.

I use mine for every trip longer than a 5 minute walk and less than a 45 mins bike ride. That encompasses the whole of Amsterdam and its outlying suburbs.

In bad weather, people have suitable rain gear and accept getting a bit wet. Or cycle with umbrellas. As the Dutch say, "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing".

Here in the Netherlands during winter, bike paths are cleared/salted before most residential streets. That together with the sheer amount of bicycles keeps all mayor bike paths clear enough, though it does get slippery.

Places with good bike infrastructure take care of it (e.g. plowing).

but it's still cold as fuck

Well sure. I mean, bundling up is possible, just ask anyone in Chicago. My hunch is that places with healthy bike infrastructure are also dense enough to make most trips short, minimizing time spent outside.

Winter in Copenhagen means –5°C, so it's not really the same. It is more humid than the continental USA.

But yes, the cycle paths are ploughed (often before the roadway). Nevertheless, bus and train use increases.

For cycling a long time in the rain, some people use overtrousers or other waterproof clothing.

Just means you can bike faster without sweating.

> bikes require planning and strategy

What? I don't plan or strategize any more or less than someone getting in a car might think about the optimal rush hour route.

A car can be parked on the street (at least in theory, I'm aware SF's parking may be less amenable), and has a high likelihood of being there and intact when you return.

Without bike-parking infrastructure -- ubiquitous racks -- bikes are far less likely to be found where left, and far more likely to be damaged, vandalised, and/or have components nicked.

I've lived where cycling was well-supported and routes and racks reasonable. And where not. For SF, hills, parking, and traffic all work against cycling.

> bikes are far less likely to be found where left, and far more likely to be damaged, vandalised, and/or have components nicked.

I don't own a car anymore, but when I did I had countless break ins. Most times nothing was taken. Petty theft & vandalism is a problem here regardless of vehicle type.

Exactly. I think the point is that a scooter allows you to plan far less.

Dockless and docked bikeshare programs both mitigate this issue, with trade-offs on the inconvenience of finding bikes/parking them.

Citibike in NYC is a dumpster fire. Same price as subway ride for a 30 minute ride. Each ride segment has to be 30 minutes or less or they start charging you by the minute. You can’t check out more than one bike on a single account. The full docks don’t correctly report in, meaning even though the dock is full, you can’t get a time extension while you go out of your way to return the bike.

That's the tourist price. NYC residents typically buy an annual pass for $170, which gives you free 45 minute segments.

Been using CitiBike for 3 years. None of these have been an issue for me, except for the 30 minute time limit, but I was going from WTC to 96th st which took me 40 minutes

Nowhere near as convenient as a scooter.

Closing the last half mile on a trip on scooter is a breeze. Sometimes the nearest bike docks at start and end total half a mile distance. Dockless bike? They are generally quite sparse where I am.

IRT bicycles in relation to buses and trains, mass transit can be designed with bikes in mind. Dallas is not exactly known for having the best mass transit system around, but DART buses have easy to use bike racks on the front and the light rail trains have handicap accessible cars with flat loading platforms and hooks to hang your bike to keep it somewhat out of the way.

Your points on other forms of travel, such as regular cars + bicycles, are definitely true.

https://www.dart.org/riding/bikeracksonbuses.asp https://www.dart.org/riding/bikesontrains.asp

If you think bikes requires planning and strategy you're doing it wrong.

All you need is a good lock (make sure to put in wheel locks so you don't need to have that ridicolous cable-lock setup).

Do you sometimes need to walk 50m to find a pole or bike rack? Sure, but that doesn't require planning and strategy.

For people who are REALLY into bikes, a "rinko bike" helps with this. For general use however, I'm convinced about using a scooter as described above by the GGP.

I've just bought the xootr, will see how it goes. But part of the rationale for trying it (as opposed to my bike) is that I wouldn't feel too self- conscious about taking the scooter onto public transport during rush hour.

It's all marginal, but when it's standing room only, the extra space taken up by the folding bikes is just eeking that little bit more into the "socially unacceptable dick- move" category. Might not be applicable if you're not in place where public transport gets that busy, but definitely a consideration here.

Plus my hope is the ability to carry it easily one handed, and store it under (or leaving it standing vertically) my desks at both work and at home (as opposed to my bike, which resides underground in the garage), and that i can conceivably ride it in a suit.

Plus, I can access both sidewalks and paths and roads (which is a legal consideration here)

As I said, we'll see how it goes...but it seems to make sense on paper...

Have you done much travel with a rinko-style dismantled bike in the US? I'm curious how trains and buses feel about the (still big and unwieldy) bag.

I haven't personally, but there was recently a discussion of that very topic on the i-bob list.

[1] https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/internet-bob/bWwsR-J...

Or just, and here me out here, bike to the outer sunset. Sounds crazy.

Depending on your fitness level, you might arrive a couple of minutes later than your friends, but so what.

The answer is a Brompton or other folders you can even get an electric Brompton now.

They're horribly expensive.

Cheap, properly portable, properly rideable: choose two.

Get a brompton.

While the folding bike concept is cool, and it's actually really handy to be able to take them on trains where a non-folding would be disallowed, and while they are also more convenient than a full size bike, they're still big and cumbersome when folded up.

I can take mine on the bus, but that wouldn't be my first choice. I can take a regular Lyft, but not a Lyft Line with it. (I mean I could, but that's a dick move.) You're "that guy" at the bar after work.

Like I said, I own one (well, a Dahon), and it's definitely useful, more convenient than a full size, non-folding bike, but it doesn't actually solve the issue, merely alleviates it somewhat.

Agree, you need something like the below to make it work, but it'd be a revolution in transport! http://www.bike-intermodal.eu/

Note that the A-bike falls into this territory, bar the tiny wheels http://www.abikecentral.com/index.html

Edit: I'd forgotten about another type, the monowheel, though they do require some skill: https://www.airwheel.net/home/product/X5

...and for normal bikes this would be a quick and easy win in many cities:


The Brompton is really the only game in town for urban folding bikes. Uniquely, the Brompton locks into a compact and balanced package that can be comfortably carried in one hand. If you opt for a model with a pannier rack (or buy an EazyWheels kit) the folded bike can be pulled around like a wheeled suitcase. There are lots of good folding bikes, but only one good folded bike.


Depends on what you're looking for. I found the wheel size a bit too small.

I think this is a fair comparison and gives the advantage to the Brompton in small folded size, although its weight is not something to be taken lightly (!) http://anatolyivanov.com/prose/en/AI.7.00109/

I love the Pakit, however I like the looks of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mkzRF3trJM https://youtu.be/xscDjAmD2MM?t=251

I use a bike to get around SF the majority of the time as well. But lately I've been switching it up and using a skateboard for short trips. Riding the bike definitely isn't 'impractical', but the skateboard is so much less of a hassle.

You don't have to bother carrying a lock (or walk to the corner to find the nearest pole to lock it to for that matter). And, don't tell my Mom, but not fiddling with a helmet and lights is huge too.

I spent three years doing this in SF. You definitely want a backpack you can attach clip on lights (FWIW my setup was a Goruck bag with Blackburn lights). I've found drivers pay even less attention to skateboarders than bicyclists. The lights help a little.

rejoinder to the helmet point: if the speed is the same, and the places traveled are the same, the need for the helmet is the same.

If the speed is the same, and the places traveled are the same, and the likelihood of an accident is the same...

Can you imagine going to a car dealership, and coming across a car with 10x the stopping distance and a center of mass twice as high as a Civic and the salesman telling you "it's just as safe so long as you're traveling the same speed and same places"? Would you buy that claim for a second?

I've avoided numerous accidents by being able to stop quickly on my bike, or by making a sharp turn. This varies greatly just between different bicycles -- a mountain bike has much better stopping distance than a road bike. There's obviously also a big difference between a skateboard and a bicycle.

There's also, I think, a steeper learning curve between skateboard and bike, though that may be because learning to bike as a child is more common. There's at least a difference in skill levels. I mostly know the limits of my bike. (e.g., how hard can I turn without skidding out?) and while a skilled skateboarder may be on par with me on that, I'm not. I can bike tens of thousands of miles without falling. I'm nowhere near the skill level of being able to do that on a skateboard.

Being able to eject yourself is also valuable. I suspect a skateboarder would have better "eject and run" options than a cyclist, so that's a point in their favor. (I've had my back tire run over twice, and both times I was able to simply run forward over the handlebars, and my hands (and head) didn't touch the grounds, but it's not always going to be that easy.)

Skateboards are slower than bikes unless you're really pushing it or bombing down a hill. Skateboarding is a skill and you can do all sorts of maneuvers to stop quickly, such as a side stop.

I think the main reason why skateboards are worse injury wise is many of them try to do tricks constantly, while most bicyclists are not in that category. Also the small wheels are more sensitive to potholes.

> the main reason why skateboards are worse injury wise is many of them try to do tricks constantly

Surely it's simply because of scenarios like a small rock's ability to insta-stop your board, basically guaranteeing your injury. Pretty much every time I've ever been knocked off a skateboard during my commute would be something you wouldn't even think/care about if you were on a bike. Not even close. One is a bike, the other is a heavy, tall pole (you) on a low, rolling platform. One is far more precarious, like keeping a reverse pendulum balanced.

Hell, the most common injury I've seen on a skateboard is just someone stepping onto one, misplacing their center of mass, and the board just rocketing out from under them, and then bruising their tailbone/wrists. Even an inexperienced bicyclist doesn't have a fail case close to that.

Most people really can't run much over 7-10 mph. A bike and a skateboard both easily go faster than this. Eject and run is not really an option unless you want to face plant or do a skilled tuck and roll.

This gets more true the further you are from sprinting on a regular basis. And really unless you have practice you're not going to match speeds with the ground anyway

I have to keep my feet under me for a few dozen steps while I come to a stop. I might not be able to do that at 20 MPH, but I think I can at 12 MPH. I can at whatever speeds I was going when people ran over my back wheel. (Once was a parking lot, so I was probably going fairly slowly, but the other was biking downhill.)

Go to the gym, turn the treadmill up to full speed and jump onto it, and see how it goes. That'll be a good data based test. The mill will drop speed by about 30% and most mills don't go up super high. Take a face plant for science.

If you did then you're probbably faster than normal and better balance than normal. I'm pretty sure I'd pull a hammy immediately. My coworker immediately face planted and broke arm and collar bone.

I commute on a Boosted Board and after three summers of doing so, I'm a very confident rider of it. But I wouldn't ever dream of going without a helmet, even for short trips around the neighbourhood.

I rode a skateboard every day for 8 years, from high school through college and thought helmets where stupid. I got a Boosted board last year and after one ride bought my first helmet. Would never use it without one now.

Crash motion is different.

I feel like it's easier for a skateboarding miscalculation to slap you hard on the ground than a bike. A bike has really good brakes compared to a skateboard. Sure you don't need the helmet?

> Some people say walk, but it's too slow and a 1/2 mile "walk" section on a complicated transport route would be impractical on foot.

Wait, are you being serious? That's less than a 10 minute walk, and you probably need the exercise anyways... And SF has fantastic walking weather compared to most of the world.

Right, but that .5mi "10 minute walk" tuns into 20 minutes both ways, adding tons of time (as a % of commute) to the door-to-door travel times.

That's not wasted time though, is it? It's a chance for a bit of exercise, a bit of shopping, to see your local communities.

I live in a nice part of town; I work in a nice part of town; but the straight-line walking connection I have to make in the middle is in the bad part of town. I'd rather not.

> a bit of shopping, to see your local communities

It's possible that's exactly what you're doing on the scooter. Maybe your destination is a local establishment to meet up with friends and you don't want to be a sweaty mess upon arrival.

Riding a kick scooter is pretty good exercise too.

If you need to shave 20 specific minutes off your daily activities, I suggest finding a new job.

Those "20 specific minutes" are roughly 1/4th of the average 2-way commute time in the Bay Area [1] and even more than that nationwide.

I suggest getting off that high horse.

[1] https://abc7news.com/traffic/study-bay-area-commutes-fourth-...

But up on the horse he is faster than a pedestrian, it's better exercise than an e-scooter, and he doesn't have to worry about stepping in the ubiquitous poop.

Shaving 20 minutes off a commute in a coastal metro area costs $100,000-$200,000 in the price of a home.

Maybe you don't care about the value of your time, but many people do.

> It was easily 4-5 times faster than walking

I can walk a mile in 20 minutes which is 3 mph. This implies these scooters can maintain 12-15 mph?

Am I just underestimating how fast you can get going on these things? That seems kind of fast unless you are going downhill both ways.

I ride an electric scooter approx. 4 mi each way Caltrain <-> work everyday. I regularly maintain 15mph+ trip average.

Right, and the guy I was replying to was claiming that speed on a non-electric "Xootr".

Your right. Electrics can do that kind of speed but I was on a kick scooter and probably in more of a 3-4 x range and probably averaged 9mph after lights, pedestrians and the like are taken into account.

The Xootr in particular glides really really well.

If you're used to the cheapo Razor scooters, it's worlds apart, even from the larger-wheeled Razor A5.

The relative speed depends on the terrain. If you're on concrete sidewalks, like I am, I'd say it's 3x faster. If you're on asphalt, then 4x is reasonable. Downhill, 5x easily.

Is a Xootr really worth so much money? I just checked because I like the idea and they're close to 300€ here.

I got the cheaper Dash model with the narrow plastic deck for US $200. If I were going longer distances (more than a mile/1.5km) then one of the more expensive wider-deck models would definitely be worth it.

Yea, they can get up to 15-20 mph. Some areas are throttled in Austin, though, e.g., in and around UT campus.

They top out at 15 mph in SF. I wish they went faster. I am a cyclist and usually maintain close to 20 mph (not counting lights). It's kind of maddening not to be able to go 20 or 25 on them.

I averaged about half the time vs walking when I used my kick scooter regularly. Reading the next though, I think they are gaining time by linking transit hubs.

The boosted rev goes 24 mph

I've basically had the same experience but picking up skateboarding again. I spent a lot of time skateboarding as a kid, and it turns out it's also a really efficient, compact way of getting around a city too! I now feel a lot more comfortable moving further away from BART while maintaining a consistent commute time.

I am thinking of buying a skateboard instead of a scooter, to have more fun.

Electric skateboards are even better and funnier. But you need to pay the price of the learning curve.

Sure thing. But e-scooters?

We have one in our city now, you can rent. I have the feeling people use it for the same distances I use a bike for (<10km).

This comment is what ad copy should look like.

I am amused this is still a topic of discussion in America.

Visit China sometime, electric motor scooters (larger than the kids versions we have here[1]) and motorbikes are everywhere, the large majority of small vehicles on the road there are now electric.

It is super nice, the streets are far cleaner and quieter than just a few years ago.

One huge benefit China has is an existing infrastructure for smaller vehicles, there is either a grade separation or a fence that differentiates small vehicles from larger ones.

On narrow urban streets speeds are lower so the separation is not needed. This is actually a great example of how making streets smaller can increase throughput, if bikes + electric bikes + motor scooters + cars all share the same road, more traffic can fit on the street once people who would be in individual occupancy cars feel comfortable moving to more space efficient forms of transportation.

Meanwhile in America we paint a tiny narrow bike lane on the road and pretend the white line is going to stop accidents.

Bonus: Electric motorbikes / motor scooters can have canopies on top, helping alleviate some of the weather issues.

[1] https://wiztem.en.made-in-china.com/product/hygJHVvFMlcN/Chi...

I like watching the Cambrian Explosion of electric vehicles unfolding in China now, though it seems like a lot of them will not last. I think it would fair to say that bike lanes in the US are intended more for ease of litigation than safety (but that's true of a lot of US traffic infrastructure). The mix of traffic making things safer sounds a lot like a Woonerf[1].

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woonerf

> I like watching the Cambrian Explosion of electric vehicles unfolding in China now, though it seems like a lot of them will not last.

Most of the companies probably won't, but the changes to the market place will. Everyone is used to quiet comfortable electric small vehicles now.

Watching hundreds of mothers swarm a school to pick their kids up on electric motor scooters really drilled that home for me. Especially contrasting that to the utter nightmare in America of a similar number of swarming SUVs! American schools end up wasting space for "pick-up zones", in contrast it isn't even a concept in China, an electric motor scooter is what, 4x-5x as space efficient?

It's great overall but I do miss being able to walk on the sidewalk without having to worry about getting hit by those Meituan delivery scooters. At least here in Shenzhen, bicycles and small electric scooters are required to share the sidewalk with pedestrians.

Maybe this is regional? In metro Shanghai, the electric scooters usually have a dedicated lane. In the Pudong area (a ritzy part of downtown Shanghai), electric scooters are forbidden entirely. I got the distinct impression that using these scooters was a type of class distinction.

the large majority of small vehicles on the road there are now electric.

Maybe in some parts of China like Shenzhen that are mandating it, but gas powered cars are still outselling electric cars 25 to 1 in China, so it will be a long time before electric cars make up a majority.

>small vehicles

There are far more electric scooters on the road than there are cars.

Citation? It is basically impossible to be true, as cars still and scooters sold about the same number in China last year, but you also have the last two decade of cars sold on the road.

You might be right about there being more cars in the rural areas.

In cities, it's no contest, there are hordes of scooters and only some cars. And 99% of the scooters were electric, in my experience.

Many massively large companies today, simply saw traction for a particular product/service in one country (market) and then adapted it to their own country (market).

What might be a new "innovation" in our country could be old hat in another.

Nothing wrong with that at all.

> Meanwhile in America we paint a tiny narrow bike lane on the road and pretend the white line is going to stop accidents.

Separated bike lanes can be equally dangerous and more inconvenient for cyclists. If you can swing around a slow/stopped hazard then it’s not much better. It’s only good for the newbie riders who are scared of the road.

The best arrangements are sharrows where both parties are sharing the road with constant reminders to cars to be aware of their surrounds and respect cyclists.

Otherwise I 100% agree with you regarding electric vehicles.

Depends on the speed limit.

Around here, on larger streets the speed limit is 35 mph. Riding a bike is considered a rather dangerous activity.

Drop the speed limit to 20 mph and maybe sharing the road becomes possible.

Seeing how other countries do it though, true separated bike lanes are the best. I agree that studies show painted bike lanes are actually more dangerous, but a physical barrier between cars and bikes is going to be the safest solution.

The dangerous place is not the straight road, but crossings where cars turn right and hit cyclists going straight. So the way these spots are handled is way more important than painted line vs fence.

This is true, but putting the stopping line for cars back a few feet largely fixes this. (Source: HN post a few months ago ;)

>Separated bike lanes can be equally dangerous and more inconvenient for cyclists.

I'm no expert, but I googled "protected bike lane safety statistics" and every result is touting the safety benefits. The results with reliable looking numbers are reporting injury reductions of 30-90%.

Back in ca 2001-2005 I used to work my summer nights for a tiny electric scooter rental place that had about 10-20 working scooters at a given time, renting them out to tourists at a lake, and they were fun, especially after learning how to tune the controller for a nice speed boost (for staff use only, of course). There were no serious accidents in all the time I worked there, even though the main customers were flip-flop wearing tourists and kids, driving these for the first time in crowded pedestrian areas.

For all intents and purposes, they worked and felt like the modern scooters, except that they had quick swap, fast charge AGM batteries. If we wanted to run an errand the next town over that would exceed a 30-40min ride (30min was a typical rental period), we'd just pack some extra batteries!

Those scooters were custom inventions, but larger scale commercialization never got anywhere and the business eventually died because of the battery tech being too cumbersome for consumer use, and the same legal questions that still plague us today, though it seems like electric bike usage the past 15 years has allowed at least some legislatures to give alternative powered transport a chance. As they should, as replacing large lumps of metal moving through our cities at unsafe speeds with much smaller lumps of metal moving a lot slower can only be a good thing for residents, pedestrians, and the environment.

Here in the UK they are illegal (unless used on private land), which is sad as whilst they are illegal as technically a motor vehicle, needing some form of test, insurance, mot.... That has not happened and in limbo as clearly a need for some standards control etc, but an unwillingness to address that and more so a periodic fashion stopping of people upon such vehicles in an apathetic way that causes many to get one, go months, even years without knowing they are breach of the law and driven past many police/traffic wardens, then suddenly one day they stop you and caution you saying you can't. They then go back to ignoring it as a low-priority issue and the limbo of not legal as no formal way to allow one, yet readily sold and accessible.

So for the UK, such rise is randomly curtailed and no progress upon legal avenues to use them as you would intend beyond private land - which many do not own in London, an area in which such modes of transport are most suited.

[EDIT ADD] A better read upon what I said :- https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48106617

I agree that it’s sad that e-scooters are banned in the UK. I take the train to work and I have ~20mins of waking either end (1 hr 20 mins per day total). An electric scooter could save me ~40 mins per day....

Why are electric scooters banned when e-bikes are fine? What if they were capped at 20mph? Below the 25 for bikes

Ebikes are technically restricted to 15mph here. The micromobility laws in the UK are a complete joke and driven by car and tier 1 manufacturers lobbying (e.g Bosch via EU).

EBikes and scooters are hands down the best solution to London's pollution issue yet people are getting fined for using them.

There is a complete lack of logic in the rulings. The reason why escooters are illegal whereas EBikes are not: throttle. An ebike with a throttle is technically not legal and in the same boat as an escooter.

This distinction is ridiculous as an ecyclist/scooterist with a throttle is safer than someone going the same speed under their own effort.

The law in the UK should be: - throttle is allowed - fine if not wearing proper safety equipment - Speed limit increased to 25 mph or current vehicle speed limit (e.g 20 near schools) - no power limit (this allows heavier people to go the same speed as others, and it allows heavier cargo-type bikes to be much more useful) - Innovate UK/BEIS grants specifically for electric micromobility projects (right now EBikes and scooters are generally barred from these grant competitions)

The speed limitation is down to the fact that they don't need insuring. Like pedal bikes the idea is that they will cause limited injury or damage to property in the event of a crash. Up things to 25mph, plus the frame/battery weight needed to add strength and safety to accelerate and brake swiftly, and suddenly you have plenty of energy to damage a car or other piece of property or hurt a human (yes I know cyclists also occasionally hurt humans).

So therefore they will need insurance, and therefore need registration. And guess what, you can ride an electric scooter or bike at the speeds you mentioned, you just need to register and insure it. It is entirely possible and people do.

What you are suggesting is a way to ride fast vehicles without the social contract of insurance and traceability.

Weight is not a good enough argument because you can have a fat guy on a bike (like me) going 25mph under my own power. Allowing someone like me to use a similar speed ebike via throttle allows me to use my energy on concentrating instead of pedalling.

By your logic, fat people on bikes should require insurance.

Bike lanes are the solution. Not insurance as insurance and registration only deals with something after an accident.

The fact that you're suggesting insurance and registration are to be expected for any class of vehicle short of a moped is completely foreign to me.

Yup, it all needs insuring here - even the 35cc autocycle I used to have needed it - but it only needed a cheap daylight mot (no lights, indicators or speedo) and tax was £15 insurance was just £50 at the time.

Being hit by a moped could easily cause life changing injuries, so I'm pleased to see them insured.

No it doesn't.

There is already voluntary insurance for (e) cycling here. Making it mandatory for some makes no sense.

Ebike is not a moped. Mopeds can go much faster than the proposed limit of 25mph.

Mandatory insurance is a band aid.

I dunno, we have voluntary insurance for kitesurfing. Why not? Insurance companies will do it pretty cheap.

There is already voluntary insurance for EBikes

In Switzerland you need it for bikes and they still manage

Being able to "manage" doesn't mean it's not a net negative on society.

If everyone was required to insure stuffed animals it would be cheap and perfectly "manageable" because the risk would be so low and the overhead would be spread over society but that overhead would still be pissed away on something non-productive because the net benefit to society of insuring stuffed animals is so small.

Don't know about the UK but in Italy the law is that (traditional) bicycles don't need any registration and helmet, ebikes are the same but the engine must be on only if the rider pedals and shuts down at 25 km/h. If not, it's a motorbike and needs driving license, helmet, registration and insurance. After all who cares if the engine is petrol or electric.

Escooters are about to be regulated. They should be motorbikes IMHO, but the slower speed and the way people use them make them something different. After all we want less cars around and escooters are a way to that goal.

But please, ban them from sidewalks. Having something fast moving among pedestrians is dangerous. Same for bicycles (and I'm a cyclist), only bike lanes and roads. Furthermore sidewalks are full of obstacles and have way worse pavements than roads.

Why do you want to fine ebikers for not wearing what you consider to be the "proper safety equipment", even after you yourself said that an ebiker with a throttle is safer than an ordinary cyclist at the same speed?

I agree with the arguments and facts against forcing safety gear. It's in the list as a compromise under certain conditions - if any proper micromobility legislation can happen without it then great.

I wonder why someone doesn't just make a scooter that does a similar thing some electric bikes do: the motor kicks in once you start moving and 'assists' you to kick the scooter along. Perhaps that would also be illegal? It's a very strange legal situation.

You could always get a non-electric kick scooter. Not quite as fast as the electric version, but faster than walking.

I doubt the police would stop you. I can't believe you won't use one if it saves that much time! Be brave!

I've only just started this commute so I'm thinking about it.... if I figure out that I can't get away with it then I'm stuck with a useless piece of kit.

Maybe not possible for you, but where I live (Germany) the obvious solution would be to get 2 cheap used bikes for both start/end legs and chain them at the station.

In the UK, more specifically London, these are completely misused. Users act largely as pedestrians on ultra busy and extremely tiny ancient streets. They have no place here.

First time ever I read that something is illegal in the UK but allowed in Germany... we made a step forward I guess!

Perhaps it's because I have a motorcycle, but every time I come across the word "scooter" what comes to mind is a Vespa-like vehicle.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooter#Vehicles

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kick_scooter

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooter_(motorcycle)

I'm curious about the etymology for each type, and how both ended up using the same word.

This is something I rant about from time to time. The word scooter is ridiculously overloaded. I'm semi-interested in an electric vespa type scooter, but it's hard to Google for it, because everything about electric scooters online refers to kick scooters.

Robot has a review of the new Electrica Vespa here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cswc9YtNJYw

The problem is in CA any Scooter even a 50 cc requires a full bike licence.

If you call them mopeds that should clarify any ambiguity.

Mopeds are sub 50cc motorized bicycles though.

Yeh don't call a Vespa a Moped, might not go well in some areas.

Mopeds have pedals.

It is super confusing, motor scooter vs motorized scooter, and now there are electric motor scooters vs electric motorized scooters.

I'm really not sure how that later one works out grammatically!

What noun would you suggest be used?

In (belgian) French we use "mobilette" or "scooter" for the vespa-like ones. and "trottinette" for the kick-like ones

I've been riding a Micro Falcon X3 for a few months now. Almost all electric scooters are illegal here in The Netherlands, but Micro sells two models which were adjusted to be legal; the throttle has been disabled and you have to actually kick to start moving and keep kicking regularly to keep the electric motor going.

My experience with it is it's a very fun way to commute and I prefer it to my bike. Most of the time I'm moving faster than all bikes, but just like the article I do agree with the 15 mph speed limit, because I really don't want to be going any faster with this thing. When I just started riding and was still learning how to stand and keep in control, a couple of times it shot away from under my feet and I hit the road pretty hard (on my feet luckily).

I'm not wearing a helmet or any other protective gear, I don't think that is necessary anymore than when riding a bike in NL (we have bike lanes everywhere). But if I had to travel on the road with cars then I probably would wear a helmet.

As for the goofy look mentioned by others in the comments, I don't know if that's true and I'm not the type of person that cares. I do get a lot of people looking at me though, but that's probably because they hardly ever see an electric scooter around here, or they think I'm doing something illegal and in NL the rules are the rules and deviation is not acceptable! ;)

Ok, I understand that there is a lot of benefits to electric scooters. They are fun, convenient, and allow to navigate quickly, and great for the environment, or at least better than cars. Why not driving regular bicycles? Obesity is a growing problem, because people don't exercise enough. Mechanical bicycle is a great low impact activity for modern life. Also, bicycles aren't generally allowed on a sidewalk, but I have seen people ride on them sidewalks. The author of the article, who is by the way the indoor enthusiasts, feels that scooters shouldn't be disallowed on the sidewalks. We need to place for people to walk without worrying about being hit by a scooter. We have roads for motor vehicles and we have side walks for people. Let's keep it this way.

The author of the article, who is by the way the indoor enthusiasts, feels that scooters shouldn't be disallowed on the sidewalks.

Pedestrians do not have lanes. Pedestrians are unpredictable. Pedestrians often step around things, like dogshit.

I cannot count on my hands and toes the number of times someone > 150 LBS has whipped around me on the sidewalk.

The damage they can do, should they collide with me, is great. The max is death. People fall in the bathtub and die all the time, from head injuries.

This idea that scooters can coexist with pedestrians is BS and needs to die.

I think a reasonable rule might be that you can ride them on sidewalks as long as you stay at least 25 feet from pedestrians. So basically if the sidewalk is empty, go for it. It might mean taking the side streets rather than the main ones, but that's ok.

I don't think these things coexist well with cars either. (nor do bikes, which is why I don't ride a bike in the city)

Pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings too. (another good rule, pick up your dog shit)

I think a reasonable rule might be that you can ride them on sidewalks as long as you stay at least 25 feet from pedestrians. So basically if the sidewalk is empty, go for it. It might mean taking the side streets rather than the main ones, but that's ok.


I once saved a kid from serious harm. I was waiting for my kid to come out of a martial arts test and I was waiting outside on the sidewalk. There was a class after my kid's that had lots of little kids in it. They were waiting inside, mostly. Basically, I saw a guy riding a bike down the sidewalk, about 30m away. I also saw a group of kids about to rush out the door, running. I literally just had enough time to hold out my arms and stop the bicyclist before he could get to where the kids were running. In essence, I put my body in front of him and he stopped.

The conversation didn't go well. I said he could have seriously injured the kids as they ran out of the door, 2-3 feet from him, and he decided to yell at me that he would have seen, blah blah blah.

> Pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings too.

That means walking in a perfectly straight line and never deviating from that line unless you clear your blind spots. But, that isn't even enough. I've been hit twice, in the last 20 years, by cyclists on the sidewalk, when I was walking in a straight line. Both said: I didn't mean it. Incidentally, 100% of bicyclists, when told it's not legal to ride on the sidewalk reply to me, said "I won't hit a pedestrian" and then somethings I get the f-word yelled at me (I was very polite to start, but not at this point).

Your anecdotes support the idea that it's hard for multiple modes of transportation with different travel speeds to coexist in the same space. When I cycle, I try to never ride on a sidewalk, because it's unpleasant both for me as a rider and for pedestrians.

In a perfect world, we would have separate infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists/scooters, and cars -- but our cities aren't laid out that way. Instead, most of the time, we devote huge tracts of land to cars, and force everyone else to share the scraps.

Where should the cyclists in your anecdote be riding? What speed do cars in the lanes nearby travel, and how aware are they of other road users?

The conversation can be very different from city to city, but in most places in America, sharing the road with cars means risking serious injury or death

> Where should the cyclists in your anecdote be riding?

The street. If they feel the danger is too great, then you know what? They have the choice to walk or take the bus or a car.

The choice to break the law and endanger my life is always a bad one. But it is a choice. They are trading their safety for mine, when they choose to ride on the sidewalk.

This is extremely black and white thinking. You are trading your safety for theirs when you insist that no one but pedestrians be in certain places.

Whether they are breaking the law is rather irrelevant, unless you think the problem would be solved by making riding bikes on the sidewalk legal (which you obviously don't). You can't say "the law shouldn't be changed because that would be bad" and then "it's bad to do it because it is illegal". That's circular logic.

Also, not everywhere is riding on a sidewalk illegal (example found with a quick google: "The City of Los Angeles permits riding bicycles on sidewalks, even in business districts, as long as cyclists do so with regard for the safety of pedestrians and property").

You gave an example of kids rushing out of a store. But if bikes/scooters/etc are regularly on sidewalks, wouldn't they then be taught to be careful? I mean, kids have to intermix with cars in parking lots (far more likely to cause death or serious injury than getting hit by a bike), and they are taught appropriate safety.

Who knows, maybe a kid getting a painful scrape or bruise by running into a bike will save their life later by making them more attentive next time, so they don't get run over by a bus. If you are going to list anecdotes (observed or imagined), you should consider all such possibilities.

The burden is on cyclists/scooter operators. In my city it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk. In California, motorized vehicles cannot be used on the sidewalk, I've been told by local Police officers I've discussed this with.

In the Netherlands, they know bikes and pedestrians don't mix, so they make separate paths. They are the gold standard for cyclist and pedestrian safety.

I, as a pedestrian, am an advocate for my safety. I walk 4 miles per day on the sidewalk and I can tell you since the scooters arrived, my safety is greatly at risk. With the number of hours I put in on sidewalks, it's only a matter of time before I get knocked down. I've had a bunch of very close calls already.

Will it be minor? Will I die due to a head injury? Don't know. The stakes are that high, though.

Everything you wrote is just avoiding the main issue.

"In California, motorized vehicles cannot be used on the sidewalk"

Possibly true. (actually electric skateboards are allowed) But bikes also entered the conversation.

Regardless, I personally find the discussion of what the rules should be, rather than what they are in any particular jurisdiction, to be more interesting.

"I've had a bunch of very close calls already."

I don't know where you live, but you're quite the outlier. Maybe your attitude that the burden is entirely on someone else is putting you in danger?

I have a 5 year old (and yes, we spend an awful lot of time on San Francisco sidewalks), and I teach her that the burden is always on her to keep herself safe.

Of the 8 people killed using electric scooters so far, all of them have been the riders. Maybe you'll be the first to die this way, but that sounds a bit unlikely to me, unless you are actively trying to. Also, I've yet to hear of a pedestrian bicycle accident that caused significant injury that happened on an actual sidewalk.

"Everything you wrote is just avoiding the main issue."

No, it's not.

It's simply calling you out for assuming that your views and your priorities are the only right ones. You show no nuance. Placing "the burden" entirely on one party, here in the real world, makes no sense to me.

Real talk - sweat. I can pop on a scooter for 20 minutes and get a cool breeze. If I rode my bike for 20 minutes I would arrive a dripping disgusting mess and would remain a stinky ape the rest of the day.

Concerned people have collectively been banging the ride-more-bicycles drum for decades. It hasn't worked. It doesn't even matter why, it's obvious at this point that commuters at large won't use them given a powered alternative. Why keep butting our head against that wall instead of supporting something people will actually use?

(I commuted via bike for years and as fun as it is it's beyond impractical. Parking, heat, rain, hills etc etc.)

The data I see says bike commuting nationwide grew 43% from 2000 to 2017, despite a dip leading into 2017. It's not just about powered alternatives, but spaces to do it. If you build a road for a powered vehicle and make the barest accommodations for everything else, of course powered vehicles will dominate. People take public transit more when you build more. They bike more when you build protected lanes. It's not about saying people should do these things, but rather saying that cities should better build for them.

The majority of people will indeed prefer powered bicycle and scooters if available. There are some countries and cities where there many people using bikes for their daily commute. The scooters are too small and underpowered for riding on the streets, and at the same time using them on the sidewalk can be dangerous for pedestrians, so I am not sure where they fit in the transportation picture.

The hundreds of thousands of people using them (who would never regularly use a bike) seem to disagree that they don't fit in the picture. Why go against a solution that takes cars off the road? Sure let's get scooters off the sidewalks, that's insane. Over here in Lisbon there are plenty of people riding them on streets and (previously deserted) bike lanes.

Why not driving regular bicycles?

Where do you put the bicycle when you get where you need to go?

> Where do you put the bicycle when you get where you need to go?

Aren't there any light posts close to where you need to go? Not even talking about dedicated bike spots or racks – which may be available on your location. If you are not a bicyclist, you may not have noticed them even if they are present.

If you are commuting, surely there is some place at your place employment where you can leave it?

More worrying is multi-mode transportation. If you location's public transport doesn't provide space for bikes, then it is a big problem.

In Copenhagen, we just leave them outside. In the courtyard, in a bike rack, or somewhere along the street. Huge buildings might have underground parking.

It's just like cars in other countries.

I lock mine at a nearby bike rack (yes, sometimes this requires traveling over a dozen yards). It's slightly more of a hassle than parking a scooter, but a lot less than parking a car.

I take it with me. On the train, restaurants, market, work, etc. I don't own a bike lock.


Also, it turns out all those batteries are not exactly eco-friendly.

If you're truly replacing bike trips (and the cyclist isn't eating or showering* more than they would riding a scooter), then the scooter is less eco-friendly.

If you're also replacing an occasional car trip, the scooter is likely a net win (an electric car has something like 300-500 scooter batteries in it).

*The energy used by a single hot shower will get you most of the way to LA (from San Francisco) on a scooter.

Honest question: How do people lock these things if visiting a shop for a half-hour?

(Edited to add: Sorry for confusion! I'm talking about an owned model like the one in OP, the Xiaomi Mi M365 - I looked at some product imagery and it wasn't clear if this was possible.)

There's a "Lock" button in the app. If you press that, the scooter doesn't allow anyone else to start using it, but you still pay per minute that you aren't using it.

Though if you're in a popular area there is no need, you can just walk a minute or less and find another.

Yeah locking is... a bit awkward. Bring it into the shop seems to be the best way to go, but there will definitely be situations where that's awkward or impossible... a small cable bike lock in your bag or wrapped around the stem will solve those cases.

Buy a folding one like the Condor (https://www.micro-mobility.com/en/products/micro-condor) and carry it around. See also: slinging it under the table in cafes, restaurants, pubs, and work. They're incredibly convenient.

Depends on the scooter. On the Xiaomi in question, yes, I've found it to be problematic. The solution is the Masterlock handcuff lock. One end around the tube between deck and bars, the other end around a post.

The Boosted Rev I have now has exposed frame rails so you can use your favorite bike lock.

That's the one. Weighs a chunk (maybe a bit more than a Kryptonite cable lock?), but it's solid and it solves the "lock up my Xiaomi" problem. Super-quick to lock and unlock, too.

how do you like the Rev?

The only disappointment is the range. If I hammer it in "ludicrous mode" on the eight mile ride to work, with at least one significant hill, I arrive at work at 10% remaining. OTOH, toning it down a bit could just about get me round trip. If I lived somewhere flat (I'm in the Seattle area) I'd come a lot closer to advertised. Hills kill my Leaf's range, too. I just keep a spare charger at work, and don't worry about it.

As for the rest, it's an iPhone/Pixel compared to the 2nd-tier-Android-like Xiamois. It's over-provisioned as far as motors, so whereas a Xiamoi is barely moving at its rated 14% grade, the Boosted is still pulling. The Boosted could easily exceed its 24mph limitation, so I assume that's a legal limitation. It's nice not to run at redline all the time like I do with the Xiaomi. Regen brakes are amazing. I rarely use the mechanical brake because the Boosted's regen will pull you down to a dead stop. In contrast, the Xiaomi's regen braking will haul you down if you're not in a hurry to stop, and you'll still need the disk brake for those last few feet.

In summary, if you plan to use a scooter as a vehicle, the Boosted is worth it. Not so much if you just want to go down the trail with your kids on the weekend. For that, or other occasional use, the Xiaomi is a bargain.

Also love the Rev - but rumor is it uses electricity to ebrake below 5mph. I generally just put my foot down at that point to come to a stop (or use the mechanical brake)

I bring mine inside and wheel it around while I shop. It takes up about as much space as a trolley or pram, so it's never inconvenienced anyone.

Oh I'm sure someone felt offended, whether they were actually inconvenienced or not. It's a typical reaction in some people: they don't see you mildly going about your business of picking tomatoes, they see the faceless e-scooter that got in their way earlier.

While you're at it, move out of the way I'm pushing my motorcycle through there.

I recently bought a Boosted rev and have been using it for my 1.8 miles commute. I strongly disagree with the author's 15mph limit. I think 25 mph is a more reasonable limit, otherwise you have cars aggressively trying to pass you on roads. At 24 mph (my scooters max speed), the cars on my commute (25mph speed limit), still try to pass me sometimes but it's a lot safer.

At 25MPH, a tiny crack or lip in the concrete would equal a very expensive faceplant. And it's not really even a matter of skill or reflexes - the tiny wheels of the current electric scooters are just not capable of handling imperfections at speed.

That's why you need bigger better wheels. I agree that going above 15 on a Xiaomi scooter is terrifying, but on the Boosted Rev, it's smooth as butter.

> That's why you need bigger better wheels

Or just one big one! https://onewheel.com

I switched to one of these after having a few too many wipeouts on a longboard. It's been fantastic.

It's wild that someone managed to manufacture a last mile transport device that makes the rider look even more of a goober than the scooters.

Oh man, wait until you see an EUC.

Onewheels are better than scooters in every way ... except price.

How so? Aren't they more difficult to ride and maybe more dangerous?

Not only bigger, but inflatable rubber wheels. The small, hard rubber wheels that we used to rip when Razor Scooters were huge in the 90s were great if you didn't value your face.

I broke my arm on one of those as a kid.

Were you trying to karate chop it in half?

They go over tiny cracks and lips just fine. It's potholes and large cracks that are a big problem. You learn to watch for and avoid them, just like you would on a skateboard.

Or maybe cars should obey the speed limit, pass at a safe and reasonable distance, and not road rage at people? I mean, why does every new alternative travel mode need to work around the unacceptable and lawless US driver behavior?

That all said, 25mph on scooter wheels sounds terrifying. I've seen some escooters with tiny adorable disc brakes. What's your stopping distance at that speed?

> Or maybe cars should obey the speed limit, pass at a safe and reasonable distance, and not road rage at people? I mean, why does every new alternative travel mode need to work around the unacceptable and lawless US driver behavior?

Because this is reality, not a fantasy world.

That all said, 25mph on scooter wheels sounds terrifying.

Meh, you work up to it. Time and place, though; I tone it down through the downtown part of the trail.

What's your stopping distance at that speed?

Faster than my car or motorcycle. And that's just using the regenerative braking of the motors. I've never tried a full-on-drop-anchor stop with both the mechanical disk and regen brakes.

> > What's your stopping distance at that speed?

> Faster than my car or motorcycle. And that's just using the regenerative braking of the motors. I've never tried a full-on-drop-anchor stop with both the mechanical disk and regen brakes.

Do you have a heavily modified scooter or something otherwise unusual? I looked up braking tests for cars, motorbikes, and e-scooters, and couldn't find a single e-scooter that's been tested that has the same stopping distance as a normal car let alone a sports or a motorcycle.

I don't think this is super surprising considering the relative size of the contact patch and what the "tire" is made of on most scooters.

In another comment, you said you have a Xiaomi scooter. In this brake test (https://www.zdnet.com/article/mi-electric-scooter-review-com...), it has a 13 foot stopping distance from 12.4mph even when using the disc brakes. This is similar to what other scooter tests show.

NACTO's suggestion for a conservative car stopping distance is 11 feet from 15mph, not including reaction time, which is the same as in the scooter test (https://nacto.org/docs/usdg/vehicle_stopping_distance_and_ti...).

How are you getting your scooter to stop more quickly than a motorcycle?

Better brakes. The Xiaomi’s stopping power isn’t even close to the Boosted Rev, mainly due to weak regen braking on the Xiaomi.

But you caught me, it’s all been measured on the seat-of-the-pants dyno. </shrug>

Drivers will pass if you’re going slow, and some of them will do it dangerously so faster scooters are a safe move. I can stop as fast as the cars do.

Because we design for worst case scenarios, not perfect utopias.

Be careful. I'm speaking from experience when I say that there are only so many lucky falls you can have when you are traveling faster than you can run, especially with only friction keeping your feet on the board.

I can’t imagine doing 25mph on such small wheels, one small pothole and you will be off.

Electric skateboards all go that speed and faster, and their wheels are even smaller— usually around the 80-100mm diameter range.

Electric skateboards are no less dangerous.

25 mph makes sense on the road (same with pedal-assist electric bikes), but on sidewalks 15 mph is definitely fast enough given the small wheels and lack of a suspension. even what look like small cracks/potholes can throw you off the scooter if you’re not paying attention.

You shouldn't be riding them on sidewalks, especially not at 15mph.

It's illegal most places to ride them on the sidewalk.

25 mph if you wear a helmet, register your vehice, get mandatory insurance and a driver's license or a drivng legislation certificate. Otherwise no. E-bikes are assisted up to 25 mph, why would e-scooters be any different? At least in Europe, if you have an e-bike that is assisted up to 25 mph or over 250 Wh continous rated power, you have to register it as a moped, wear s helmet, get insurance, pay vehicle ownership taxes in order to operate it on public roads.

There are already too many irresponsible e-scooter riders on the roads who ride the wrong way on one way streets, cross mounted at pedestrian crossings, ride on sidewalks, ignore red lights, stop signs etc.

All those behaviours are bad, but the point of mandatory insurance is to cover liability— the ability of your choices and your equipment to incur damage and costs for others. In that regard, mandatory insurance for scooters doesn't pass the sniff test any more than mandatory insurance for people riding bicycles.

Yes, you can concoct scenarios where a scooter/bike triggers a crash by doing something unexpected/illegal such that another vehicle swerves. But these are rare circumstances, particularly in contrast with automobile collisions which nearly always involve damage to vehicles or property. Even at 25, 30, or even 40mph, how much damage is a scooter or e-bike capable of doing?

Bicycle licensing has been requested and studied so many times in Toronto that they actually have a page on their website about why it isn't done: https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/streets-parking-tra...

I'm not talking about push scooters, muscle operated bicycles or pedal assisted e-bikes with a power rating below or equal to what an average person delivers. This is a discussion about motorized vehicles with more powerful engines that can operate at speeds in excess of 15 mph. At 25 mph you can definitely kill a pedestrian or knock another cyclist and injure them. Bicycle licensing is unnecessary.

1/2 * (100 kg vehicle + occupant) * (45 mph)^2 = 6328 J

~7×10^3 J = Muzzle energy of an elephant gun, e.g. firing a .458 Winchester Magnum[90]


my only experience with the rental scooters is the Lime ones, but i felt that a 15mph limit was if anything too high. If they had better brakes, they could go a lot faster, but with the quality of brakes that are installed anything greater than 15mph could lead to some really dangerous situations.

The last mile has been solved?

Now we simply need to make the 50-75 miles in-between more bearable. Hopefully, someday soon we’ll be covering that vast distance at the incredible speed of 100 mph (160 kph)


> Hopefully, someday soon we’ll be covering that vast distance at the incredible speed of 100 mph (160 kph)

> https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/china-driverless-maglev-t...

Intercity / regional trains are already a thing, and 160kph or so is a standard top speed for them e.g. Class 387, SNCF Class B 81500, …

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Régiolis

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNCF_Class_B_81500

In the US , the problem is dedicated Rail ROW to run intercity trains at a frequency where they are actually competitive with the car. Otherwise ROW acquisition tends to sink most proposals, and this not counting the actual construction costs

Currently the main problem is that trains run late, mostly due to insufficient infrastructure and old stuff breaking down. Sometimes accidents or mismanagement.

> Now we simply need to make the 50-75 miles in-between more bearable.

Mine is 15 miles, and the problem is stops (which top speed does nothing to address).

You're being a little vague so it's impossible to analyze.

However, if your average speed is 25 mph and the average doubled to 50 mph, I'm sure you'd be happy. With maglevs, we'd probably want more express trains.

My point is that top speed is only relevant when a train can reach it. If a train stops every two miles or less (like mine does in the morning), the vast majority of the time is spent accelerating, decelerating, or stopped.

Is your train an electric multiple unit? Those have far lower stop penalties.

Rolling stock acceleration is specified & designed based on requirements which is based on passenger safety & comfort (especially on regional / intercity trains) rather than rolling stock constraints: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40864-015-0012-y

Modern "diesel" trains are diesel electric, outside of large freight trains the motors don't really strain to accelerate.

> If the top speed is 160 km/h, then a good EMU has a stop penalty of about 45 seconds, a powerful electric locomotive about 135 seconds, and a diesel locomotive around 190 seconds. With short dwell times coming from level boarding and wide doors, EMUs completely change the equation for local service and infill stops, making more stops justifiable in places where the brutal stop penalty of a locomotive would make them problematic.

-- https://pedestrianobservations.com/2018/06/28/the-value-of-m...

For example, I'm visiting the Bay Area this morning and Caltrain (diesel locomotive) has acceleration much lower than BART (electric multiple unit). Acceleration here is determined by what's practical with the equipment, not the maximum forces people can currently handle.

I'd love to get an electric scooter for commuting but my commute is a little long (and very hilly in Seattle). I occasionally commute on my electric bike though and it's a blast. It's also the fastest mode of travel hands down in the city, second only to my regular motorcycle.

The biggest thing with these low end electric bikes/scooters is that they have a hard time with the hills and really slow down and burn through power on them. My bike will do ~45mph but there's hills on my commute where I top out at ~19mph (with a running start of ~30mph).

But if you're commute in <5mi I think the scooter might be the best because as other have noted it's the most convenient, being able to take it inside with you to stores or hop on the bus or toss it in a car are extremely valuable features to me. Theft is my biggest concern but again with a cheap scooter you aren't out too bad if it gets jacked.

I think with hilly areas having regenerative breaking helps as you can regain some of the loss on the way down.

Regen is fairly common with direct-drive hubs, but it's not beneficial for range. You get something like 5% more range on a hilly route. The vast majority of energy goes to drag unless you're puttering along at 10mph.

It is very useful, but more for saving brake wear.

As much some cities are struggling to figure out how to regulate them I think my city has basically nailed it first try. Give a license or two to certain companies to allow their scooters and other wise just use them like bikes. Keep them off side walks that are for pedestrians and otherwise use bike lanes. Just makes sense.

>Keep them off side walks that are for pedestrians and otherwise use bike lanes.

this makes the assumption that your city has a functional bike lane network, which is the problem in a lot of cities. If you have bike lanes, it's really easy. If you don't have bike lanes, suddenly you have this friction where there's suddenly a whole lot more people trying to use the streets but not in a car.

You really need to scrap the massive subsidies that incur to cars via free or nearly free parking in many cities: https://www.city-journal.org/html/high-cost-free-parking-146.... This will lead to an incredible surplus of space for smaller vehicles; it's often easy to fit 6 - 18 of them in a give space currently legally mandated for cars.

I watched the same battery technology improvement play out in tools at the hardware store. There are now whole kits for the mobile contractor they call "wireless"...

I would buy one right now if it had larger wheels and proper brakes. In my area such small wheels would turn any speed bump or road irregularities (pretty normal over here) into a fatal accident waiting to happen.

Lots of places are not even bicycle safe and walkable. So I don't even see how Electric scooter will work in those locations. I notice it's adopted in places where people can walk and bike.

It's become somewhat popular in the US, despite the US having no cities with good bike infrastructure. Convenience is a hell of a drug.

The way I see it, this increased uptake could help drive greater investment in bike lanes and walkability. Politically, it's always easier to spend money on things people already do than on things they might do if you spent enough.

Ideally, we'd have carless urban centers, with only buses, light rail, and small vehicles (bikes and scooters) allowed in a certain radius. This would allow greater density in the downtown area, eliminate most pollution, and promote general health, yet for some reason, nobody seems to propose it. It could even be coupled with free mass transportation in that region, since costs for running such a service would likely decrease (could probably even have it driverless since there aren't as many hazards).

The toughest nut to crack would be replacing trucks, which could probably be handled with either light rail handling goods or truck-only roads completely segregated from the rest of the roads (say, tunnel or overpass).

Drop the speed limit down to 15 mph on all side streets, and some main streets. Leave a few arterial streets here and there.

Delivery trucks can still share the space, not huge semis but smaller ones are no problem, they are infrequent enough making deliveries to businesses that they shouldn't be a huge burden (see: How the rest of the world handles it).

Keep semis on the main streets of course.

For larger arterial streets, separate traffic by size. Honestly fences are cheap and used in other countries, I am not sure why American cities insist on just thin painted white lines. It is not like a fence takes up significantly more space. :/ (Maybe 2 inches extra width, if that?)

The Burnham plan for Chicago had the city designed with a double-decker road grid. Trucks would use the lower grid. There are some underground streets still though at this point there isn't any kind of segregation of traffic (if anything the underground roads are more for moving cars quickly past the city

> The toughest nut to crack

And you somehow managed to completely forget that families with small children exist.

Every time we put my son onto or into a bike, I'm reminded of the impossibility of our existence.

"children" is plural not singular.

Got my kid a FreeGoUSA.com scooter a year or so ago before he had his driver's license. This scooter is a dual motor version with a massive battery - it weighs 75 pounds, goes 30mph and has a 20-30 mile range. Once he got his license, I assumed he'd probably want to just drive a car, but he much prefers the scooter: Faster in traffic, no need to fill it with gas. In fact, the scooter has completely reshaped his perception of gasoline and cars - it just seems like a horrible waste of money while also polluting. Can't say I disagree with him.

not sure where jeff got the the initial $800 price of the m365. even his camelcamelcamel chart shows a $600 ceiling. i bought mine at $500 and can confirm that getting it at $350 is a no-brainer.

as he says, it absolutely extends your range for all kinds of situations (yes, even carry one in your car). it’s not very rugged so put slime in the tires as he says and expect some other things to break. i disagree about taking it in stores—it’s awkward but totally acceptable in most places you’d ride a scooter to (grocery store, cafe, target, etc)

definitely looking forward to the pro!

I ride a regular non-electric scooter regularly and the biggest problem with it is the weather. The scooter solves the "last mile" problem for me, but I can depend on it only for ~7 months in a year, which means I can't really plan my commute, choose the places where I live and work.

I don't see this problem discussed enough and can't imagine anything better than public transport for the winter. It's a real bummer.

I have lived in Shanghai and had an electric scooter as my main mode of transportation for several years, its incredible for city traffic and i miss it.

However, I dont get why everyone is using these standup kickbike type scooters... those suck, clearly.

Scooters like Niu is where its at: https://www.niu.com/en/

I saw the scooter/motor bike craze in India and I have to say I was not impressed. It was a necessity, yes, but instead of everyone riding million scooters public transport should be the main mode of transportation for majority of people in big cities. The traffic is already too congested and with every oil-burning vehicle out there unsustainable.

I'm living in Tel Aviv

It's crazy to see how in 2-3 years there are thousands of people using electric scooters and bikes.

The only problem is that it grows in such a rapid pace that the city is not built to it. There are many small incidents, and in many cases, those incidents are pretty risky.

It's weird how so much of the conversation about these is how they look. If everyone rode them, they'd look normal. If the looked normal, more people would ride them. Is the only solution to have early adopters who don't give a crap?

I wonder why mopeds have never taken off in the US. Seems more practical than a scooter for medium to long distances within a city. I have relatives in Taiwan and mopeds are everywhere there (and other parts of Asia).

I think cars a cheaper relatively in the USA also a lot of places I believe you need to pass the test for a full bike licence. That is a 900 -1200cc super bike that can do a very good time round the TT course or the ring.

How steep of a hill can you get up with these things? My street is pretty hilly and I would hate to shell out for a cool device that I have to lug the last two blocks to my house.

Not very TBH, I use one to commute to head to the train station. On the way back I have to climb back up the hill omw home and its maybe ~5% grade, and I have to peddle to keep going uphill.

My scooter is rated at 250w (600w peak, which is on the low side) but is incredibly compact when folded, which is a huge plus. Considering upgrading to a more powerful one, but losing the compactness might not be worth the trade off to me — I can fit this scooter between my legs in a packed uber pool (!)

I have a Boosted Rev and live in Nob Hill in SF with some steep hills. It zooms up all the hills pretty easily.

I take mine over the Williamsburg bridge (3-4% grade) to work every day. I can generally get two commutes on one battery charge, but the speed degrades with lower battery levels so I try to keep charged. If you're on lower battery over a hill, kick-pushing a bit helps a lot.

My Xiaomi becomes impractically slow around 15% (probably less, I've not properly measured). My Boosted Rev, I've yet to find anything in the Redmond, WA area that it won't climb with gusto. The Boosted cost $1600US, though.

Mine works just fine in Wellington, which has steeper streets than San Francisco.

Isn't the best solution for "last mile" for all of us is to walk it?

Walking is slow. Walking a mile takes around 20 minutes. If you walk a mile to the transit station at the beginning and walk a mile at the end, that's 40 minutes of travel time before you even factor in the bus/train trip.

Of course, walking is to be encouraged where practical, but it has a very short effective range compared to a bike or scooter. Scooters and bikes drastically extend the effective reach of transit stations, with much less of a downside compared to cars (less polluting, less noisy, less danger for others, less parking space).

There's also the issue of weather. Many of us live in places where it rains, heavily and frequently. Or it's extremely hot and humid and the result of walking is that you arrive at your destination soaked in sweat.

I love to get out and walk in my neighborhood whenever possible, but walking even half a mile in the summer heat in Atlanta in work appropriate clothing is going to wreck your appearance.

I used to live in the south (New Orleans) and their idea of work appropriate clothing is absurd for the weather. Long sleeves, ties, etc. Worst part is that no one wants to wear them, so they buy the cheapest, sloppiest looking version of them, which is worse than just letting people dress casually.

>Walking is slow. Walking a mile takes around 20 minutes.

Maybe if you are crawling. Thats 3 miles an hour.

That's indeed the average adult walking speed.

Have you ever measured how fast you walk? I walk a couple miles every morning at an okay pace with my dog and I still average about 17 minutes a mile.

If I'm walking alone I do about a 10 minute mile but I think I walk fairly fast.

You are either measuring incorrectly, or you are fully aware that the vast majority of the population walk nowhere near that fast, as I'm sure you've noticed as you blow by them.

6 mph. First search suggests Olympic race walkers average about 7.7 mph. Another site suggests power walkers max out at 5.7 mph.

Factor in stop lights and other holdups, sounds like a good estimate to me. Now let us be generous and say 15min, thats still an extra 30min thus TulliusCicero's point still stands.

If I push it, I can get to my closest bus stop (~1 mile away) in 15 minutes (assuming no waits for traffic, but my legs will be tired. On my bike, it's closer to 5 minutes, less if I push it. If I'm considering taking the bus, you can bet I'll need to factor in getting to the stop. As it stands, taking the bus to my job takes ~40 minutes if I take my bike, 50-60 minutes if I walk, which is really bad compared to my 20 minute commute by car.

I'm a fast walker, but I definitely wouldn't consider taking the bus if it meant walking everyday.

Figuring in traffic lights, this is pretty close, even as a fast walker.

We can't all be 23 year old marathon runners who shower and change at work.

In Dallas (and other southern cities, Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix etc) your evening commute might involve 20 minutes of walking in 100F/37C which is rather unpleasant. You are drenched in sweat if you're wearing a button down shirt and slacks. I put up with this on a bicycle in my mid-20s but now in later years I would rather just call an uber than be totally miserable.

In July-August-September it can be over 90F/32C in the morning commute, with 90%+ humidity.

Breezing along in 100F on a scooter at top speed you might still sweat a little bit from the sun, but not much.

Last mile is kind of a badly chosen phrase. It should really be the last 10 minutes or 20 minutes.

Journeys (especially commutes) are bounded by how long you're willing to travel, rather than how far.

Anyway, some people may be able to walk from the station to work in 10 minutes, that radius is fairly small though. A scooter increases that radius significantly, allowing many more people to be within 10 minutes of the station.

It's probably the best solution for you.

Please let other people decide what's best for them.

That is not how cities work.

It's not just about choice, it's a safety issue.


> Earlier this year, a CR investigation—which tabulated injuries from 110 hospitals in 47 U.S. cities—found that at least 1,500 riders had been injured since e-scooters were introduced in late 2017, and there were four fatalities. Since then, CR has identified an additional four deaths.

Okay, and? Raw death numbers, without corresponding usage numbers, are kind of useless. More people die as pedestrians, or in cars, than on scooters after all. Deaths/mile or deaths/hour would both allow some sort of real comparison.

These deaths are on top of the already occurring deaths, these would not have happened if the person was walking instead.

> a 5-year-old boy riding with his mother died when he fell off a scooter and was hit by a vehicle.

Why do you think that? The evidence you described does not support this conclusion; do you have access to some other private evidence you aren't sharing?

No, the safety issue is cars. Take away cars and you take away 99.9% of transportation's ~40,0000 annual fatalities.

No you don't, you'll just replace them with something else.

Assuming of course you are not increasing people's travel times with your new device.

If your plan is actually "make everything slow and take forever", then sure you can get rid of fatalities.

Scooters have no regulation and constant misuse. Yes cars are dangerous, but that's not what we're talking about, and you can't remove them, unless you plan to relocate everyone to urban areas, revamp public transportation in urban areas (which can't seem to be done, see California train), and figure out how to stock stores without trucks.

You can't talk about scooter safety without talking about how scooter users are dying. You need to wade past scores of dead people killed by a driver to find one or two unfortunate people who wrapped themselves around trees. Automobiles are so far and away the most lethal element on the road that there's no point in talking about anything else.

I refuse to talk about cracking pavement or helmet laws before we talk about why drivers feel entitled to go double the speed limit, text and drive, or be "just a little" drunk. How many people have coworkers that take work calls on their way into work? I know a lot of people who brag about their callous disregard for other people's safety. It's a sick disease.

Walking is not disruptive.

Or bike it. Also healthy and infrastructure and laws are there.

People with disabilities cannot use these scooters anyway, they need something different.

I cycle a lot, but bikes are a pain in that you need somewhere to park them, something to secure them to prevent them getting robbed, they're horrid in the rain and you have to ride on the road or a bike path. I can see the attraction for scooters that avoid these problems, but for the length of journey they're good for, why not just walk?

> but for the length of journey they're good for, why not just walk?

I use scooters occasionally and there is a sweet spot in the 30-60 minute walk range. A 30 minute walk turns into a ~6 minute scooter ride (assuming 3mph walking and 13mph scooter). If you're talking about roundtrip then you're saving over 45 minutes by scootering.

Sure, if it's a lazy Saturday and I'm just moseying around then I'll walk. But if I'm running to the gym and back after work then it's worth it to me to save those 45 minutes.

How do scooters solve any of these problems? Do you not have to park scooters? Do they not suck in the rain? Do they not need some surface to ride on?

The great thing about the scooter is that it isn't mine, so I don't have to worry about it getting stolen.

That's it. That's the killer feature.

And a rental bike does not have this feature?

Sort of, but most bike rental places will charge you a fairly hefty fee (some places I know charge around $200-$300).

With the scooters, you just have to find a different scooter and continue about your business.

That's not a problem inherent in the bike or scooter.

> The great thing about the scooter is that it isn't mine, so I don't have to worry about it getting stolen.

Except that the scooter companies can't figure this out either and are moving to a monthly rental to put the burden back on you.

> In April, it announced the launch of a more traditional rental program in San Francisco and Barcelona, in which users could pay $25 per month to rent a Xiaomi m365 from the company rather than paying per ride.

The gig economy is about externalizing all the costs, ya'know.

For rentable escooters, the consumer doesn't really have to worry about them being stolen. And they're easier to park than bikes.

What makes a rentable scooter easier to park than a rentable bike?

Scooters are smaller.

Because you just leave them wherever.

Edit: Not voicing approval for this practice but that’s how it seems to work in my city at least.

But why couldn't you do the same with a rental bike? Also not approving, just asking.

By park you actually mean litter everywhere, as there are very few designated parking places, much fewer than for bicycles.

That's a city planning problem, though. Designated small-vehicle parking that isn't explicitly for bikes seems like a good idea to have. No reason bike storage should be bike-exclusive

The scooter companies are free to fund installation.

Honestly, I think scooter companies should be fined for any scooters left in a place that causes problems. It's essentially litter, so it should be treated as such. Scooter companies should be providing some means of locking them up securely and expect their users to use them.

I doubt there were many parking lots when cars were new, too.

I think it simply comes down to average speed. Have a click around https://app.traveltimeplatform.com/ and assume scooters are more-or-less the speed of cycles.

People with disabilities can't use stairs, should we stop building those too?

It's okay to support a mode that only most of the population can use. There are still other modes, just like with stairs and elevators/ramps.

That's explicitly not what I meant. I meant that disabled people cannot use either.

The scooters solve no problems bicycles already do not, not exactly even portability yet.

They create problems of litter on sidewalks, trash generation due to damage (where rental bikes are typically fixable if damaged) and issues of safety as they're much less visible and people tend to not use the bell...

A friend of mine is a quadruple amputee, so he'll never drive, and the bus sucks. He gets around as much as possible on his electric wheelchair, which is a micromobility device, and he benefits from micromobility infrastructure that bikes and electric scooters use. I pick him up and we go to the pub together, I'm on my skateboard.

It's funny, Handicap parking spots are sacred. What kind of a deplorable, revolting human being would ever park in a handicap spot if they weren't handicapped? Pictures and videos of horrible, wretched human beings parked in handicapped spots are posted online so they can be called out and shamed.

Yet there are so many disabled people who cannot work a regular job and/or cannot qualify for a licence. Everything about cars makes their lives more difficult. Often they just stay at home, because getting anywhere is such a costly and/or harrowing chore. Handicap spots are just more parking lot they have to cross to get where they're trying to go.

> That's explicitly not what I meant. I meant that disabled people cannot use either.

So what was the point of bringing it up then?

> The scooters solve no problems bicycles already do not

Sure they do. Part of the issue with bikes is a chicken and egg problem where politicians are hesitant to invest money into bike infra, because not enough people ride. And many people don't ride because of bad bike infra.

Many, perhaps most of the people riding escooters don't ride their own bike around, or wouldn't ride a rentable ebike, for whatever reason. That's why the scooters got uptake much more rapidly than rentable ebikes.

So once you have more people on modes that fit bike infrastructure, because of, say, the ease of use and accessibility of electric scooters, it becomes easier to fight for that bike infrastructure.

Plenty of disabled people can use scooters. Not all disabilities involve a wheelchair. Some people are just severely restricted on top speed, or distance, range of motion, or other factors. Scooters can make perfect sense for some people with disabilities who may not be able to ride bikes.

If scooters create problems because they're left out, fine the scooter companies for littering. That will cut into their profits, so they'll either innovate ways to make them less of a nuisance or stop doing business. Banning them makes little sense. Cities can help by increasing availability of bike racks, and scooter companies can help by providing locks on those racks to customers.

It's likely that more people with disabilities can use these scooters than can use bikes.

Additionally, people with disabilities pioneered personal electric transportation long before Bird or Lime. The form factor is different, but the technology is essentially the same. Electric wheelchair tech is highly enabling for people with disabilities.

> People with disabilities cannot use these scooters anyway

You are making broad assumptions about what people with disabilities need or want. Disabled does not always mean "wheelchair", and not every disability is visible to you, nor does it need to be.

Some disabilities, or other medical conditions, make walking a few blocks (let alone miles) prohibitive. Some disabilities mean taking the elevator rather than the stairs. Some disabilities make a bicycle unusable.

Also healthy...

Man, I'm just tryin' to get to work. Why does every alternative to plopping my ass in a giant wheelchair have to be "healthy"? What, "not a car" isn't good enough?

infrastructure and laws are there.

You might be surprised to find that electric scooters work just as well as bicycles on that infrastructure. Laws? Meh, were my municipality backward (and they are not) it wouldn't necessarily mean I'd pay much attention to their directives until they change.

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