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Lime shuts in 12 markets, lays off around 100 (axios.com)
238 points by Deimorz 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 337 comments

Does anyone actually think this is a profitable market?

Electric scooters are expensive, repair and charging is expensive. It’s a seasonal business. Vandalism/abuse is fairly common.

In terms of any environmental benefit, I highly suspect more gasoline is being consumed to collect and distribute scooters than the offset of a few last mile transports.

I suspect the cost to the consumer would have to double for it to maintain any profitability, and the demand already sucks.

Why did the VCs value these as billion dollar companies? Desperation?

Id suspect its the disconnect between wealth and reality. At the end of the day the VC only sees what the VC wants to see. in this case a verdant world of the futuristic e-scooter where each is powered by the fantastic internet technology of the smartphone and destined to enrich and engage the lives of millions while forging a new path in e-commerce that will surely reward the diligent shareholder.

unforeseen is the army of charging slaves that patrol the city at 4 AM for a few extra dollars at their own expense. E-scooters launched through shop windows and into streets after bars close. The Litigation prompted from both governments endless frustration with this new corporate detritus littering the public sidewalk, and citizens facing ugly medical expenses after the sobering reality that cars in the United States are still far more prevalent, careless, and lethal than any chinese internet scooter.

How are they slaves? They have the free will to decide if they want to work or not.

Yeah? Depends how you define free will.

If people want to eat and make rent, they need to afford it somehow, and the employment options are bleak (see: charging scooters).

So maybe you meant they have "the free will to decide if they want to work shitty jobs, or not live". We can't be too surprised that the suicide rate is going up in this country.

That’s a weird definition of a slave and free will. By this definition none of us have free will since most things we do are driven by some motivation. I want to eat and make rent, so I work for the money to do so. Now I’m a slave?

I think it may have to do with the number of options a person has to earn money. To those with few options a shitty job can feel a lot like slavery.

Taking someone to task over the technically incorrect use of the word slavery seems a bit pedantic at best.

Income inequality, underemployment and lack of employment opportunities are real problems. But words have meaning, and we as a species have had a pretty ugly history with slavery. Let’s not dilute the meaning of that word when there are others that are more accurate.

Experience demonstrates that there may be a slavery of wages only a little less galling and crushing in its effects than chattel slavery, and this slavery of wages must go down with the other.

If you hate your job, which has negative affects on your health, are you really free just because you get to choose what clothes you wear or what you have for lunch?

Yes because I can choose to find another job. No one chained me to my desk.

I can see personal e-scooters as being a great alternative to cars for short trips such as commuting less than 5-ish km to work, or taking the kids to school. However, I still think bicycles are vastly preferable. With a pannier rack you get quite a bit more cargo space, and in the winter, the fact that you're physically exerting yourself helps to keep you warm, which makes for a more comfortable and pleasant trip. Also, the whole "Lithium batteries aren't supposed to be operated below 10C" situation limits e-scooters' value for a large chunk of the year in temperate climates.

The for-hire e-scooter market continues to seem to me like a novelty more than a realistic transportation option. My city's recent e-scooter pilot program hasn't done much to dispel that notion. People used them quite a bit in the first few weeks, but, by the end, most the scooters were obviously going all day without being used.

Also, the whole "last mile" argument started seeming a lot more hollow once I realized that, by the time I got to the busy areas where e-scooters were being placed in the mornings, I was already 75% of the way to the train station. More like "last block". And, at least when they were being used, I'd have to walk well out of my way to find one to use on the way home, too, because they were scattered all over the neighborhood as a result of their normal and intended usage pattern. So, they didn't seem to be much of an effort saver going in either direction.

All that said, I'm guessing that they were being highly valued because of the very low barrier to entry for the market. A fleet of e-scooters is presumably quite a bit less expensive to purchase and maintain than a fleet of docked rental bikes. What got lost in the shuffle was the fact that the dock, while it might seem like an unnecessary annoyance, is actually a big part of what makes those rental bikes pleasant to use.

The major issue for me with biking, particularly e-biking, is that it can be very expensive if your bike is stolen. Secure bike parking is hard to come by in many places, and even secured bike parking can be broken into. In my city it's also very hilly, so I've taken a rideshare bike down the hill but not up it. Docking also solves this problem, but the problem with docks is that they have to go through whatever NIMBY-obstructed local process the municipality has for setting up docks, they have to be appropriately densely spaced together, etc. and that's a lot of work. Bike/scooter share, at least initially, tried doing the Uber model of "break rules and apologize/legalize later", but I think cities wised up after Uber did it once.

Dockless scooters are also much more immediately annoying to a lot more people - basically, a few people ride them, and everyone else trips over and/or fears getting hit by them on the sidewalks.

By contrast, at least in the early stages, rideshare was almost invisible to anyone who wasn't actively using it. That left a much longer runway for the "break rules and then get forgiveness" strategy.

I'd take my bike everywhere if I knew it'd still be there after I finished having lunch, visiting friends, grocery shopping etc.

As it is though, my bike isn't even safe chained up in a locked garage.

What's going on in America if absolutely everyone is afraid if theft? Or are the bikes just big target?

There's a market for stolen bikes, and there are enough people whose incentives are such that the rewards of stealing seem higher than the risks of getting caught and punished.

And one place that people land after they fall through the cracks of society is petty theft. In the US, we just have bigger cracks than many other wealthy developed countries. I don't like the theft anymore than anyone else, but I'd rather we not fix it by further criminalizing people through an even harsher police state than we already have, and becoming like even more authoritarian countries.

It's funny that we constantly ask this (very fair) question about common theft, but don't as often express such incredulity at the existence of extreme wealth. These two are connected in many ways.

It's just bikes. Mostly because they're valuable+standardized enough to be easily fenced, and yet not high-value enough for police to bother investigating. It's like leaving MacBooks sitting on street corners.

My understanding is that bike theft is not prosecuted, even if you found someone that stole 1000 bikes.

If you stole 10 dollars from a bank, you can bet you are prosecuted. Bikes are just not defended as private property for some reason.

Bike chop shops that do that kind of volume do get prosecuted because it’s relatively easy to show that a place is selling a large volume of scrap metal from bikes.

It is much harder to prove that a thief is responsible for 1000 individual bike thefts, because you’d need evidence for each bike.

Proving bike theft is as easy as honeypotting any bike. Its just no prosecuted. It's a cultural blindspot for what I think are probably historical reasons.

You can steal a car priced lower than a bike and get a year in jail. ITs not about the cost of proving anything, it's about the willingness of the institution to enforce it.

first of all, yes, anything of value not bolted down is going to get stolen pretty fast in most american cities.

bikes are a particularly easy target. most people seem to use those U-locks that can only go through the frame and one wheel at most. the thief then pops off the other wheel and either pawns it or sells it for scrap. even if you secure the frame and both wheels, people will still strip the shifters and brakes off of it. people can also just cut the lock itself if they bring the appropriate equipment.

finally, nice bikes tend to really stick out. if you lock your $1000 schwinn alongside a bunch of shitty bikes, the thief will go for your bike every time.

- Bikes are an easy target given that most locks are easy to deal with and it’s the only mechanism preventing them from moving; cars are hard if not impossible to hotwire these days

- Bikes are high value but not extremely so, unlike a car, and most police forces do not take bike theft seriously

- Walking around with a stolen bike is a lot less conspicuous than walking around with, say, a stolen TV

Nice bikes are $3000 - $10000. That's not something you want to leave chained to a lamp post in the street. Any lock can be picked or cut.

anda great entryway for a budding insurance startup to get customers

There's already Velosurance. It's a good service if you've got a nice bike you're looking to cover.i But it's a heck of a lot cheaper to use a cheap bike as your townie, though, and accept that you might have to replace it every few years.

And it's amazing how strong a theft deterrent crap like stickers can be - it takes 5 seconds with a dremel for a bike thief to grind the serial numbers off a frame so it can't be traced, but the time it takes to scrub stickers off a frame to get it in resellable condition, divided by a cheap frame's resale value, easily works out to an even lower wage than driving for Uber.

Anecdotally, I make my bike up to look like bits are held on with duct tape (they aren't), and in 25 years I've never had a bike stolen. My theory is that thieves aren't looking close enough to figure out that it isn't actually a hoopty bike.

i utilized and loved the dockless scooters for the first two weeks of my last job in SF, until I found out there was a bicycle room in the garage downstairs.

> I can see personal e-scooters as being a great alternative to cars for [...] taking the kids to school

If it's close to 5km, are you really going to take the kids on scooters?

If it's closer to 1km, how about simply walking? Reality check: we have two (of three) kids in school, their walk to school is just over half a mile, they both walk more or less every single day, in summer and winter and in the rain and the snow.

Oddly they really like walking to school in the snow :)

When I was a kid I used to ride my leg-powered bicycle three miles to school. 5km on an e-scooter doesn't seem that far different. That's really not a long distance at all.

You need a drivers license for the dockless scooters, so there's no way for a child to legally ride one.

You don't need one for a kick scooter though, and exercise is good for kids.

I visited Moscow last year, and noticed they have docked scooters: https://www.rbth.com/lifestyle/328422-how-rent-electric-scoo...

Plenty of places have undocked bicycles, so a fair comparison is possible.

> Plenty of places have undocked bicycles...

They certainly do: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-J_4_SQmUNQo/Wuwwsp5w6BI/A...

I live in Moscow and far more people use docked bikes than docked scooters. There aren't that many places where you can ride the scooter smoothly so they're only available in the very center of Moscow where a lot of sidewalks have been repaved recently. And half of the year the weather is not suitable for riding a scooter.

Same story in Canada. I'm in a big city and the scooters aren't really useful outside of the city center, both because of how the scooters do "zones" but also because hills, bike lanes, and sidewalks are very hit-or-miss in terms of quality and safety.

They're a fun novelty, but not a solution to public transit.

It might be an issue of implementation then, specifically with density. I had a good example of this.

About a year ago ebikes were around in Beijing but not many of them. While I enjoyed riding them (beats traffic here over low single digit KM range and faster than a bike) it was frustrating to have to hunt for them. So while I opportunistically used them when convenient it wasn’t frequent.

Fast forward to now, there are enough of them around that I can pretty much always find one on the current block. Now I use them as my primary mode of transportation ever short distances.

I own both a bike and an e-scooter and one of the things I really like about my e-scooter is I can fold it up and bring it in with me to a restaurant or my office or wherever else I am going. A bike I have to find a place to lock it and pray it doesn’t get stolen, as has happened to me multiple times in the past.

This isn’t necessarily applicable to a rental market, but as far as personal ownership the e-scooter is just vastly more convenient in a major city with high rates of bicycle theft.

It seems that a lot of VC is a multivariate ponzi scheme of sorts, which might explain some of it. If they're making fees regardless, then they just need to show/push fast initial growth to attract more layers of investment and it doesn't necessarily need to make long term sense.

Chamath Palihapitiya describes this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVVsdlHslfI

Wow, thank you. This guy decisively describes what I’ve been yammering to my friends about since moving to SF and learning about this industry.

I was there for this, and starting at the 09:30 mark it was exactly what I was thinking about when I read the headline.

> Why did the VCs value these as billion dollar companies? Desperation?

That's my guess. 10+ years of very low interest rates and wealthy people having more and more free cash seems to have led to a lot of crazy valuations in tech investing and elsewhere.

Interest is already negative in Japan for years, and now it's negative on Europe too. The US is heading fast to this insane reality of negative interests too. Since 2008 the FED has multiplied the amount os dollars in circulation by what, 5-10 times? This created this crazy scenario where the Softbanks of the world see a business model that is clearly destined to fail and never be profitable, and still keep pouring money on it at higher and higher valuations. I live in Brazil, and the price these companies charge for the scooter rides here is totally out of our economic reality. I'm just waiting for this HUGE bubble to explode. UBER, Netflix, WeWork, Tesla to some extent. All multi billion dollar companies that never return profits to their investors. I for one am glad to be getting cheap UBER rides down here at the expense of the pension funds of millions of americans, but this can not go on forever. Since the end of 2019 I began to switch my investments to gold and wait for the crash. Trump gave me some help with this gold idea this week, so far so good ;-)

> The US is heading fast to this insane reality of negative interests too. Since 2008 the FED has multiplied the amount os dollars in circulation by what, 5-10 times?

> I'm just waiting for this HUGE bubble to explode.

Wait till you calculate how much money is necessary to push US bonds into negative territory. Ka-CHING long 10 yr bond futures, leverage uuuuup if you think the first you said is actually going to happen, because that means bubble doesn't explode

Very simple, have you ever rode a scooter? Once I took a ride along the beach in Southern California, it was immediately obvious, and, I was hooked! It's a disruptive, perfect combination of technologies, that immediately antiquates riding a bike for short distances. The main problem is that it's too good, and people with poor balance, poor judgement, or bad luck, have been in accidents which ruined it for everyone else.

I could see scooters completely wiping out local ride-share, taxi, and bicycle shares in many places.

But again, people have been injured and because of that, along with the excessive inventory that has littered some areas, cities are cracking down and writing new regulation to curb their use. In the short term they will win and we might not enjoy their full potential for awhile.

It's been a while since I hit a buzz word bingo while browsing a HN comment thread.

I've got "disruptive," "obvious," the free space in the middle, "synergy" (which I'm counting combination of technologies for), and "ride-share".

On paper Singapore, should have been the perfect market for eScooters. A central, urban, well-developed infrastructure, low crime, stable warm weather without seasons, you name it. Starting December PMD's were banned.

Mostly because people behaving like idiots riding scooters on the sidewalks leading to at least two serious accidents per day. Bicycles are still allowed.

Lessons learned : The urban infrastructure needs to have space for the eScooters to co-exist with other participants (cars and pedestrians alike)

Like three quarters of American men, I'm overweight. I'd never use an electric scooter because the absolute last thing I need in my life is an excuse to walk less. I'd wager at least a significant portion of that three quarters probably have thoughts similar to mine. Of the rest, most probably drive instead (which for the particularly obese, is probably a lot more comfortable than a scoooter.)

I see a ton more scooters on the sidewalk than I see people riding them. From my perspective these scooter companies have greatly overestimated the demand.

Have you ever used one? I get what you're saying, but as an example: my girlfriend and I have on multiple occasions, in multiple cities, used scooters to explore local geographic regions that would otherwise not have been possible in the same time constraint. We would ride across town, then get off and walk around for a bit until we decided to hop back on and ride way across town to another place and do the same thing. So it is possible to still get the exercise etc, with the benefit of being able to cover more turf than possible strictly through walking. Of course you could do the same thing with a bike, but it's more cumbersome and less agile imo.

Yeah, I actually had never seriously considered riding one, and thought it was a bit silly, then a friend just randomly suggested going for a ride after we had caught up one time. It's actually really, really fun and pretty great for getting around urban areas.

That said, I'm not sure how sustainable their business model will be because riding Lime and Neuron (a Singaporean competitor that we have operating in some Australian cities) is probably leaning me more towards wanting to get my own e-scooter than regularly hiring theirs...

Depending where in the world you are, these scooters are as expensive as Uber for the same distance (in Europe). But you cannot carry a suitcase, it is not safe, you get wet when it rains, etc.

I get that it feels like a 2-dollar-Harley, and once parents realize that their kids are both at risk AND it costs as much as an Uber, I expect loses to grow.

Unless something drastic happens and the cost drops dramatically.

For me when rarely riding a scooter (in Berlin) it is always frustrating that I am (at capped 20km/h) a bit slower than the flow of numerous bicicles. This also understandably increases frustration for the cyclists (I feel the same when usually taking a bike to work). This alone rules out taking a scooter over a bike whenever possible.

At the beginning VCs love to see the revenue increase and when you are dealing with companies like this you can grow revenue rapidly by moving into new markets. And it requires a tremendous amount of capital to do so, because they are purchasing and servicing the scooters.

There's always the promise of we will get to free cash flow positive and net profitability in the future to stave off concerns immediately especially when revenue growth is high.

The problem for Lime and other scooter companies is that they grossly underestimated the amount of issues they would run into from operating and servicing them. So they began to see those ill effects in the first 12 months of bringing them on to the streets.

Of course massive revenue growth and promises to fix that allows new investors to plow money in, but now as the scooters become ubiquitous in many large metro areas, the revenue growth is harder to get and an increase in competition also slows down revenue growth.

With growth slowing, now they need to immediately focus on improving their unit economics where ever possible. Getting out of failed cities, reducing staff where they over hired planning for the future. Also at a company of their size firing 100 people is the equivalent of getting rid of poor performers and not that big of an issue.

This is all done to show how they can be unit economic profitable in a single large city, and then use that combined with revenue growth to raise a new round.

But if you look at the landscape of Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Postmates, Instacart, everyone is no where close to profitable, so definitely that story arc of continuing to grow without profitability is taking a large hit. More layoffs will definitely follow across the board in this sector.

> In terms of any environmental benefit, I highly suspect more gasoline is being consumed to collect and distribute scooters than the offset of a few last mile transports.

I agree, however, it's obscured by an Uber-style gig: a lot of these startups incentivize random people to drive around, collect & charge their scooters. That allows them to set the financial cost of charging and ignore the underlying environmental cost.

I suspect it's one way they hide the maintenance costs while pretending to contribute to the "gig economy".

> Why did the VCs value these as billion dollar companies? Desperation?


2. Easy Access to Capital in last decade

3. Winner takes it all culture, which causes more FOMO

But then as a VC you also have to bet future with incomplete set of data... which is not truly a science... though there are some Midas in VC... reality/statistics is only 3-5% of all investment will hit home run, 5-15% will do average and other will just fail... we would not have many of the company/services around if someone would not have taken those bets (from UBER to AirBnB and others...)

E-scooters are a very tempting business because the napkin math is very tempting.

In my neck of woods escooter rentals are 10+ Euros an hour.

So 500 Euros for scooter / 10 => 50 hours to break even

Then you say okay maybe only 1 percent utilization => 5000 hours which is still ~6 months (we are talking napkin math).

This makes for a great elevator pitch.

Only later do you start worrying about vandalism, logistics/costs of gathering scooters every night etc.

>Why did the VCs value these as billion dollar companies? Desperation?

Because VCs get paid from selling the shares to the public. So as long as a general unsophisticated investor is expected to buy in, it's a good deal for a VC, even if the underlying business model is laughable.

While never having been on one due to no helmets being provided, in Denver and in Dallas and in Austin they arguably revolutionized the city core and how younger people get around. For better and worse.

And while not fully diligent on this, isn't Uber still not profitable on a unit economic basis? And they are mature and public. Perhaps that statement isn't true but it provides one justification for investing in scooters

My impression in Austin is that it peaked last year. Not to say they aren't still common.

To be honest I think there's a possible real business here, but maybe only for one or two companies, and only in cities where they achieve a critical mass. The 4am collecting of abandoned scooters, becomes much more efficient if it's only one company per town, and they are commonly used such that there is much less distance between scooters of a given company.

I suppose that, like for every 1000 1999 e-business there was only one Amazon, the VC's are thinking there will be one or two survivors here who will eventually do well.

You are correct about Uber not being profitable. They’re burning cash quickly. And if you look at market performance, they’re not where they expected to be. Furthermore, they’re fighting things like employee unionization (See California) which will increase their cost.

And Uber is fundamentally different. It’s not seasonal, and the costs fall mainly on drivers rather than the company.

Investors are hopeful on Uber, but I bet if a scooter company tried to go public right now, it would get eaten alive.

> isn't Uber still not profitable on a unit economic basis?

Uber still has money to burn and is trying to grow even more. They could likely be profitable if they wanted, pretty quickly, by limiting spending/expansion.

VCs also get paid by getting other VCs to evaluate their companies as more valuable in a sort of Ponzi scheme:


Most companies only go public when they are profitable.

From what I've read, the main driver of profitability is longevity of the scooters, and they've already made a lot of progress extending that.

> In terms of any environmental benefit, I highly suspect more gasoline is being consumed to collect and distribute scooters than the offset of a few last mile transports.

The report I read stated that if longevity could be extended (which is already being worked on, per above), scooters would be net-negative CO2 wise. However right now, they are net-positive. You are correct that moving the scooters around incurs a carbon hit, but also power generation is dirty, as is producing a scooter that only last for a few months.

In Wellington, New Zealand Uber (Jump) replaced their entire scooter fleet a few weeks ago after just six months of operation, their main competitor (Flamingo) will probably have to do the same as their scooters now look worn and tired vs the Jump ones. Lime has been booted out of a couple of markets locally as they had safety issues, all those scooters are probably in a land fill somewhere.

I rode Lime-branded scooters in my "global South" town for a couple of weeks. It was a really expensive proposition and I was basically paying for the thrill. But the city (probably wisely) banned them from sidewalks -- when the whole point was to replace walking, not renting a highly vulnerable motorcycle substitute to ride with the cars in the street.

To answer your question: high prices/margins.

It's a nice better experience in dedicated bike lanes.

I think e-bikes in certain markets will be profitable as a division of bigger organizations like Uber/Lyft. For example I spent $6 on two JUMP bike rentals last night to get to and from a Meetup. It was convenient and the bikes did the job handily. As a company that only does the bike share, I don't think they will be able to compete with the likes of Uber/Lyft etc.

I used to be bullish on ebikes for commuting, until I started buying secondhand ones barely a few months old on craigslist at steep discounts for my own family.

In every case, the owner had a change of heart and switched to a scooter. Why? Because the ebike is huge and heavy, needs dedicated locking, parking etc. Often there isn't room for it on the bus/train. They all found the scooter way better for last mile style commutes.

Scooters are a fraction of the cost, capable of similar speed and range with less user effort and have virtually no maintenance. You can carry them easily into an office, and they weigh a fraction of a typical ebike. They fit much more easily into trains and buses. Long term, I think last mile commuting will surely be won by a scooter style machine.

I still think ebikes have a huge role to play in future of transport, but I don't think it will be last mile commutes as much as some expect.

Unfortunately scooters are more dangerous, the little wheels and high center of gravity means eating concrete is more likely than a bike.

there are some scooters you can buy that go way too fast, but the ones you can rent usually max out around 15mph, and that's only on a warm day with a full charge. it's definitely less stable than a bike, but every time I've hit a pothole I've just ended up awkwardly running alongside the scooter for a few steps. I'm not quite sure what people are doing that leads them to eat concrete. I've certainly never seen it happen in my city, even with squads of drunk college students riding them on the weekends.

Every once in a while a rock runs in front of your wheel. Also many folks ride on the sidewalk which are uneven here.

Where are you located? I just wonder if this is because the enviroment isn't firendly to normal bikes either. Where I live I don't have any issues to park a bike. And I would never take it on a bus/train because there is no such thing as last mile when biking, especially ebiking.

Usually city buses have bike racks on front. You're not meant to bring the bike onto the bus.

Ebikes are usually too heavy for those bike racks.

For me the solution here is a folding e-bike, of which there are many.

Ironically the ones I purchased are all folding models. In some ways the folding models are the worst weight wise, the extra hardware needed to strengthen the frame makes them incredibly heavy. I own a very nice Tern Vektron, one of the higher end folding electric bikes, and I've folded it once, it's just way to heavy for folding and carrying to be practical. I'd sooner walk than try and move it around a busy train, for example. The fold is really only useful for storage at home.

Lyft agrees. They bought Motivate, who run the bike share systems in NYC and Minneapolis among others.

Minneapolis's had been a local non-profit that decided they needed to move from only docked bikes to dockless and couldn't do it as an independent group.

I've read that next season in Minneapolis the dockless bikes won't be back, and instead they will massively expand e-bikes, which were only available in a few locations this past season.

>I suspect the cost to the consumer would have to double for it to maintain any profitability, and the demand already sucks.

I suspect if you price in other externalities it would be even worse. Those things are flimsy trash that are meant to be utterly disposable. You can barely service or replace something as simple as a broken wheel. If these things ever did actually take off it would have been an ecological catastrophe. For all the waste generated by things like Keuregs, at least they're not going to leach heavy metals into the landfills.

In my city (Zurich) it already feels like an environmental disaster, with 5 or 6 scooter companies jumping into the market, there's probably more scooters on offer than there is demand.

There is no population that is better serviced by scooters than bicycles and better public transit

I think it can be in some places. For example Lisbon, Portugal has decent weather all-year (not too cold, not snowy nor very rainy), lots of tourists, low labour costs; plus a fairly clean electricity supply. The only drawback is the lack of separated lanes, but most cities are working on improving that.

It's probably more niche than these companies hoped for, but I think a profitable business can be made from it.

I think it's a profitable market if you survive the competition. You build the moat by petitioning the government to force licensing (like docked bikes do) and then enjoy the monopoly pricing. There's a natural advantage to being the same guy serving lots of markets so then you're fine.

Whatever happens electric scooters are here to stay. They will be the future of urban last mile transportation.

> Does anyone actually think this is a profitable market?

Can a eScooter business be run in a profitable way? I think yes.

Are these companies going to ever make back money for their investors? Probably not.

> Electric scooters are expensive, repair and charging is expensive

The retail price for these Scooters is $400-800, depending on the exact hardware. I assume these companies are not paying retail prices but have a sweet deal with some Chinese manufacturer, maybe paying $500-ish for a mid-tier model. Really not that expensive.

In Europe most firms are charging 1 Euro to start the eScooter and then additional 15ct per minute. In my opinion this is more than enough to make a decent profit. There are profitable car sharing companies here that let you rent a car for effectively 25-35cents per hour - that is including gas. So somehow, these car sharing companies that have huge upfront costs for purchasing the cars (30-40x more than a eScooter), high maintenance costs, annual registration fees, insurance costs etc. are turning a profit despite charing only a few cents more than the eScooter companies.

Your explanation is exactly why environmentalism is losing ground in the public zeitgeist outside of sensational headlines. People thought they would be profitable because large swathes of people liked them. The cities where they've lost ground have passed laws restricting them but the public votes along party lines so no politician of significance cares about the public reaction. The rest of your comment is essentially an appeal to the idea that cities can't have nice things unless they match your standard for environmrntal friendliness. The products were widely used before they were restricted, the public votes with their wallets, entrenched interests found a way around that vote. The cost to the consumer now is that they're basically useless because entitled people like yourself felt that the focus of a city shouldn't be facilitating the things that its people enjoy.

I think it’s a great business. They are not expensive. There are no employees except for depot repair and customer service call center. Repair can be handled by driving with a van after dark and collecting all sick units. Easy for a small team. It can be a Chrysler Hybrid minivan if you want to be environmentally conscious. Fuel consumption is a non-factor if done overnight without traffic. Solar can charge the batteries, but so can random people, which is how it is done.

They are not cheap to ride. Riders are paying $20/hr. I paid a few times and found it convenient compared to catching an Uber. Unit cost is less than $1000. You are looking at a month of use before the thing becomes profitable. At their volume, the cost is likely far less.

Micromobility like scooters are a "first look" experience. The use case is getting from point A to point B: who is first in line in terms of showing the user options to do that?

The first app to be checked for transportation options to point B has a tremendously valuable asset -- it's not just the scooter, but the fact that it's first in line for the demand.

Useful in a world where ridesharing companies and others are duking it out over users. Less so after the dust has settled.

It is a solely hipster thingy of bay area. The alternative to scooter is walking little more. If the range of your feet is say half a mile (you are willing to walk half a mile after getting out of train say) then scooter probably makes it 1 mile but adds a lot of other variable to it such as unreliability, availability, availability to return etc.

I will happily short position in any of these scooter companies meant for consumers.

.... actually for a more global perspective, they have been operating in New Zealand. Visiting Christchurch which is a fairly compact flat small city Lime's were the best thing ever to get around on. Living in Auckland, I haven't touched one - hilly, not enough coverage, too large a distance. So they do have their place outside of the hipster bay community :)

I've used them a ton when downtown (and even in North Shore).

Shame there's nowhere close enough of bike paths for stuff like this. Really disappointing.

Plus council took their licence away and gave to local company. That's like a pure corruption, nepotism or protectionism.

The amount of smear articles on NZHerald about Lime was disgusting too. It's either an by delusionally old farts or again - corruption.

I wonder if the benefit is to shop owners in the area where scooters work. My reasoning: Scooters are a replacement for walking. Shop owners depend on foot traffic. If you can generate foot traffic by reducing the time cost, you can increase shop visits.

I do recognize a number of holes in this logic, for instance: is scooter traffic comparable to foot traffic?

For one thing, stopping at a shop when you're on foot is free, but if you want to get back to scooting, you can only park the scooter but not end the rental (otherwise someone else might rent that scooter while you're in the shop), but (AFAIK) Lime, etc, will charge you money as long as the scooter is still being rented out to you.

The environmental benefit would ultimately be in reducing car trips and allowing cities to once more be built human scale, enabled by scooter-transit-scooter trips (scooters solve the last mile problem). It would be a laudable thing for governments to support but instead the response has been deep hostility.

Too much money, chasing not enough alpha.

I use Lime ebikes rather than scooters in London and they get quite a lot of money off me - a short trip (5mins) is about £1.50 which means if you pop to a shop and back then somewhere else and back that's £6. You don't need so many of those a day to make a profit.

> Does anyone actually think this is a profitable market?

I recall a study in Paris last year (iirc) in which they concluded that the useful life of these scooters was shorter than their individual rental break even points...

They saw what happened with bike share.

The exit strategy was always: get acquired by Ford, GM, or another major auto manufacturer who wants the ad space. OR look to companies with massive ad spend: Citibank, Wells Fargo, BNP Paribas, Oracle, etc. that would love to have ads in places where ads aren’t allowed (eg. parks) through this loophole.

The scooters are just branded litter, which is a huge market. As long as they can claim it serves some other purpose, it’s legal. You could start dumping branded water fountains all over cities saying it has something to do with hydration and it would be allowed as long as there was an app that allowed you to donate in bitcoin.

I don't think anybody thought it was a guaranteed win, but it was cheap enough to enter that a bunch of VCs went in for it.

They also share the market with bike rental.

> Electric scooters are expensive, repair and charging is expensive

Citation needed, at least to convince me. I think they could significantly bring down the cost at scale (production/maintenance wise at least).

Here are some estimates:


These scooters are already at a fairly decent economy of production. Chinese factories are producing these in the thousands and companies are buying wholesale.

The core technology (batteries especially) is expensive, full stop. I’m curious where you think they could save money in larger scales? That’s not even to mention to get larger scale, they need more consumer adoption. I don’t have reliable data for this, but anecdotally I’ll say consumer interest is stagnant, and that’s already at unprofitable/heavily incentivized margins.

>Citation needed

Here's one supporting piece of evidence:

>Lime shuts in 12 markets, lays off around 100

They cost $300. Maybe bird gets them for $200. Even if you cut the cost down to $100, that's still $100 a month per scooter to run the network.


This whole model is incredibly, impossibly, flawed.

9/10 times, my net displacement for the day is 0. If my net displacement is zero, I would prefer to own the medium I'm using to move. Bike, car, scooter etc. Only exception is stuff with really high capital costs, like planes and trains, in which case I pay a small fee to avoid owning a railway or airline.

For scooters, there are no high capitals costs; the cost of a scooter is laughably low. It's sold as a quicker-than-walking, less-hassle-than-a-car last mile solution, but again, 9/10 of my trips are 0 displacement, so, why not just buy the scooter outright? Cheaper, safer, faster (I know where it is, no need to walk to it, etc).

They only way Lime, Bird etc survive is by legislation. Lobby for scooter licensure, buy up all the licenses, and become the taxi industry (except for scooters, and you have to drive!)

What an ironic loop.

At this point, the only reason to fund these guys is FOMO.

The whole model of needing to own your own transportation devices is flawed.

9/10 times, I'm moving from one location with many other people in it to another location with many other people. I would prefer not needing to own any medium in order to move between them, but instead be able to use a public service to do so. Bus, tram, metro, citybike, scooter. I'd really rather not own stuff with really high capital costs, like cars.

At this point, the only reason to own anything more expensive than a bike is bad city planning and infrastructure.

And, you know, basic financial planning... For the vast majority of people, renting basic unsubsidized transit methods on a daily basis costs far more than owning and operating your own. Good for you if your financial situation allows you to ignore that fact, but it’s rather yuppy bubble thinking to assume that applies to everyone.

Aren't you ignoring the hundreds of billions in public subsidies that your "basic unsubsidized transit methods" enjoy? Cars are expensive and our emphasis on subsidizing car travel at the federal, state, county and city level is an enormous regressive tax on the poorest members of our society for whom $1000 or $5000 is an impossible amount of money.

Even if you make an apples to apples comparison (cost of renting a scooter vs cost of buying one outright), renting doesn't really make sense if it's something you want to use regularly.

For a 10 minute commute daily commute, the break even point for buying a scooter vs renting one comes in less than 60 days.

This s only true if you are buying a good, reliable scooter, which requires a high up-front cost that many people can't afford.

Look up the boots theory of sociological unfairness. You're able to save money this way because you can afford something sturdy and reliable, whereas poor folks, if they buy something, buy something that is cheap and will break quickly. They'll need to do this over and over again, which in the end causes them to spend considerably more money than you.

Rental scooters (and bikes and e-bikes) may feel like they're more expensive in the end, but they're generally much cheaper, when you consider repairs or replacement, and especially when you consider theft (which will be covered by your insurance, but poor folks don't have that).

Also, most scooter/bike rental companies have outreach programs for poor communities, which drastically lower the cost, or provide service for free.

Basic financial planning would indicate that owning a money losing asset (i.e. car) is not a good idea.

I can assure you I've spent far less not owning a car, even with every Uber ride, car rental, scooter rental, transit, and taxi ride.

No, basic financial planning would take into account both sides of the equation. I can own a money losing asset as long as it is costing me (including depreciation) less than what an alternative service would cost. Uber will never work out unless you drive very infrequently or live somewhere like New York where the total cost of vehicle ownership is prohibitive.

Additionally, depreciation is not linear. I drive an older vehicle, it has already mostly depreciated as far as it will go.

> Basic financial planning would indicate that owning a money losing asset (i.e. car) is not a good idea.

Only if you have an alternate way to get to work like good public transportation. Otherwise buying a depreciating asset like a car is the only way to survive in many places. It's like paying rent. Perhaps not ideal, but it is a practical reality for many.

every day I drive ~20 miles to work. for car ownership to be economic, the cost per trip just has to be less than uber or the difference in pay between my software gig and a job I could walk to.

Ah, but public transit is inherently the slowest option. I have no desire to make 10 stops before I get where I'm going. I also have zero desire to rent my modes, as that encourages literally rent seeking behavior.

Either we need to figure out how to drop off and pickup passengers at speed, or penalize individualized transport that is space inefficient (like cars). Good luck pursuing the latter in the US; punitive measure seem to work elsewhere.

I think the way forward is compact private transport, like bikes, scooters, walking, etc, augmented by a robust mass public transit. Unfortunately, that mix implies a expensive re-configuring of most American cities.

> Ah, but public transit is inherently the slowest option.

This isn't true if you are in a dense city with good public transit. This is currently mid day (3 PM), and it's about 30% faster (21 minutes vs 29 minutes) to go from my current location in Manhattan to a bar I enjoy hanging out in Brooklyn via public transit than car, according to Google Maps. It would be even better around rush hour.

In the same way it isn't true that healthcare in the US isn't unaffordable as long as you're a successful businessman with lots of savings. Maybe technically correct, but useless to most people.

There are maybe 2 or 3 cities in the entire United States that are dense enough with good enough public transportation. The vast majority of the population cannot relate.

GP is refuting the idea that public transit is inherently the slowest mode of transportation by providing an instructive counter-example. If the vast majority of the population cannot relate, that's a product of policy choices that favor sparse development in most of the country.

Not true at 10pm but good on your for getting a 3pm drink going.

New York City is perhaps the only major city in the US where public transit is indeed faster than individual modes transportation (scooter, car, bike, whatever).

This all is heavily dependent on how you align your day to day life. If you set up your work and living situation along the LA Subway or BART or Seattle's Link Light Rail then you'll always be able to get there faster using those services. Even in NYC you can end up in places that are a bit of transit wastelands that take longer to get to than by car.

>> Ah, but public transit is inherently the slowest option.

I don't see how it is 'inherently' the slowest, especially given the traffic patterns that inherently result from private transit options.

>> I have no desire to make 10 stops before I get where I'm going.

The point of public transit in the form of e-scooters and e-bikes is to make your door-to-door commute one trip.

>> I also have zero desire to rent my modes, as that encourages literally rent seeking behavior.

Most people just care about convenience and price. Shared mobility options like e-bikes and e-scooters check both boxes if they can reach scale.

I work 4.5 miles from my apartment in Atlanta. I can either spend 40 minutes in traffic getting home every day, or I can spend an equivalent amount of time on a train, and the a bus ride or walking.

In a lot of cities, driving is not faster. It's just sometimes the only option.

So how frequently does the train run? If it runs every hour that means on average there is a half hour wait for the train--in addition to the 40 minutes for the trip. Conversely the car is instantly available.

> public transit is inherently the slowest option

This is certainly true where I live -- public transit is the slowest by a large margin. Driving is generally the next slowest, depending on the exact trip. Bicycling tends to be the quickest.

Scooter is a horrible horrible mean of transporation for the mass.

I lives in Vietnam, where scooters are dominant. It is even less compact than car on the road.

Almost everyone means an electric kick scooter, not the vehicles in Vietnam - those are motor scooters.

Which I also find a weird language abuse. The original meaning of "scooter" is the vehicle in Vietnam. Why did we suddenly agree to call those "kick scooters" as "scooters".

This is even more confusing for companies like "scoot" that rent both "scooters" and "kick scooters"

No. The original meaning is actually a boat for use on ice and water, in 1903.

Then in 1917 it was used to refer to the children's toy.

Source: printed OED.

They have called these things scooters for over twenty years at this point.

For a single person - probably, but most people have kids. It’s much more complicated to use public transport with small kids, they require a lot of stuff to be carried around for them

I see loads of mothers with small children on the underground and buses in Nürnberg if I’m traveling outside of rush hour. Having observed my German and American sisters-in-law, it comes down to what you think the kid really needs.

The German sister-in-law can get everything into a backpack and midsized rolling suitcase to bring my niece along for the train ride to her parents at the other end of Germany.

The American sister-in-law traded in her Tahoe for a Suburban when my nephew was born and manages to fill the cargo compartment for a week at her parents, where she still has her own room.

> The whole model of needing to own your own transportation devices is flawed.

99% of all our family journeys begin and end at our home. Happily we own two (ICE) vehicles, they're sitting outside the house right now ready to be used tomorrow.

(As an aside) I've just booked a flight for Sunday (o/w flight $46 including all taxes and fees). I'm flying the best part of 600mi, so I've booked a rental car at the destination airport. It's going to cost me $72 for three days rental, including all taxes and fees.

None of this stuff is new...

I'm not sure how this refutes the idea that you don't need to own a car in a well-designed city

Do any of these "well-designed cities" have reasonable housing costs?

Don't need, but it's still damn handy. And a "well-designed city" is usually based on assumption that all people are +/- identical. Well, guess what, different people have different preferences...

Source: european

Sure, but also incredibly dangerous, costly, polluting and selfish.

Human life in general causes danger, costs, polluting and is selfish.

Meanwhile I find "well designed city" environment bad to my mental health. Who (or what?) is it "well designed" for?

Well your finding is wrong. Well designed cities, which are dense and encourage walking, have lots of small businesses along the sidewalk etc., lead to lower occurrence of loneliness and depression (vs. suburban areas).

Alright, let's say my personal experience is wrong. I guess I'm not a well-designed human. Is it a truly good design if people have to be designed for it?

Moving away from downtown to outskirts worked pretty well to my mental health.

Obviously different people have different needs. And even same human being have different needs in different stages of his life. But I find it hard to call something "well designed" if it works only for some people in some walks of life.

How many externalities are you offloading onto society with the choices you just described?

How many externalities would be required to make a more unified, bulk transport system work effectively? How much would have to be completely torn down and reconstructed? How could the 'last leg' problem be feasibly solved? This ain't a one-way question, and sometimes status quo has the simple benefit of causing minimal externalities to sustain.

That works for mass transport like bus, tram, metro. For individual transport, it doesn't make much sense, any more than it would make sense to rent a car 24/7/365.

It would work better for individual transport if there was balanced multidirectional flow around the clock. Instead we have mostly-unidirectional flow centered around narrow times of day.

>9/10 times, my net displacement for the day is 0. If my net displacement is zero, I would prefer to own the medium I'm using to move.

I don't. 9/10 times, despite zero net displacement my commutes are asymmetrical — on my way there I'm in a rush, but on the way back I'm not. So I'll often take a high cost, high speed option like a scooter towards a destination, then take a more leisurely, generally free option like walking or transit back home. As a bonus, I never have to deal with storing my vehicle while I'm at my destination, or with taking it with me if I add an intermediate stop nearby before returning home.

Like car services, scooters are a great complement to commuting on public transit. Most of the time, when you commute on public transit, you don't need another vehicle. But things come up unpredictably that require you to run a quick errand or go somewhere outside walking distance to meet friends.

When I ask people if they would commute to work on public transit, the biggest thing they worry about is, "What if I have to ____?" They don't like the thought of being useless when their partner asks them to run an errand, or left out when their friends plan something after work. Even if 95% of their workdays would be nothing but catching the bus or train downtown, working and patronizing businesses in a small walkable area, and then taking the bus or train home again, and even if it's significantly less burdensome than driving, a lot of people will still drive because they can't give up the feeling of being able to deal with contingencies. Rental and on-demand transportation options address that without forcing people to keep their own vehicle on hand every day even though they rarely need it.

I think this is an important factor for making public transit attractive to people who are accustomed to the advantages of driving everywhere. Right now, car-based services like Uber and Lyft are sufficient for that, but as city centers back away from the massive accommodations they've made for car traffic, bikes and scooters will become more important.

This is a bit like saying hotels are obsolete because most of the time you live in the same place and apartments make more sense.

The value proposition of a scooter service is ad hoc last mile transport where you don’t have to have brought the scooter with you to use it.

There may still be issues with the model. It might be that isn’t a demand profile that has the right scale to support much of a business (but could be useful for municipalities to provide, like some do with bikeshares). And I find rideshares are price competitive for last mile stuff (though it’s well known that’s only because ride costs are subsidized with investor cash, so maybe all scooter shares have to do to find their market niche is hold out til that stops). Or maybe most people feel safer with other forms of transport.

But the basic “summon something better than walking without having to carry it with you” idea does make some fundamental sense.

I suppose, but any isomorphism has its limits.

For me, a scooter is much more affordable than say, a hotel. I am willing to pay a small premium in rent over buying the hotel for the convenience and flexibility of not having to own a hotel.

I am fortunate enough that there's no way a lime makes any sort of financial sense for commuting last mile in a place I live. I can buy a scooter for $500; I will break even on Lime/Bird in less than 3 months. For tourists, great, for denizens, not so much.

The simple fact is, unless you want to pay for the luxury of having to walk to a scooter you pilot yourself, owning your own things has always made more sense. The ability to semi-summon an object on command is great when you need, and can afford, the option. However, we should be optimizing infrastructure for everyone, not just those who can pay for it.

transport != commute

Scooter shares may indeed not make much sense for commutes. That's the sort of predictable and regular need that it makes sense to optimize for time or money or both, as you've said. But then again, rideshares are rarely going to help with such optimization (probably true as long as funding a driver is part the whole thing). Personal vehicles, or public transport, or even workplace carpools make much more sense there. And yet rideshares do well enough because it turns out there's a whole class of ad hoc transport needs where summoning a ride on demand is awfully convenient.

Acquiring a scooter on demand has the same possibilities, especially if it can be economically competitive.

Are you normally able to take your scooter into public transit?

If nobody ever stole anything, I'd wholeheartedly support that. In fact, I'm willing to shell out 5 times the regular cost for a bike that would never ever be stolen wherever I leave it.

Finding places to park and lock and worry about it not getting stolen is just way too much.

Relevant: I've owned 4 $1000+ bike over the past 10 years, one of which is stolen right outside home, another is almost stolen (moved then found after a frantic search).

Thankfully no one ever steals cars.

Cars are significantly harder to steal.

cars are stolen much less frequently than bikes. if your car does get stolen, you're pretty likely to get it back, although you may have to pay for some repairs. if your bike gets stolen, you'll probably never see it again.

I was in Lisbon for Web Summit and the scooter on the streets was a great way to get around. So for none locals it's definitely a benefit for short trips and for the fun that it brings doing it in a group of people.

However, doing it on a day to day basis you can quickly spend more in a couple of months then just buying a scooter. The only benefit is not having to lug it with you, but not sure if that offsets the higher costs of non-ownership.

At least in SF, you would take your own scooter to the office in the morning, and walk back in the evening. Because your scooter got stolen, and the police don't really bother chasing down a $300 item.

I totally agree with you, but just to play devil's advocate... you can't have, that which you don't own, stolen. Which can be pretty valuable.

However, this doesn't help much with the larger model. Cars have insurance for example, and that more or less works out, right?

Net displacement doesn't matter. Convenience and features do.

We have to fully admit that, all else equal, being responsible for the security and maintenance of a scooter is worse than offloading that to Lime/Lyft/Bird.

The only reason I bought a scooter is because I wanted to go over 30mph with suspension (i.e. new features). I use mine for joyriding and secure it in my apartment.

Why would anyone want to own a car? You have to park it, both at your house and at your destination, you have to do maintenance on it, yada yada. What a waste of time and space.

To get from point A to point B without walking half a mile and waiting 10 minutes for a bus to go a quarter the speed to a stop half a mile from your destination. I'm sure a lot of people want a car so they don't have to expose their groceries or small children to the disgusting mess that is public transportation in the vast majority of (American) cities.

The comment I was responding to was saying everyone wants to own their method of transportation. I'm not asking why you would want to drive - I'm asking why you would choose to own a car if there was an alternate world where all the other cars in the city were available to use on demand.

> I'm asking why you would choose to own a car if there was an alternate world where all the other cars in the city were available to use on demand.

there are a lot of reasons, but here are the two big ones. unlike any rental car I've seen at an avis lot, my car is actually fun to drive. you'll never see a car with a manual transmission for rent in america, unless you go on turo. second, I take much better care of my car than most people. after seeing how people treat vehicles they actually own, I don't want to rent a vehicle that hasn't been thoroughly cleaned and inspected after the previous driver.

Availability. I probably want to use a car the same time as everyone else. Price. If there's enough cars to satisfy demand at all times, the capital costs of the network are high which means rates are high.

Basically, a large operation could have economies of scale (in house mechanics, only two models of car to choose from, own the fuel stations...) but the utilization of the vehicles probably would not change dramatically from the utilization of the private "fleet" we have today.

I mean, if they were free, I see your point. But they can't be, which implies paying someone else to do the maintenance, and distribution, plus a fee on top of that for their time. You can scale it any which way (or dodge the second bit and call them independent contractors), but it doesn't change the unit economics nearly enough imo.

Well, the cost can be laughably low for some; but not for all of us in the cities these services exist.

Last year I moved to a small city in Northern California with no Uber/Lyft, & I don't own a car because of money shortage, I had a bike from Walmart for $150 which was stolen before I moved from Bay Area. I looked at some of the scooters equivalent to Bird or Lime ones, starting from $800 upwards.

I found a good one from Walmart Thanksgiving sale for $250; but it was not good enough for that money; & I returned it & returned to walking around. So, I would live Bird or Lime coming here; & no, the cost is not low enough for all of us.

Err, obviously. They're targeting the 1/10 times where you want to make a trip and don't have a vehicle with you.

Taxis exist despite most people owning a car.

If I commute between two well-known locations on a daily basis (for example from home to work) I definitely want to own my scooter, or figure out a stable and cheap way to do this commute.

The use-case for scooter rentals is different though. I use them sometimes when I need to go to a different unknown place. A bar for example, where it would be inconvenient to bring my own transportation and deal with parking

But it’s not continuous net displacement. I go to a place, stay there for some time, go to another place etc until I eventually get home. Most of those places I go to don’t have a good place to park my bike / ebike/ scooter (but most do have nice places to park my car).

I am always fairly surprised at the gross simplification done in HN discussions.

Why build another search engine people? Alta Vista etc. have already solved the problem.

Not to say that ideas don't fail, but don't count the chickens before they have hatched and there are a few approaches still left to try.

I agree it’s a dumb business but the use case makes sense.

Storing things that are smaller than cars is really tough, and scaling a business like this nationally is fairly capital and operationally expensive.

If the scooters were street legal, this would be a great localized business.

Excellent post. This was obvious from the beginning and is causing a rerating of the vcs who invested in these economically and technically checkered deals.[1]

[1] https://medium.com/craft-ventures/the-other-electric-vehicle...

What does displacement mean here?

How far the destination of his final trip of the day is from the start of his first trip of the day.

Sorry, I'm slow I still don't get it. Zero displacement then means he's doing straight round-trips where he's going back to where he started? If so, why does that matter? I'm missing something basic here.

I believe that what he's getting at is that most people are going to start out from home, travel to work, and end the day traveling back home. There may be stops during that for shopping, or round trips from and back to work for things like lunch. But at a high level it is "go out from home in the morning, come back home in the evening, and then do the whole thing again the next day".

With this pattern, you want some form of transit that will reliably be there for you in the morning, every morning.

Owning your own car, motorcycle, bike, or scooter works for that. It's yours so it will be there for you whenever you want.

Public transit can also work, if there are stops or stations near enough to your home and work and it operates on a schedule that fits yours.

His point is that transportation services like Lime, where you pick up scooters from whatever semi-random place the last user left it and you are supposed to stay within some specified area don't work well for the home => office => home cycle. There may not be a scooter near your home in the morning, even if you happened to have left one there the night before. For a lot of people, home will also be outside the service area, so taking one home would incur penalties.

But if you have you own car, motorcycle, bike, or scooter, and you have to use that to go to work, then using that for all your other transportation while in the city is probably going to make more sense than renting a Lime scooter.

I think he's being a little too pessimistic about the market for something like Lime. I've worked at places where I've driven my own car in, but would have been happy to have something like Lime while at the office for things like going out for lunch, because lunchtime traffic was pretty bad around the office but there weren't any good lunch places in easy walking distance.

Oh I see. Thanks so much for the thorough reply.

strictly speaking, displacement is a vector quantity, as opposed to distance, which is scalar. if you drive a mile from your house then turn around and go straight back, you've traveled a distance of two miles but your displacement is zero.

Thank you

Lime has the worst bikes on the planet - they are complete garbage compared to the Uber/JUMP bikes (and probably others). The Lime bikes seemed to constantly be falling apart and were actually pretty terrifying to ride. On the other hand, the JUMP bikes feel very robust and I feel safe riding them. I would rather walk half a mile to find a JUMP bike than ride a Lime bike. No wonder they are failing.

Source: Rode both Lime and Uber JUMP bikes in Seattle (rode a JUMP bike twice last night)

Same story with their scooters IMO. I would rather walk a block or two and find a Bird than settle for a Lime. On at least one occassion my options were Grab a Lime or walk 10 blocks; I walked.

Though, I feel like the reasoning is opposite for the scooters; they're absolutely huge vehicles that were clearly built to last in the harsh environments they're deployed in, and in doing so gained a ton of weight and volume. They're slow. The brakes are often so strong that they could cause riders to loose balance from the negative acceleration. They manuver so poorly that I feel unsafe while riding them. The big reason why I love the gen-1 Bird scooters, as unreliable as they are, is because they're so damn nimble, I have zero issues taking super-tight turns and weaves, and often that's necessary in urban environments just to protect yourself from the hazards of broken roads or cars. The newest gen Bird scooters strike a decent balance between being lightweight, fast, and (I assume) durable to the extreme environment.

I have the opposite experience with the Lime scooters; they're my go-to. I've had a few duds, and of course anything on the street is subject to abuse and vandalism, but it's nice that outside of battery and motor issues, a five second inspection will give you a reliable indicator of how it will ride. All the electronic brakes I tried from any company make a very dangerous assumption that stopping time and distance don't matter as long as you come to a stop gently, so I stopped using scooters without mechanical brakes. The number one thing I appreciate about Lime is that they have gone entirely to mechanical brakes, atl least in my market. Bird scooters are okay, too, but I've relegated them to second choice after having some bad experiences with their speed regulators kicking in really hard (similar to the braking experience you describe, but without any warning, much less any action by the user.) Early on I experienced some inconsistency and frustration with their top speed, as well. Aggression from drivers is more likely to kill me than anything else, so when I set out on a one- or two-mile trip on city streets and realized I couldn't top 13mph, it was scary enough to make me stop and look for a different scooter.

Most of all, though, I wonder how much of my brand preferences are entirely the result of randomness.

Same, in LA, I much prefer the Lime scooters to Bird

Totally agree with this. Lime bikes were garbage (I have not tried their newer redesigned ones, since I swore Lime off). I had a Lime bike literally snap in half at the joint where the handlebars connect to the riding platform WHILE I was riding it. It flung me forward in to the street. Luckily no traffic around. I contacted support and they offered to reimburse me for the ride. No indication they were treating it seriously whatsoever. After that, I can't support Lime at all.

I will no longer give Lime any business after I hopped on a scooter with 30% battery and it died within less than 5 minutes. I was late for work, and my only option was to unlock another Lime scooter after the first died, costing me extra $ for the unlock. I communicated this to their support team and they refused to give me a refund, telling me that I should check the battery life before getting on a scooter (shouldn't 30% enough to go 1.5 miles?)...I expressed my frustration to the survey following up the support and still no refund for the unlock fee. It may seem silly, but that was the straw that broke the camel's back and I uninstalled the app.

Strong agreement. JUMP bikes were designed for the hostile environment of vandals and sabotage that exist here. Lime bikes weren't.

I LIKE dockless bikeshare. But the bikes have to be safe to ride.

I didn't even realize they still had bikes.

In my town, they rolled out the Lime bikes and then pulled out a year and a half later. Now there are a bunch of abandoned green squares around the neighborhood where they used to be deployed.

Surprising how quick cities were to carve out parking spaces and create signage for rental bikes and scooters just to have them pull out a year later.

In copenhagen Lime is the most robust (and albeit clunky) of the 5-6 brands present. It seems they are the same as in your town. Wonder why our experience differ so much?

Maybe because Americans treat the bikes poorly compared to the civilized folks of Denmark ;)

The JUMP bikes are just better made by a wide margin and seem to handle the abuse well - https://www.standard.co.uk/tech/london-electric-bikes-tested...

GP has used Lime e-bicycles, but you've used Lime scooters.

Example Lime e-bicycle: https://road.cc/content/news/252967-london-gets-its-first-do...

Jump bikes are also safer as the brake lines are a lot harder to cut than the Lime ones (since they're shielded). This happens quite frequently to people I know.

Here in Lima their scooters are bigger and more robust looking than the competition (Movo and Green). Lime has only been operating here for less than half a year and I was looking forward for them to bring bikes too :(

I actually really like the lime bikes. In my city lime is the only option with the E-assist and I see people riding them all the time.

If the only option with e-assist was Lime I can see why you'd like them :) However if you have JUMP available it's no contest - https://www.standard.co.uk/tech/london-electric-bikes-tested...

Of the e-scooter startups I've tried, Lime is my favorite. In my smaller city (Indianapolis) we just have Bird and Lime, and Bird's restrictions on hours, locations, and parking make them very difficult to use (They turn themselves off if they leave their range, and many pieces of downtown are considered 'out of bounds'). Meanwhile, the Limes are better distributed around the city, easier to park, and have much more generous boundaries. Bird has the stronger brand recognition, but that's about it.

I'm surprised that it was warmer climate cities that underperformed in the US, because I would have expected those to have a much better chance for profit, as cold winter seasons dramatically reduce scooter usage. Too much competition?

Too much competition, but really the infrastructure is not there in warm cities in the U.S. They also increased the price so you are more inclined to take an uber or public transport than spend $6 on a bird ride. Riding on a pothill filled gutter while cars clip you at 35mph in LA is not ideal. If there were more bike lanes that were longer than 1 block, these things would be way more popular. Not sure why these companies aren't advocating for more bike lanes as it will help their brand.

It also doesn't help that these companies let defective equipment remain in the network. After grabbing a scooter one day that had zero brakes, discovered only when I was trying to stop at a red light and not get slaughtered in the intersection, I now do an inspection of the brake lines and the wheels before I unlock. For some consumers the state these scooters are in will put them off entirely.

As someone who spent 8 years heavily biking around LA, I'm glad I got out of there before the bike lanes became overrun with motorized drunks.

Currently far more overran with motorized uber drivers/delivery/meter maid/mailmen/police/random pricks using it as free overflow parking. The drunks prefer driving anyway.

I didn't realize the rates were so high, I'd spend like $3k/yr if I tried to commute 5 miles on one.

> I'm surprised that it was warmer climate cities that underperformed in the US, because I would have expected those to have a much better chance for profit, as cold winter seasons dramatically reduce scooter usage. Too much competition?

I was surprised about this too. Though, from my anecdotal experience, there are a ton of micromobility companies operating in San Diego.

I recently visited San Diego and was absolutely blown away by how many scooter companies were operating there, and how many unused scooters I saw lying around.

There’s a ton in Denver that’s for sure.

Bird, Lime, Uber/Jump, Razor, and Lyft just off the top of my head. There’s pretty much at least one or so parked on every corner in the downtown area.

I wonder how much of this is because warmer climate cities have greater homeless and/or drug addict problems.

Here in Seattle, I saw lots of trashed Lime bikes and lots of unsavory folks using them, often with enough stuff piled onto them to imply they had forcibly unlocked them and were using them long-term. I ran into a couple of managers at Lime once and they said vandalism and theft was a big problem.

They get junked pretty fast in LA too. Sometimes the bike or scooter will be spray painted to hide the branding, sometimes not at all. They ride well enough unpowered to be useful, at least useful enough to ride back to a better place to start taking it apart. The encampment by my parking lot has a half a dozen of these stacked up in a pile with other peoples bikes. Police don't care, and neither do the companies it seems.

> Police don't care

The problem right there. It doesn’t have to be that way, its a choice.

The VC funded scooter rental companies don't bear the most significant cost of scooters, public health. Quality studies outlining the risk and costs are scarce, but there are some:


Key points: 15% of scooter riders who seek medical attention have a traumatic brain injury. This doesn't include those transported by EMS. 63% of injured riders had ridden an scooter 9 or more times before.

Perhaps e-scooters are safe in some markets, but in many they are a death trap that the vendors will never have to pay for.

Cars kill 37,000 people in the United States each year.

> 15% of scooter riders who seek medical attention

This statistic is meaningless without a base rate.

They will once the lawsuits make their way through the legal system. TBI lawsuits are big business.

Also wear a helmet if you are going be on the roads in the US!

Leaves 12 markets and lays off 8 people per market?

For a company with a physical product and inventory, 8 people per city seems like somewhere in the neighborhood of sobriety, possibly verging on stingy. Not the sort of excess we so often find in a tech company that is experiencing layoffs.

They may also have "independent contractors" to do the work

The guys who retrieve the scooters for these kinds of companies are "independent contractors."


Ah, right. That does skew those numbers quite a bit.


This is not counting all the people they "employ" to service their scooters. Hopefully the market is big enough to accommodate them into the competition.

companies like Uber, Lime, Bird, etc. have a lot of small regional offices in different cities that mostly employ operations and local marketing people that handle the grunt work with running these types of city-based companies. These aren't typical "tech" jobs and not typical "tech" offices.

One factor missing from most analyses of scooter companies are the sheer cost of insuring scooters long term. Insurance rates are likely based on the assumption that scooter companies can disclaim against any user damages (injury, death, etc) but companies can't disclaim against gross negligence and there are many, many legal actions against Lime and other scooter companies (disclaimer/source: I'm a plaintiff in one of these actions).

Failure rates are known to be fairly high and accidents are common [1]. I was on a Lime that had a brake failure and I was pretty badly injured. Lime themselves have indicated that the failure rate was around .00045%, but that's still 450 brake failures per million rides [2].

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/scooter-use-... [2] https://www.li.me/blog/safety-update-february-2019

I do a lot of travel and, anecdotally, there seems to be a huge variation in popularity of rental scooters by city (even just considering the cities where one or more companies operate). Wide bike/pedestrian paths are probably one factor and weather is another. But they seem very popular in some places and barely used in others for reasons that often aren't immediately obvious, at least to me.

> they seem very popular in some places and barely used in others for reasons that often aren't immediately obvious

I think a lot of this has to do with regulation. Some cities actively encouraged scooters and bikes, some took a hands-off approach, and others banned or restricted them to the level where it was difficult to operate.

You can really see the effect of this in San Diego, which at first welcomed the bikes and scooters, then reversed course and banned them in a lot of places [1]. Several of the companies left town after that happened, and you see a lot fewer bikes and scooters around now. It's still the same city, same weather, and there are more bike lanes than there were two years ago. The only thing that changed is the regulation.

[1] https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/environment/story/...

I don't remember welcoming them, so much as they proliferated over the course of a few months. They were so "popular" that they were being left all over the place to the point where it was widely regarded as hazardous. Companies in this space need to take more responsibility for the impact on the community and environment - regulation didn't kill them in San Diego, the companies themselves did.

> You can really see the effect of this in San Diego, which at first welcomed the bikes and scooters, then reversed course and banned them in a lot of places

I'm in San Diego, and that's exactly what happened. I live downtown, and at first, scooters were my favorite way to get around.

Then the city forced the scooter vendors to configure no-ride zones, 3mph speed limit zones (seriously, you can walk faster), and no-parking zones inside their apps, and geofence them. Overnight, the downtown scooter market just dried up. I stopped using all scooters downtown because of this, not just Lime, and since the regulation kicked in, I can't see any scooter company making it in downtown San Diego. The scooters just disappeared.

Can we please just make this (scooters, bikes) public transit?

Not profitable - check

Good for society - check

In need of regulation - check

I wish, but corruption and graft has lead LA's metrobikes to cost something like $2500 each and that program is quickly spiraling out of existence.

Greedy contractors and privatization aside, you need infrastructure for transit, and for these scooters and bikes that means building bike lanes. Otherwise, it's no surprise that ridership is declining as they aren't safe on roads with LA drivers who kill more pedestrians every year. The LA bike lane network is currently an embarrassment with little political support for improvement, in fact there are councilmen actively working to remove bike lanes from their neighborhoods.

>I wish, but corruption and graft has lead LA's metrobikes to cost something like $2500 each

That doesn't seem too excessive to me. What do you think would be a more reasonable price for purchasing an electric bike* with a fair degree of customization and a corresponding maintenance contract?

* IIRC the bikes have integrated NFC readers for your TAP card, built in U-locks, probably GPS, and that sweet sweet Metro paint job.

They had a really ugly green Hulu color for a while too. I would hope that Hulu paid for those bikes.

Well they are neither maintained nor electric for the most part

Only the pedal assist ones cost 2500, the non-electric ones (still have batteries, but just for internal stuff) cost like $1200 each

Is this because you can't make money off short-term scooter rentals (Because the cost of providing this service is > what customers are willing to pay), or because other startups ate their lunch?

My wife is seriously considering a scooter (Even a non-electrified one) for her commute (2-3 days a week, 5 miles) - and I can't see a world where we'd rent one on the daily, as opposed to owning.

My uninformed guess is:

A problem with the rental model is the colossal inefficiency of having to pay people with cars and vans to drive around, and collect + charge scooters at the end of the day. This is a huge waste of resources and human time. Even with VCs p------ a firehose of money into the market, most of it ends up going to drivers, rather than customers.

I’ll try to do the math here.

Assuming the following:

Cost to buy: $500

Cost to charge $0.40/day (maybe generous)

Cost to Rent: $2/day

Rental Mileage: $0.15/min

Assume 10mph average, (10 miles/day) $9/day

Total: $11/day to rent

2x/week,50 weeks

100 days (200 rides):

Buy: $540

Rent: $1100

No way it’s economical to rent scooters routinely. Even if you break your scooter every 6 months, you can still save by buying a new one.

And who wants to ride scooters you know are abused? Heck, I rode one and the brakes didn’t work.

I think the advantage of rental is the ability to drop off or pick up anywhere -- you can ride a scooter to the office, walk or bus to a restaurant after work, then rent a different scooter home. Or you might take a scooter from work to the restaurant, and you don't need to worry about parking the rental scooter securely or carrying it around with you.

But that only works if scooters are ubiquitous enough that you can find one when you want one.

This model works with cars (e.g. ZipCar) but with scooters I don't see how this is possible, unless the entire city is quite literally littered with scooters.

If I have to walk 5-10 min to the nearest car which I can unlock from my phone and then use to drive 5 miles somewhere then it's great, but if I have to walk 5-10 minutes to the nearest scooter pickup so I can scooter somewhere for 5-10 minutes then it sort of defeats the whole point.

If you have to walk 3 blocks for a scooter, then they really aren't "ubiquitous", I'm not a scooter user, but they seem to litter the sidewalks around here, so it's usually only a 1 or 2 minute walk.

As you said, if it's much longer than that, then there's no point -- I don't think I'd want to ride a scooter more than a mile or so anyway, so if it takes me 10 minutes to find one, I may as well just walk the whole way.

Even in LA which has a huge number of scooters, there's been times where I've scooted someplace then when I turn around to leave someone unlocked it.

If it's getting later in the day most of the scooters you find are going to be scattered in all sorts of very strange areas, many times in gated apartments, and/or with not enough charge to get you home. Or maybe you have to settle for that scooter with the screen dangling out of it by the wires and the handlebars at 45* relative to the wheel that everyone else was just not desperate enough to use.

> unless the entire city is quite literally littered with scooters.

This is certainly true for the hire bikes in London (scooters don't seem to have gotten permission for many areas yet).

The thing is, there's no reason why my wife can't take the scooter with her, into the office. It's not like she's riding a moped, or even a bicycle!

The ones you can buy actually fold down in half and are barely bigger than a yogamat. Very practical for office and subway.

Even with that napkin math, the value to not have to own the asset, insure it against theft, or carry it around constantly is still worth it to some consumers. The spontaneity of "hop on and ride, then forget about it" is the appeal.

You’re right about that value add, but it’s probably not a value add for anyone using an electric scooter as a daily means of transportation.

One of the biggest detractors is that you could ride a scooter to work and when you go to leave, realize the nearest scooter is half a mile away.

Then in that hypothetical you just pay a little more for an uber/lyft. That's the benefit of not being locked into an asset.

This. A friend of mine bought one but still rides some from times to times when its practical. He also owns a car but still rides uber from times to times.

5 miles one way? Genuine question but why would you want to commute 5 miles on a scooter multiple times a week compared to a bicycle?

I think the biggest advantage scooters have over ebikes is that for a lot of people, there’s a place to store a scooter at both ends of a commute (under a desk) but not necessarily secure bike storage.

Also a huge advantage is the mobility of a scooter over a bike. With a scooter you are more flexible to changes in your day. Did a friend just message you during lunch to meet up for drinks in a different part of town? No probs, just take the scooter on the tube after work. Did the weather just change drastically? No probs, can quickly change to a different way of commute and the scooter doesn't feel like a huge showstopper whereas with a bike it all becomes really really complicated.

Bicycles in big cities are too inflexible. If all you want is to commute like a sheep from home to work and back to home every day then a bicyle is a great inexpensive and green choice, in every other case it's a problem. Unless of course you are in a small village, where a possible change of plans will still result in a short ride. In London this is not possible. If I was to meet friends spontaneously outside my daily commute area then it would be impossible with a bicycle.

I no longer live in London, but these scooters seem a bit big to go on a metro train.

The smallest folding bicycles (e.g. Brompton) are fine, but scooters must either be balanced upright, exposing dirty wheels, or take up a lot of floor space. No thanks!

In the largest cities like London, if my plans changed I'd just leave the bicycle at work, and take public transport to the party, home, and to work the next day (unless my way home passes work, then I can collect the bicycle).

Subways are hard, but many big cities have overland metros and/or buses that can take bikes just fine. Maybe the trip takes 10m more than the subway ride, but then you have the bike at the other end, speeding up the last mile.

I love my brompton foldable bike. much handier than a scooter :)

Not only that, but as a cyclist who took scooters to the office back when I worked in one, the main advantage was when I used a scooter I didn't show up sweaty.

It doesn't matter how slow you pedal, in the American Southeast, just being outside in the summer makes you sweat. A lot of places in this area don't have offices with showers in them. A scooter let me spend time outside without having to end up being a mess.

Exactly, I'm actually considering owning a scooter specifically for those situations where I don't have a secure place to store the bike at the other end of travel or during some interval.

Isn't this (under desk storage) why folding bikes exist?

Folding bikes are either clumsy or expensive compared to electric scooters like the Xiaomi. The folding mechanism is rarely anywhere near as nice as a scooter.

What? Decent folding bikes have excellent mechanisms these days. Meanwhile most electric scooters don’t fold at all and have a tendency to topple over if you touch them wrong.

All the rental scooters have been modified so they don't fold for durability. The consumer grade ones all fold. Folding bikes are a lot pricier than the $300 xiaomi m365 that I regularly see on craigslist for $150.

The biggest reason for me would be to prevent sweating in your work outfit. On a scooter you can go fully dressed for work.

I enjoyed biking in Austin, but as you can imagine the intense heat a good portion of the year meant a full outfit change and shower after every ride just to start the day.

Many electric scooter models fold into a small form factor, so they are easy to bring on public transit and you can bring it to your desk (making them much less likely to be stolen).

Also they have less of a learning curve compared to biking on roads, and are easier to maintain, IMO.

In certain cities, that might actually be faster than driving.

Me and my friends accidentally ended up testing that theory in LA. We were going to koreatown from Santa Monica and had about 10 miles left. Half of us decided to use limebikes, another half ended up taking uber. The people on limebikes arrived at about the same time, despite the whole scooter group having to stop every 30-40 minutes and search for another scooter, since in a group of 5 people riding those, there would inevitable be one that is running out of charge in that time interval.

Anything that you can lane split with is faster than driving in LA. My bike commute is faster than the car commute since I zip on by at 15mph while everyone is suffering at like 6-10mph in traffic. Motorcycles just go the posted speed limit and don't feel traffic at all, but I know I'd die if I started riding a motorcycle here.

If I bike past 3 miles I'm gonna start sweating, and pushing 5 miles I start feeling it on bad air days. With the scooter you just stand still and don't have to do any special layering. People ride them in suits.

An ebike solves that. Which one is more comfortable/safer? I haven't ridden an electric scooter so I don't know.

ebikes for sure. Bigger wheels go over potholes better, and only the original bird scooters actually had air in their tires, the rest are just hard rubber that feels pretty rough/bone-rattly on bad roads.

Safety wise, I'd say they are about even. Cars aren't going to value your life either way.

I have never tried a scooter, is it really that easy doing a full stop with a scooter at 25km/h safely?

Another advantage is that scooters place less restrictions on how you are dressed. Dresses, shoes not meant for exercise, etc.

The advantage of scooter and bike share over owning is spontaneity. I love being able to grab a bike on a whim without any planning. And one-way trips is a big advantage, which of course only works because people are shuttling them around.

I think the relative efficiency of the share model needs to be weighed against the inefficiency of everyone owning their own while only using it a fraction of the time.

The bike vs. scooter thing is interesting (although a non electrified scooter would NOT be a good idea, much harder than biking a comparable distance with a weirder, less efficient motion).

I think that objectively a bike is a much better option for longer trips like this. Both in terms of efficiency and safety. I'd be VERY surprised if on a per mile basis, scooters weren't much more dangerous than bikes.

However, scooters FEEL safer for non-regular bike riders because you are closer to the ground, the helmet feels more optional (though it should not be) and riding on the sidewalk, where you are away from cars, feels like more of an option on a scooter than on a bike (although again, it shouldn't be).

I'd certainly advise a bike if the route is at all flat, and an e-bike if it isn't, but I can understand why that seems like a less appealing choice to some.

Copenhagen has plenty of novice (i.e. tourist) bicycle and scooter riders.

I'm confident that, regardless of "feeling", bicycles are the better option for pretty much all tourists/novices who can ride one. It's much, much more stable at all speeds. Scooter riders wobble when starting off, wobble when going at a reasonable speed, wobble when stopping and struggle with turn signals.

On the other hand, even very young children on unpowered kick scooters tend to have pretty good control.

As a tourist/traveler I love rental scooters. For commuting I would obviously buy my own, but when I travel somewhere I wouldn't want to carry my scooter everywhere. Just arriving at Frankfurt central station, stepping out of the train station and grabbing a scooter is a huge convenience if you want to get somewhere close-ish in the city.

5 miles? That sounds more suitable for a bike, an eBike if you don't want to pedal.

A scooter just seems dangerous on the roads and even trails around here -- there are many ruts and potholes that will swallow a 4" scooter wheel and bring you to an abrupt stop.

Riding a scooter doesn't even avoid the need to wear a helmet (assuming that protecting your brain is important to you). Many people wrongly assume that the helmet is to protect you if a car hits you, but really it's there to protect you when your head hits the pavement for any fall -- there's a very low speed range where a helmet is any protection in a collision but even a simple fall can result in serious head injury without a helmet if your head hits the pavement.

Exactly. If there was a way to optimize the process of managing the fleet, either by predicting where people want to go from and to or having to recharge the batteries less frequently then these services would be more viable. Maybe the new type of batteries will open up opportunities here.

I was able to rent a scooter from Bird for $25/month in a city and it cut my transportation cost from $170 to like $50. It eliminated ubers to/from events, public transit to/from work, bike rentals to/from gym. Definitely recommend owning a scooter

I'm curious, was there a specific scooter that was yours? Or you just paid $25/mo for unlimited rides?

It was a specific one that was mine. I would open the app and only my scooter would show up (other users couldn't see it). I'd store it in my apt and what not

I see a ton of Ninebots during my commute, seems like more and more people choose to own. Even folks at my company own various escooter variants.

I don't drive, don't even have a license - my Ninebot Max has been the best purchase I've made to my personal freedom of movement living in the suburbs of a city with lackluster public transit.

Intercity bus routes only run M-F, so to go 10 miles downtown I have to get the whole way by myself. I can bike, but even if I were in better shape I would still be quite sweaty and exhausted by the time I make that trip. My scooter gets me the distance in an hour comfortably and I don't feel like I need to change after I arrive.

You would think making a long trip like this and standing up for an hour would be a pretty terrible experience, but I've been quite comfortable with it as well as 3 mile trips to the office when required, etc.

personal freedom of movement, that's an awesome phrase

It is, yet it's something most people take for granted. When I moved out from closer to the metro center with my wife I lost access to the bus system, restricting my ability to get around without needing her to drive me. Buying my bike and scooter this year gave my lost freedom back, which just feels good.

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