From scourge to savior: Are scooters the key to opening up gridlock?

“Scooter rage” became a thing almost as quickly as scooters. But they might transform your city’s future.


February 6, 2020

Electric scooters rolled up uninvited in cities across America and became the hottest new toy on two wheels.

But it didn’t take much longer for “scooter rage” to set in:

  • In DC, someone apparently hurled a yellow Bolt scooter off a bridge and into a tree. A mystery artist painted scooter handlebars with turds.
  • The Instagram account Bird Graveyard posts pictures of scooters being mangled, stripped for parts, and crammed into toilets.
  • The makers of Angry Birds even created a rage-powered scooter. Now that’s innovation!

City lawmakers read the room and pumped the brakes. But in LA — where scooters have been set on fire and driven into the ocean — the rolling scooter sh*tshow has taken a new turn.

That’s because scooters say a lot about where — and how — we travel

The New York Times reports that LA’s transportation department created an open-source platform that collects data from the city’s scooters and bikes.

  • It helps city planners generate ideas for the future of infrastructure — by looking at where everyone has zipped around already.
  • It’s now used by more than 50 American cities and dozens more around the world.

The smart-growth set sees connected scooters as a way to cut down on congestion and cool the climate.

They may be green, but their future isn’t necessarily golden

Scooter companies reversed their ambitions in the face of regulation and competition.

  • Lime said in January that it was laying off 14% of its workforce and pulling out of a dozen markets.
  • Both Lime and Bird are focused on streamlining their supply chains. Bird has developed scooters that require fewer repairs — useful for when angry city dwellers go HAM on them.

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