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5 reasons why electric scooters are so popular

Posted by Tom Lee on

Two women standing on electric scooters in a city environment

Do you remember your childhood kick scooter? Many of us may recall these two or three-wheeled devices with nostalgia – whether you’re more familiar with the homemade versions cobbled together in the garage or the metal iterations of the noughties. 

In the past few years they have made a huge comeback, reinvented as electric scooters for urban travel. They are now commonplace in many cities worldwide, particularly in those where the law has been prompt to regulate their usage and citizens quick to embrace them.

There is currently a wealth of e-scooters on the market available to own – however most of the noise has been generated around renting them. Since the launch of dockless rental scooters in California by Bird in 2017, the world seems to have gone mad for them and it’s not difficult to see why they have become so popular.

1. Perfect for short journeys

60% of all city journeys are less than five miles, with 70% of those short distance trips being made by car. E-scooters are ideal for short journeys and also complement other forms of transport, making them the perfect ‘first and last mile’ vehicle for getting from door to door. 

Unless you are lucky enough to live right outside your nearest bus stop, subway, or train station, then you’ll usually have a little way to travel. If it’s a particularly long distance away, then a trip on foot can seem far from appealing. And what about when you’ve got an important meeting or you’re running late? You might choose to hail a ride instead, but this can quickly get expensive and involve a frustrating wait.

Being readily available and having a sensible range has made the e-scooter a popular transportation option among commuters. You can now say goodbye to hunting for parking spaces, waiting for Ubers to arrive during a surge, or being stranded because you missed the last bus.

Trains waiting at the platforms in King's Cross Station in London
Photography by Michal Parzuchowski

2. Convenient and hassle-free

An e-scooter might not be faster than a car on the open road, but urban roads are rarely clear. Scooters make it possible to beat traffic by easily weaving around people and other vehicles, so peak hour standstills can become a thing of the past.

No matter how difficult the trip, you never have to worry about arriving at your destination in a sweaty state, because no pedalling is required – no need to swap your soaked clothes or redo your makeup when you arrive, which means you can start being productive straight away.

Portability is another characteristic that is making personal e-scooters incredibly popular, especially with commuters. Is your workplace so far away that you still have to catch the subway or bus? These practical devices can easily be folded and are light enough to carry with you wherever your heart desires – unlike e-bikes, which feel like lifting weights and are harder to store. A personal e-scooter can be stowed compactly in the corner of your office, underneath your desk or in your home.

Being able to take your electric scooter anywhere also solves the problems of vandalism or theft, two risks always present with bikes. Ever had your bike stolen when you thought it was safely locked up? Storing your e-scooter indoors or taking it with you on the train makes security yesterday’s concern.

3. Environmentally friendly

As the climate change crisis gets ever more urgent, more and more people are seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Ever felt guilty in an empty car or bus? Most cars can carry up to five people or more, yet only regularly transport one or two. Even worse,140,000 Uber and Lyft cars are circulating on any given day in Manhattan, and around 40% of them are driving around unoccupied while circling to pick up their next customer, generating harmful emissions in the process. Isn’t this overserving, one might ask?

Cars are only getting heavier, with even the lightest being over 1,000 kg – nearly 100 times the weight of an e-scooter. This means that more energy is used to produce them and more fuel is required to move them. Interestingly, riding an electric scooter only accounts for 1-2% of the emissions of the average car.

With cities across the world beginning to enforce zero emission zones, there is a growing space in them for e-scooters. In the not so distant future they may become one of the only ways to move around quickly in these overcrowded areas.

Although there are obviously emissions involved in their manufacturing process, e-scooters produce zero emissions while operating, which makes them a much greener alternative to most cars, motorbikes and ridesharing. The fact that they are powered by electricity as opposed to fossil fuels means you’ll never need to worry about your city’s pollution controls.

A hand reaches for a Diesel petrol pump at a gas station
Photography by Philipp Balunovic

4. A great investment

Some e-scooters are really cheap – in fact you can now buy them from your local supermarket. However, as the old adage goes, ‘you get what you pay for’ – cheap scooters are unreliable and are equipped with poor quality batteries that aren’t built to last. Buying a cheap electric scooter is almost guaranteed to get you back to your old commute within months, with the scooter collecting dust in a cupboard.

On the other hand, investing in a reliable e-scooter with good quality batteries, brakes and tires can be a very cost-effective decision. In large cities, a personal e-scooter will be cheaper than forking out hundreds in monthly public transport passes or ridesharing costs, and in the long run it will also be much cheaper (and easier) to maintain than a car or motorbike and involve no fuel costs.

5. Cool and nostalgic

Can standing on an e-scooter ride platform ever look cool? Whilst not everyone will agree, e-scooters seem to have become popular because they are a clever, trendy and fun way of moving around. We are still in the early days of development, so the most stylish designs are likely still to come, but so far there are loads of unique and varied designs and sizes on the market – so you’re certain to find a style that fits your personality. Which ones will stick around? Only time will tell.

Many of us are already familiar with kick scooters from our childhood days, so riding them fills us with nostalgia. For the new rider they are a lot easier to learn than motorbikes, skateboards and bikes, but if you have used a kick scooter as a child, riding the electric version for the first time will definitely feel easy and intuitive.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why electric scooters are taking over the streets of the world’s major cities. Not only are they exhilarating ways of getting around, but they are perfect for short journeys. Their lightweight, foldable frames make them more portable than bikes or e-bikes and the perfect complement to public transport.

As well as being cool, cost-effective, convenient and hassle-free, electric scooters are also greener than alternative means of transportation, becoming the perfect replacement for the car and offering a potential solution to gridlocked streets and air pollution.

While you might still attract curious looks from those not used to seeing adults using them, electric scooters are a bold street statement and a trend definitely worth hopping on. If you are feeling self-conscious about riding one, remember that the first mobile phones looked ridiculous but now everyone has got one!

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