Could Electric Scooters Save Cities—Or Ruin Them?

Outside Online examined the quality-of-life impact of dockless, shareable scooters in Portland.

Beth Chitel experiences Lime's electric scooter. (Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Hyoung Chang

During the spring of 2018, dockless, shareable electric scooters started to make headlines after a backlash in San Francisco, where residents claimed that people riding them were taking over bike lanes, littering the sidewalks with abandoned vehicles and menacing children and old people with their reckless behavior. San Francisco then banned the e-scooters pending the implementation of a new permitting process (though they are now coming back).

Other cities are also trying to figure out the scooter fad. New York City is currently drafting a bill to allow the scooters, though there is no clear deadline for the legislation. And in Portland, Oregon, the Bureau of Transportation launched its own scooter share pilot program. Outside Online decided to examine Portland’s experience to answer the question of whether or not scooters will help or hurt cities.

In Portland, the pilot program has a combined 2,363 electric scooters on the streets, coming from three companies: Bird, Skip, and Lime. Outside Online writes that in their opinion, scooters will never replace bikes, because these models have a top speed of only 15 mph, which means you can’t accelerate out of traffic. Plus, because of their low power, they’re only suited to flat terrain. But, the magazine writes, for “covering a mile or two quickly, they’re absolutely ideal.”

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