What are e-scooters and where can I ride them?
The popularity of riding electric scooters to get from one destination to another has soared with more than 100 cities around the world – including San Francisco, Paris, and Copenhagen, operating sharing schemes. In Finland for instance, 41% of respondents to a survey said they had replaced taxi rides or private cars with e-scooters and almost one in five said they had used them for business trips.
As the COVID-19 lockdowns around the world begin to ease, transport habits are also changing with people living in cities shunning public transport in favor of alternative travel methods that increase social distancing. The pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of e-scooters to allow people to travel safely from one place to another and avoid public transport. In fact, governments around the world are looking to fast-track the deployment of these vehicles to reduce the pressure on public transport services.
For example, shared e-scooter providers such as Bird, Lime, Voi and Tier are all working with the UK government in efforts to combat congestion on public transport services. In other countries, like Japan, legislation has been passed classifying e-scooters capable of speeds of over 9kph as a motor vehicle, meaning that riders are legally required to obtain a license and registration like they would if they owned a motorbike.
What are e-scooters?
Put simply, e-scooters are dockless two-wheeled scooters with small, electric motors. You can rent these scooters by-the-minute and zoom down roads at 15mph or 25kph. These motorised scooters are generally designed with a large deck in the centre on which the rider stands.
While battery-powered scooters have been available for years, these scooters are more high-tech than ever, now fitted with GPS trackers and wireless connectivity. They are available to buy online and in stores and cost anywhere from just over £100 to more than £1000.
How can you rent one?
If you don’t want to buy an e-scooter, a variety of companies now offer on-demand fleets that you can rent through an app – sort of how Uber and Lyft offer on-demand fleets of taxis.
To access these e-scooters you will need to download an app, create a login, add your payment details, and scan your driver’s license. You will then see a map of your area that will show you any nearby e-scooters and how much battery the scooters have.
When you find an e-scooter near you, you tap the button to unlock it and scan a photo of the scooter’s QR code. To start the e-scooter, step on it, kick forward, then push the throttle button. With every e-scooter you press down on the right to accelerate and squeeze brake on the left.
To end the ride, open the app and tap the button to lock the scooter. The app will then show you the ride time cost.
What regulations exist to regulate e-scooters?
Regulations vary depending on what country you are riding your e-scooter in and we would always advise you to check exactly where you are permitted to ride before starting your journey. To make sure you are being as safe as possible, it is also recommended to wear a helmet.
In the UK, rental companies have been given the green light to offer e-scooters in trials that are going to be held in locations across the country from July 4. However, private scooters not involved in these trials are still against the law and can’t be used on pavements, cycle lanes, or the road, because they don’t have visible rear lights or a number plate.
In Paris, 12 startups provide e-scooters around the city and there are around 20,000 scooters in total. As such, the laws in France have changed since e-scooters were first introduced. Now, riders are not allowed to wear headphones while on their scooter and riding on the pavement is prohibited unless in designated areas. What’s more, people can now be fined €135 for driving them on the pavement or €35 for parking them in doorways, crosswalks and other busy locations, blocking pedestrians.
For a full list of State laws in the US that details all the regulations, please see this webpage.
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