Almost overnight, electric scooters have apparently become ubiquitous on streets and sidewalks in cities in the United States.
From teenage to traveling to tourists, this last trend of transport has been enthusiastically treated – and they are afraid, from a few angles, as confusion is abounding on usage rules, whether they are considered to be motorized vehicles and where they can be driven.
And they do not seem to leave soon.
"The more scooters you get, the more people use it," said Dave Estrada, head of government relations and politics at Bird, who just a year ago began a social experiment with a few scooters on the streets of Santa Monica, California, and since then it has expanded to more than 75 markets in seven countries.
You love or hate them, scooters seem to be here to stay, so we'll try to answer some of the most common questions we have about them.
It's everywhere, but how did we get here?
Companies like Bird, Skip and Lime were among the first to put scooters on US roads.
There followed the frenzy of the motorcycle share movement that took off in the United States in 2017, with colorful bikes that could be rented through an application and fall where the road was completed. Several of these services remained after they battled with vandalism, theft and city rules.
Some companies that started with bicycles added scooters to their fleets.
Electronic scooters began to appear in California last spring and expanded rapidly. Less than a year later, thousands are available for rent in places that stretch from Portland to New York.
Where can I find them?
Bird and Lime, the two largest providers, are in more than 75 markets in many countries. They cover major markets in the United States, such as San Diego, Denver, Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Minneapolis, New York, Baltimore and Washington. Skip, a much smaller business, has scooters on the ground in Washington, Portland, San Francisco and Long Beach, California. He also tastes the service in San Jose and Auckland, California. Lyft recently opened in Denver, Santa Monica and Washington
How are they set up?
Most cities were unprepared for the arrival of the scooters and did not have regulations for them. Several parties banned the service altogether, in some cases responding to the unannounced arrival of scooters and bicycles without tethering and withdrawal orders.
Cities are still struggling to create rules governing services, including setting where bikes are legitimate to drive, fleet restrictions, charges, parking and speed requirements. Seattle has banned communal scooters until it can study the situation in other cities. Nashville earlier this year sent Bird's order to stop and prosecute Bird accusing the company of using public sidewalks without permission, but later adopted legislation allowing scooters to return. San Francisco forced scooter companies to close, but recently reopened its roads in the industry.
Scooters are subject to "Personal Mobility Device" rules, which state that they are cars and can not be banned by people under the age of 16.
Where can they be driven?
Most cities allow electric scooters on the road. Like bikes, they are considered vehicles and can share the road with regular traffic. When on the road, riders must adhere to traffic laws. But states and cities can have rules that differ, and riders should check the rules of their jurisdiction.
Like bikes, some cities allow scooters to be used on sidewalks, others not.
California law, for example, prohibits electric scooters on sidewalks. In Denver, scooters are only allowed on sidewalks and are forbidden to use them on the street. In the area, scooters can be used on pavements, except for the central business district, which includes the city center. The same rule applies to bikes.
As a general rule, riders are encouraged to use bicycle avenues, if any, or on the road. Driving is discouraged on busy sidewalks, where it can be dangerous.
How can I rent one and how much does it cost?
You can find, unlock and pay for a scooter using the application of each company. Apps are available through the Apple App Store and Google Play. Apps work the same way: They provide the place of the scooter that is closest to you and guide you to the rental process. You will need a credit card. Scooters in most cities rent with $ 1 to start, plus 15 minutes per minute. In some cities, it's 20 minutes per minute.
Are there any requirements for hiring and scooter riding?
Most companies require riders aged 18 and over. This layout is often printed on the scooter and / or included in the user agreement. Bird and Lime requires users to scan their driving licenses. Skip uses identity detection technology to ensure that riders meet the age requirements in most cities.
Is there a security protocol and a helmet required?
Most cities do not require riders to use a helmet, as in the case of Washington, but companies encourage their use. Bird and Skip will send helmets to users who ask for them. For security reasons, only one person is allowed on a scooter at a time. Riders are required to follow all traffic laws, including signs and signals. Use both hands while driving and do not wear headphones so you can pay attention to your environment without distracting you.
How are scooters maintained?
Companies are expected to develop staff to check the scooters daily, but reports of malfunctions and broken or vandalized equipment are on the increase. Some of the companies have stated that they support the maintenance and recruitment of engineers and skilled personnel. Bird, for example, recently hired a team called Bird Watchers, which says it scans every scooter, inspects the maintenance checklist and is trained to solve problems on the ground. Companies say they are also working to develop a more durable scooter for everyday use – a more durable choice than the first generation of scooters.
How fast can they go?
Most companies have set speed limits on their scooters at 15 miles an hour. However, they urge riders to follow local regulations and pay attention. In the region, new regulations that will come into force next year will require companies to set a maximum speed limit of 10 mph.
What is the battery life?
Most communal scooters have a range of 30 miles and are designed to last all day.
What are the hours of operation?
Most scooters take the scooters at night to recharge and repair if needed and return them to the streets in the morning. Lime says his scooters are available 24 hours a day. They have groups pulling scooters to rebalance every eight hours.
Are they available in all weather conditions?
As winter approaches, scooters may not be widely available in some cities. Companies say they can pull their fleets during intense weather and / It is expected that the scooters will be out of commission during a snowstorm, for example. Company employees say they make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Bird stopped operations in cities hit by Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Lime said that in areas with harsh winters where roads are too frozen, it sometimes redistributes scooters to warmer areas.
Where should you park them?
The key is to park responsibly. Some cities (and companies) are starting to retreat to users who just reject scooters wherever they are. They also work to create designated parking areas on the sidewalks and curbs for bikes and scooters. Some companies are working on geofencing technology that will prohibit riders from stopping excursions in areas where they are not supposed to leave the vehicles. As a general rule, riders should never leave a scooter to block pedestrian pedestrians, corridors or entrances to buildings, or at intersections or bus stops and metro. The scooters must be stationary.
What else should we expect to move forward?
In the coming months, there may be more social dialogue on the scooter, the infrastructure to address personal mobility choices and more educational campaigns to encourage safe and regular cycling.
In a few months, Lime launches a $ 3 million education and security campaign, which includes advertisements, community visibility, and helmet delivery. Companies and cities should better educate street users about how to co-exist.