Electric scooters zip into popularity, creating transportation opportunity

Electric scooters zip into popularity, creating transportation opportunity

When you think of the word “scooter,” do you think of a push-style children’s toy intent on smashing your ankles? Or, does the future of transportation come to mind? The transportation utility of scooters is beginning to come into sharper focus with the proliferation of GPS-locatable electric scooters in major cities across the country. They haven’t made it to the streets of Southwest Florida just yet, but that could change before long.

The use of scooters as a mode of transportation is not exactly a new idea. The world’s first motorized scooter, known as the Autoped, was patented all the way back in 1913 and was even adopted by the U.S. Post Office. Still, the widespread use of scooters for transportation didn’t begin until the early 2000s with the rise in popularity of the Razor brand scooter. While not motorized, Razor Scooters were named Toy of the Year in 2001 and sold over 5 million units in just the first six months following their launch in 2000. The inventor of the Razor never thought of his creation as a toy, however. He envisioned instead a fundamental change in urban transportation, particularly for “last-mile” transportation, a term that describes short-distance trips.

His idea spawned a new kind of transportation altogether. Electric scooter companies, like Lime and Bird, have flooded metropolitan areas across the country with convenient, rechargeable scooters. Building off the concept of Uber and Lyft, these companies are providing an on-demand app-based transportation service. At costs as low as $2 per ride, it’s no wonder this idea is taking off.

The thrill that scooter riders can reap from zipping around has also contributed to their popularity. In Portland’s scooter pilot program, these powerful little vehicles racked up more than 96,000 rides in just 21 days. More than 20 percent of all vehicle trips cover 2 miles or less, so electric scooters could become a valuable piece in the transportation puzzle.

Cities close to home, including Miami, are considering their own pilot scooter program. So, we can’t help but ask ourselves whether this is indeed the future of transportation. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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