Seeing someone on a scooter was once a familiar sight. For many, childhood conveyances would get kids from one point to another. All that was needed was a leg sweeping along with the street or sidewalk to maintain forward motion.
Scooters are on the comeback trail, filling streets and sidewalks with not only children but also adults. Physical exertion is no longer required as they run on power. Many can move as fast as 30 miles per hour. In cities with significant traffic congestion, traveling by scooter is the fastest way to get from one point to another.
Not only are businesses benefiting from the boom, but companies in the business of providing shared scooters to communities throughout the country also see a rise in their profits. The National Association of City Transportation Officials revealed that, in 2018, US residents traveled on shared scooters 38.5 million times in more than 100 cities.
When combined with station-based and dockless bikes, the number rises to 84 million, a 100 percent increase from the previous year. Startup companies have raised billions of dollars in an industry that many predict will grow to $50 billion by 2025.
As with any new trend, problems soon arise. Many see scooters as a significant safety hazard for both operators and pedestrians. City officials in opposition to the vehicles cited safety as their primary concern and worry they would block sidewalks if parked inappropriately, impeding pedestrians and people with disabilities. Many major metropolitan areas have implemented programs for scooter sharing. Other areas are holding off on their approval and put short-term bans into place while they investigate the pros and cons of such an initiative.
The first line of scooters saw several accidents that resulted in emergency room visits. Since the fall of 2017, 1,500 injuries occurred, with eight deaths reported. Manufacturers responded with building scooters that undergo fire safety, impact, and durability standards similar to those in the electric car industry.
In addition to these improvements, many service providers are also stepping up to provide safety training and free helmets.