Is The Electric Scooter Really Sustainable?
Sustainability

Is The Electric Scooter
Really Sustainable?

If you’ve visited a major city across the world lately, you might have seen a few people riding around on similar scooters. Many large cities are piloting electric scooters in the city as a part of a green transportation program. However, while electric scooters are now widespread in towns and cities, you’ll see that they aren’t very sustainable when you look at the whole picture. With this article, you’ll learn about electric scooters’ recent rise in popularity and sustainability issues. 

Recent Popularity

For most cities in the United States, they did not include the electric scooter in their micro mobility plans until 2018. Once cities introduced electric scooters to cities, their popularity took off quickly. According to National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), in 2019, people in the U.S. took 86 million trips on scooters. This is really significant success for only the second year of piloting in many U.S. cities. In addition, in 2019, 109 cities had dockless scooter programs, which was almost a 50% increase from 2018. Some markets have only one company to choose from, like Chicago, for example, with Divvy cornering the market. 

Many European cities feature electric scooters just as frequently as the United States. Paris, for example, has more than 15,000 scooters available to citizens and tourists. Another good example is the Amsterdam-based startup company Dott that expanded its fleet to include 30,000 electric scooters in a dozen cities in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Poland. 

Electric Scooter Issues

While many individuals might rent an electric scooter because they are looking for green transportation methods, they might not know it’s not as “green” as it seems. In reality, researchers at North Carolina State University found that traveling by scooter produces more greenhouse gas emissions per mile than traveling by bus, bicycle, moped, or on foot. It found that scooters produce 20 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, compared to 415 of a standard automobile.

And while it’s not the individual scooters that are environmentally harsh, it’s actually the materials and the companies that work each day to find all the scooters, charge them, and return them that have the most significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. 

In addition, an analysis of data from Bird’s fleet in Louisville, Kentucky, found that the average scooter lasted only 28 days.  This leads to more greenhouse gas emissions as more electric scooters need to be created and shipped to locations. Electric scooters are known for creating greenhouse gas emissions when being made. It’s necessary to build a battery for each scooter, which causes a significant carbon impact.

With the rising popularity of electronic scooters and other micro mobility methods, it’s essential to keep in mind the reality of green transportation. As consumers, it’s essential to see not just the product but the whole production cycle and the overall impact of a product. The other big issue with scooters is how they are used and how that creates a larger carbon impact. When electric scooters are vandalized, tossed in lakes, or treated poorly, cities have to replace or repair them, making a more significant carbon impact. Many of the short distances that individuals used electric scooters for could be replaced with a scenic walk or bike ride in the city. 

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