The rise of electric scooters – Why thousands are embracing this new form of transport
Image Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images
“The reason I bought my electric scooter to begin with was because I was very depressed. I was spending most of my time indoors and it just helped me get out of the house. It really was a lifesaver”. Danny Lowe, who lives in Felton, loves his electric scooter. He isn’t the only one who appreciates the convenience and ease of use of this new form of mobility.
Since 2017, Electric scooters have taken the world by storm. Propelled by millions of dollar of venture capital investments, electric scooter renting companies have dumped thousands of scooters on the streets of over 100 cities worldwide. Bird, Lime, Circ, Tier are beginning to become household names. Private sales of the electric vehicles are up too. In the UK, sales of electric scooters have jumped 50% in 2019, despite being illegal to ride anywhere that isn’t privately owned land.
The rapid expansion of this entirely new market has been extraordinary. Even mainstream car companies are now vying for a space in the market. Last August, the German car giant Audi announced the Audi e-tron Scooter, which it calls “a new e-scooter concept”. The scooter folds up and weights just 12kg (26 pounds), making it easy to lift in and out of the boot of a car.
The scooters have also faced their fair share of criticisms. Lack of regulation surrounding scooter renting companies in many American cities lead to bad parking practices and an increasing sense of anger. An Instagram account known as Bird Graveyard, which gleefully features images of Bird scooter rentals being destroyed and vandalised, has gained an impressive following of 110k.
The Audi e-tron scooter has a unique folding design that makes it more portable than others on the market
Some argue that these are simply growing pains of an industry that is still very new. Other cities, such as Lübeck, Germany have taken a more careful approach. The small city has enforced strict laws and no-park zones. Here, scooters are being largely embraced, as companies work with local authorities to hold training courses and publish offenders. City official Nicol Dorel noted there hasn’t been a single complaint since the scooters were cautiously introduced at the end of 2019.
Andrew Bradbury lives in Putney. He enjoys riding his scooter to work but has stopped since being fined while riding through Battersea park last year. He says, “I don’t understand why they’re not legal when electric bikes and push scooters are”. When asked about why he enjoys his scooter, Bradbury says he likes the convenience the scooters offer, while still being significantly more affordable than a monthly TfL ticket.
The met police in London has been cracking down on electric scooters. Credit: PA Press Association
Apart from the convenience argument, the scooters are also becoming increasingly popular for environmental reasons. In the EU, transport is responsible for nearly 30% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions. 72% of these gases come from road transportation. That’s a significant environmental impact, and one that can be reduced with electric vehicles such as electric scooters. Offering a carbon-free alternative to a car, or even a bus, scooters are positioned to be a more sustainable form of transport for the future.
Despite skyrocketing sales of electric scooters in the UK, they remain illegal. This is because they are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) which means they are treated as motor vehicles. That means they are subject to all the requirements a motor vehicle is subject to, such as MOT and licensing, but because these do not exist for electric scooters, they are not road legal.
Luckily, electric bicycles remain completely legal, and some e-bike sharing companies have even popped up in London recently. If you’re interested in buying an electric bicycle, don’t waste any time! Particularly if you’re on a shoestring budget, check out the OnBoards store. We have a selection of some of the best electric bicycles out there. They are all reasonably priced, and most include a warranty.
UK lawmakers have recently concluded a consultation on the future of mobility, but the laws surround scooters have yet to be changed. Judging by the scooter’s soaring popularity and environmental benefits, they should be considered a serious real sweat-free alternative to the car. Here at OnBoards, we are hoping that, for the sake of the planet and convenience, the government acts soon.