Scooters are not for cyclists

Photo by Mearth Technology on

A German study on scooters, “Shared e-scooters – paving the road ahead”, has many interesting things to say about the scooter phenomena. Next month, hire scooters will be available in the ACT. Who is likely to use these? Here is what we found out.

Hire bike and scooter companies have provided useful data on active travel. We know hire schemes are used spontaneously. Nobody leaves home at night planning to hire a bike or scooter to get around the city. This has meant the success of these schemes has depended on availability. The scooter must be there when you need it.

Most cyclists get pretty attached to their bikes and the idea of hiring a scooter or bike is questionable. Studies have shown that frequent bike users often do not consider combining riding a bike with other modes of active travel such as public transport.

A rider has a special relationship with the steed and should not be messed with. True for cyclists, too. Photo by Pixabay on

Shared e-scooters – paving the road ahead

Here are interesting things to know about scooters.

  1. Male, wealthy, well educated

“Studies have found scooter riders internationally to be disproportionately male (66 percent of all local respondents in France, and 80 percent of daily riders), young (31 percent of local respondents in Portland were in their twenties), higher-income (about two-thirds of respondents in San Francisco reported income over $100,000 per year, and only nine percent were low-income), and well-educated (over 65 percent of respondents in Portland had at least a college/4-year degree).”

Shared e-scooters – paving the road ahead, Agora Verkehrswende, 2019, page 12

2. Multi-model trips

“In San Francisco, 34 percent of surveyed scooter riders reported
that their most recent trip was multi-modal to or from public transit, 28 percent stated that they would not have used transit at all but for the presence of an e-scooter.”

Shared e-scooters – paving the road ahead, Agora Verkehrswende, 2019, page 14

“In France, meanwhile, 15 percent of respondents reported that their last shared scooter trip was multi-modal to or from transit. However, six percent of riders reported using public transportation less frequently overall since the introduction of e-scooters,”

Shared e-scooters – paving the road ahead, Agora Verkehrswende, 2019, page 14

3. Electric yes but not carbon-free

Scooters are collected from the streets and charged overnight. A fleet of vehicles do this.

“Data from one US city show that roughly half a mile in fleet management (operations) travel is required per mile of end-user scooter travel in that location. Meanwhile, a study in Raleigh,North Carolina found that each scooter requires roughly 0.6 to 2.5 miles of operational vehicle travel daily for collection and rebalancing. Given the local automobile mix, the study authors calculated that this mileage accounts for approximately 43 percent of Raleigh e-scooter lifecycle emissions, or nearly 90g CO2-eq per scooter mile ridden.”

Shared e-scooters – paving the road ahead, Agora Verkehrswende, 2019, page 17

4. Scooters will make the bike paths more crowded

“No matter their ultimate modal share, e-scooters can only add to the existing need to massively expand and enhance bicycle infrastructure in order to increase availability, quality, and safety; serve a growing diversity of bicycle types; and meet capacity needs as communities strive to increase the modal share of bicycles. For example, existing infrastructure in Germany is often too narrow to accommodate traffic flow and allow riders to pass one another. This deficiency is of increasing importance given the growing mix of traditional bicycles, e-scooters, delivery vehicles, family cargo bikes, and e-bikes – all of which may be ridden at different speeds. And because e-scooters are more sensitive to road surface than bicycles, it is important for both comfort and safety to maintain smooth road surfaces that are free of tree roots, potholes, and even sharp curbs at intersections.”

Shared e-scooters – paving the road ahead, Agora Verkehrswende, 2019, page 35

5. Pedestrians use scooters but cyclist do not

The graph below tells the story. In France, hardly any cyclists (approx. 4%) preferred to use a scooter. The vast majority, almost 50%, where pedestrians that used a scooter instead.

Shared e-scooters – paving the road ahead, Agora Verkehrswende, 2019, page 11

Scooters are likely to be popular but not with cyclists. 🙂

Photo by Brett Sayles on
Electric hire scooter scheme. Photo by Brett Sayles on

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