If you live in Christchurch or Auckland and have spent some time wandering the city centre, you might have noticed a smiling and giddy adult riding what appears to be a fast moving scooter through the streets. This fanciful new trend is taking the big cities of New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As they zipped by you, you likely were wondering what on earth they are and how they came to be. Let’s take a look through the what, how, where, who and why these delightful and zooming scooters are suddenly a craze all around us.

What are they

Electric scooters are just as they sound – a scooter that uses a battery charged by electricity. A result of an electric scooter means you don’t need to work nearly as hard or hard at all to scoot along, and the scooter will essentially propel you through the streets. Naturally this comes with some dangers, as we’ll go into more detail below.

How do they work

With Lime in particular, you simply need to download the app on your mobile device to unlock the scooter. To find a nearby scooter, you would pull up the app and search on the map for the nearest one. You’ll scan the QR code on the scooter with your app, and away you go. The ease of app is a very appealing part of companies like Lime, and makes it easy to get on and get going.

The scooters are fairly safe for many reasons. First, most electric scooters have a cap on their speed. The government in NZ is looking at putting further restrictions on the speed cap, as other countries and regions have. This means you can’t take them down onto the highway and risk your life and others around you. Second, most areas require that you ride your scooter on a cycle pathway, or on a safe place in the street. This is for the pedestrian safety as well as your own. Third, because you’re quite low to the ground, you can easily stop by hopping off the scooter, or on some scooters, applying the handbrake. Either way, you’re sure to be able to stop quickly and easily in case of an emergency.

They do have their safety downfalls, however, and must be thought of when embarking on a scooter ride. First, like with any moving vehicle, a helmet is essential in case of a fall. Considering you aren’t strapped in, and you certainly don’t have an airbag to protect you, it’s vital that you wear a helmet at all times. In some cities, you might even be breaking a law if you don’t, so make sure you are up to date with your area’s rules and regulations.

Where are they used

Electric scooters are taking over some big cities across several countries such as the United States and New Zealand. In New Zealand, the company Lime has transported a shipping container full of hundreds of their scooters in Christchurch and Auckland, with plans to roll out even more in each city. In the USA, cities all over the country have several scooter companies bidding for users and gearing up their electric forklifts to transport them to popular areas.

Who uses them

Believe it or not, scooters are being used by everyone! This study breaks it down a bit further, but in general terms, women are a bit more likely to enjoy and use e-scooters than men, and those making up to $50,000 USD are more likely to feel positively towards them than people making over $200,000. The scooters are typically placed in quite touristy areas, which will obviously appeal to tourists, but are also being used by city residents. The target demographic is definitely young millenials, who will more easily transition to an alternative form of transportation than older generations.

Why are they trending

So what’s the big deal, anyway? Aren’t scooters for kids? The ease of scooters is clearly one of the biggest reasons as to why they’re so popular. Whether you own a car or have transportation available or not, the simplicity of scanning a code and being on your way is really enticing. No need for an oil and filter change, and no need for routine maintenance or changing a tyre, they’re perfect for those of us who hate the responsibility of a vehicle. Some cities want them because they’re small, easy to transport in bulk with an electric forklift truck, for example, and get people out and about.

Electric scooters don’t use petrol, so they’re more environmentally friendly as well. Considering all of the recent reports surrounding climate change, the focus on cutting back on harmful emissions will continue to be strong, and the everyday commuter will be paying more attention to their environmental footprint. E-scooter ride shares are an easy way to not have to purchase regular public transportation tickets, own a car, or even have to work up a sweat to get to work!

Several of the electric scooter ride sharing companies follow the example of companies like Uber, which is more of a launch now, ask for forgiveness later type of business. The scooter sharing world will likely struggle with city regulations in each city they launch in, which may stifle growth as every city has different rules. The positive of this approach has been that most cities have allowed the companies in eventually, even if proper permits weren’t acquired first.

This approach has also meant that the electric scooter is popular before city governments even have a chance to look into them, which means they have to consider the public’s response to them as well. This tricky way of introducing a product means that e-scooters have been more successful than they might have been, and are here to stay for a while longer. So, hop on one and give them a whirl!

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