Electric Scooters for Urban vs. Suburban Environments
Since Lime and Bird introduced dockless e-scooters for hire, e-scooter use for both shared and private rides has steadily increased. Today, data projects that the e-scooter-sharing industry will reach $1,848 million in 2023.
However, how did e-scooter impact urban transportation since its conception? Moreover, are they practical options for suburban environments?
E-scooters have proven various benefits and concerns in the past decade. This article explores how electric scooters have affected cities and suburbs since their increase in popularity.
How Electric Scooters Impact Urban Environments
E-scooters were designed to fit the urban environment. Its lightweight and portable size make it an efficient and practical individual ride for commuters who need an affordable transport option.
In recent years, increased e-scooter usage globally has proven the micro-mobility device’s benefits and disadvantages. Here are some benefits and challenges of electric scooters in urban environments.
The Benefits of E-scooters in Cities
Electric scooters come with various perks for individuals and the city. Here are some of its major perks.
Congestion happens when the traffic flow breaks, vehicle speed reduces, and roads become crowded due to exceeding the road’s capacity. Micro-mobility devices, such as e-scooters, e-bikes, e-skateboards, and other e-rides, aim to solve this city road congestion by providing an alternative transport option that doesn’t clog the streets.
Many shared and private e-scooters have replaced car trips, helping reduce road traffic. It's thanks to their compact bodies that allow riders to take alternative routes and bypass traffic on main roads.
Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Many cities globally have taken action to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and part of the initiative is introducing greener transportation options.
E-scooters and other micro-mobility devices help lower emissions since they don’t emit any harmful gases. A study by shared e-scooter ride Lime found that their e-scooters prevented over 330 tons of carbon dioxide emissions within a year of operating in Paris.
Although there have been debates on the total emissions of e-scooters throughout their life cycle, e-scooters still have a lower carbon emission per passenger mile (202 g of CO2) than cars (415 g of CO2), making e-scooters a greener option.
Provide a Low-Cost Transportation Option
As market prices and fuel surges continue to increase, electric scooters offer city dwellers a cost-effective alternative to transportation.
Since it doesn’t use fuel, it eliminates the need to pay for fuel. Plus, private e-scooters cost significantly cheaper than a car. A new sedan in Australia costs an average of $45,728, while a commuter electric scooter costs around $600 to $2,000.
Other fees that riders no longer have to pay include insurance (although they’re recommended), registration, parking, and high maintenance fees. Overall, individuals can save more on transportation costs using shared or private e-scooters.
The Concerns Regarding E-scooters in Cities
Despite the benefits of electric scooters in urban areas, they still pose risks and challenges to cities. Here are two of them.
Safety of Riders and Pedestrians
As with any vehicle and micro-mobility device, safety is a major concern. Since the rise of shared e-scooter schemes in cities, many report rider and pedestrian accidents. One research also found that e-scooter riders had more injuries per mile than cyclists and were more likely to get injured due to potholes, lampposts, signposts, and pavement cracks.
Cities are trying to resolve safety concerns by enforcing strict e-scooter laws in Australia. Legislators are also looking into increased rider education to help them know where and how to ride safely in public. Many e-scooter trials have been extended to see further the impact of e-scooters and their laws on cities and commuters.
Theft, Speeding, and Irresponsible Parking
Unfortunately, despite the e-scooter laws, there are still reports of e-scooter theft, speeding, and irresponsible parking. It’s one of the aspects that's difficult to regulate for legislators, but many councils in Australia are working with the police to enforce and strengthen e-scooter laws.
In response, legislators also implemented heftier penalties and fees for those caught disobeying e-scooter laws. For example, exceeding 25 kph on bicycle paths, carriageways, and shared paths in WA incurs a penalty of $100. Meanwhile, unlawful use of a mobile phone while riding has a penalty of $500 to $1,000.
How Electric Scooters Impact Suburban Environments
As e-scooters became more widespread in cities, shared e-scooter schemes entered the suburbs. Here are the positive and negative effects of e-scooters in suburban environments.
The Benefits of E-scooters in Suburban Environments
E-scooters offer suburban areas with practical, low-cost transportation fit for people’s lifestyles. Here are just some of the perks of having e-scooters in the suburbs.
Provide More Transportation Options
Suburban transportation includes fewer modes of transport than the city, resulting in locals having less access to public transportation. However, e-scooters resolve this commuting pain point by providing locals with a low-cost, point-to-point ride.
With just a few swipes on an app, locals can rent an e-scooter to go to work, school, parks, and more. Those who own an electric scooter also have the convenience of having a ride anytime for short trips. Also, e-scooters resolve the first and last-mile problems some commuters face in the suburbs, especially when going to the city.
Increasing transportation options in suburban areas can attract more visitors and improve tourism and business opportunities. A study found that e-scooters contribute $13.8 million of additional sales to food and beverage stores.
Besides this, having shared e-scooter schemes in the suburbs brings more job opportunities to locals as e-scooter operators will need to hire locals to manage and maintain the e-scooters. Overall, e-scooters bring economic benefits to suburban communities.
Create Vibrant Communities
Lastly, e-scooters empower suburban residents to take short trips when needed, save money on transportation and fuel, and reduce their carbon footprint. It also encourages locals to get out and see the area, encouraging a more vibrant and connected community.
According to a Lime survey in Washington, DC, 72% of e-scooter riders visit more local shops and attractions thanks to hired e-scooters. Overall, e-scooters help create an engaged and thriving community.
The Concerns Regarding E-scooters in Suburban Environments
Here are some of the concerns with bringing e-scooters into the suburbs.
Partnering with Local Councils
As shared e-scooter companies expand to other cities, they must work with local councils to implement and regulate e-scooter laws. Most councils in Australia have recently been more open to e-scooter trials, but they’re often limited to specific cities.
Nonetheless, having the local council’s approval and cooperation is a hurdle the e-scooter community faces. However, given that e-scooters are still fairly new, it’s understandable that councils will be strict with requirements and partner with e-scooter operators to ensure the locals’ safety.
Rider and Pedestrian Safety
Again, safety is a major concern, especially with the number of e-scooter accidents and injuries in the past years. Since suburban areas have fewer infrastructures suitable for micro-mobility devices, the terrain could pose more risk to riders.
Plus, suburban areas may also need to invest in traffic signs specifically for e-scooters to guide locals and tourists, especially on speed limits and no-ride zones.
Are Electric Scooters Better for Urban or Suburban Environments?
Electric scooters offer plenty of benefits to cities and suburban areas, from efficient, low-cost trips to economic opportunities. However, using e-scooters also pose challenges in the transportation system, especially regarding safety.
But are e-scooters better suited for cities or the suburbs? Based on the perks mentioned above, e-scooters and other micro-mobility devices suit cities and suburban areas. E-scooters offer an efficient, low-cost, and eco-friendly alternative for city commuters while providing better accessibility to locals in the suburbs.
Although there’s still a long way to go to make e-scooters safer for riders and pedestrians, the pros of having e-scooters in cities and suburban environments outweigh the cons.
Ultimately, e-scooters will benefit any rider if their commuting pain points are resolved, regardless of where they reside.
If you’re looking for the best electric scooter for city rides, browse Scooteroo to see a wide range of commuter electric scooters suitable for short trips in the city.