So apparently there's this whole trend of startups dropping piles of electric-assisted kick scooters all over major cities, using a smartphone app to rent them out, and using the Gig Economy™ to repair and charge them... and the cities rightly being up in arms about this crap being dumped on their sidewalks.

I'll ignore the disgusting parts of this Silicon Valley Disruption™... there's another problem with this whole business.

It makes not one damn bit of sense!


The entire point of a kick scooter is that it's a form of transportation that's faster/lower effort than walking for the last mile, yet the scooters can be folded to an incredibly small size and taken with you.

Short-term bicycle rental makes sense - bicycles are bulky yet easily stolen, so having access to bicycles that you don't have to worry about is genuinely valuable.

But kick scooters? The whole point of a kick scooter over a bicycle is that you can take it with you reasonably!

Especially when you consider the pricing models of these companies - if you use them regularly, at a few bucks per ride in practice (one review I recently read claimed $3.20 for a 1 mile round trip, between per-minute charges and unlock charges), you could just... buy one before too long.

(And, apparently at those prices, the scooter companies are still losing money. Vandalism and theft probably aren't helping, but...)

I mean, the exact model that a couple of these scooter companies are using, the Xiaomi M365, can be had for $400 it looks like.

So if you actually use these things every day for last-mile trips, you'd have enough to buy your own in half a year.

I don't have a problem with electric kick scooters, but I really, really, *REALLY* don't get the business model for "sharing" (short-term renting) them.

@bhtooefr I agree that the business model is mind-boggling, but expecting folks to carry around nearly 30 lb / 14 kg of electric scooter is a big, big ask. That's backpack weight.

@jond True, although not all of them are that heavy, and a strap could go a long way towards making them more portable.

@bhtooefr over here (UK) many of these things definitely *are* classed as "vehicles that need approval/license", a chap in my town was stopped by cops and put before the Court for riding one just recently!

He had been smoking pot *and* that model is a bit faster than is safe to use on the street where he got trouble, unlike bicycles and e-bikes they are not as welcome on streets (as they are also even more likely to be ridden on the pavement (sidewalk))

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@bhtooefr I guess we should be lucky that those things are illegal here, so they can't even try. And it's not just a bit illegal, it's "driving an unlicensed motor vehicle", which is like felony-illegal, you'd also be charged with driving without an insurance and if they somehow manage to declare it an (unlicensed) motorcycle, also driving without a license. So if you're unlucky it's upwards of 10k€ in fines and a driving ban of a year or so.


a similar legal situation in the UK, and someone in my own town already got nicked for riding on one (link to the news article is in a previous toot in this thread)


@vfrmedia @halfur Looks like in my state, Ohio, it's a minor misdemeanor, I think, to not display license plates. (It's a motor vehicle, but not one that fits into any class, in Ohio.)

Oddly, there is a law declaring that "electric personal assistive mobility devices" are legal and are not vehicles, but can be operated on public streets, highways, sidewalks, paths, and portions of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. (EPAMDs are Segways, up to 750 W, up to 20 mph.)

@vfrmedia @halfur Meanwhile, 750 W/20 mph e-bikes fit perfectly into the motorized bicycle class (which are not motor vehicles but are vehicles, require registration and licensing, but can't use any bicycling infrastructure, and that class is weirdly restrictive - they need wider tires than most e-bikes, and tadpole trikes are forbidden (but deltas are allowed)), and electric kick scooters are motor vehicles that don't fit into any other class.

@bhtooefr @vfrmedia @halfur Here it's: Does it have a seat (and is not a segway)? It's not allowed on public roads. Does it go less than 5kph? It can drive on the sidewalk, needs insurance though, so does everything above this class. Does it go up to 25kph? It's a moped and must be driven on the street, but you can get a license for it once you're 15 (making it the earliest motor vehicle for many). Does it go up to 45kph? It's a scooter and can be driven with a car or motorcycle license.

@bhtooefr @vfrmedia Anything over 45kph needs a vehicle registration, needs TÜV (biennial thorough vehicle check), you have to pay taxes, a much more expensive insurance, and a specific motorcycle license. That's why the 45kph class is so common over here. Cheap (34€ insurance annually) and can be driven with the standard car driving license. My electric scooter falls into this category, and I love this thing. Have to keep off any cycle paths though.

@halfur @bhtooefr law in England and Wales and Scotland is now very similar to Germany (we are still in the EU for a couple of years and traffic laws are unlikely to change after Brexit), but electric scooters aren't that common (especially for younger people they feel if they have had to go through the driving test they want a car or larger motorcycle)

@vfrmedia @halfur In the US, it's a patchwork of legislation.

Some states, almost nothing electrified is legal unless it fits into moped or motorcycle registration. (A 45 km/h European moped is a full-on motorcycle in my state, for instance, except for being unable to access freeways.)

Some states, if it's under 150 cc it's legal without registration.

(The norm in most US states is 50 cc or less, 30 mph or less, as being the moped class, and many don't require a license or registration.)

@bhtooefr @halfur we do have a bizzare anomaly in UK where even 25 km/h pedelecs in *Northern ireland only* require moped licensing.

This isn't even because of road safety but the devolved govt after the peace process stalled (again) due to other political disputes so there isn't a sitting Assembly that can change the traffic law (even though they want to!)

@vfrmedia @bhtooefr Oh dear.

Pedelecs are an entirely different ordeal here. The engine is only allowed to support the pedalling, and only up to 25kph. Those don't need any registration or insurance. There are also things called S-Pedelec, which can go up to 45 (20 without pedalling), but they're essentially scooters, so no bike lanes either. The only difference is that you don't require a full helmet on those. A (45kph certified) bike helmet suffices.

@halfur @bhtooefr the S-pedelec is (just about) tolerated in England, Wales and Scotland, it does require same licensing as other mopeds and scooters.

it took quite a while for the DVSA to decide how to register one (added to which the license plates here are usually too big for the mounting hardware supplied with German models).

There were/are also mostly middle aged men riding them (illegally) in cities like London, they are usually left alone but some have got in trouble..

@vfrmedia @bhtooefr Yeah, we have these weird, really small insurance plates for everything up to the scooter class. It's not a real German license plate, not centrally registered, it's just a proof of insurance. Need to change them every year though. They're colour coded, so it's visible when the insurance ran out.

@halfur @bhtooefr the Netherlands have these too (as quite logically S-Pedelecs are now allowed there, after all cycling between the two nations is perfectly feasible).

Currently DVSA (UK) isn't willing to budge on the number plate issue (treating them as full scale mopeds), and its of course unclear what would happen after Brexit..

@vfrmedia @bhtooefr They're rather uncommon here as well. I keep getting questions about it. But it's insanely cheap (I think I spent about 1.50€ on electricity for it over the last two weeks), and I don't have all the hassle of driving an unlicensed vehicle. I was actually about to buy one of those kick scooters, but decided I wouldn't want to carry the risk all the time. Got it dirt cheap as it was broken, repaired it, replaced the batteries, and now I'm insanely happy about it.

@halfur @vfrmedia TBH, I just wish there were a good one capable of keeping up with 40 MPH traffic and with removable batteries (for recharging off the bike) in the US market.

(I've got a Honda Helix that I need to start riding - and got in anticipation of something better than what's currently on the US market coming - but that's a 250 cc gas engine.)

@halfur @vfrmedia The closest I'm aware of is the GenZe 2.0, which is just too slow for many US traffic conditions - it's limited to 30 mph.

@halfur @vfrmedia TBH I actually wonder how bad a conversion of the Helix would be, especially with a rear hub motor. Battery could drop down in the seat area, and then put something where the gas tank went?

@bhtooefr @vfrmedia That is essentially how my scooter is designed.

@bhtooefr @vfrmedia And I meant to write "Does it not have a seat." Anything with a motor needs a seat. There's a special exception for Segways though. They are classed as Moped / 25kph.

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