How green are the e-scooters?

The electric scooter boom

Anyone who lives in a city or near a college campus has probably seen portable e-scooters. Designed for commuting or short-distance travel, e-scooters or kick e-scooters have a small electric motor and deck on which a single person stands. Sharing ride share companies rent out e-scooters by the minute, and riders leave them at their final destination to be claimed by the next user or picked up later for charging.

In 2017 these programs were rare, but in 2018 riders took an estimated 38.5 million trips on e-scooters. The scooters are great at filling a singular niche for some people, solving the “last mile problem” – the last leg of a trip, which sometimes can be the most difficult, since it may mean walking home from a bus stop or train station. Scooters are an alternative to driving and parking a personal automobile, and often are cheaper than a taxi or Uber.

“Your ride was carbon free” – really?

The transportation sector generates nearly one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and a large share of smog and asthma-inducing pollutants. With no tailpipes to spew emissions, it would be easy to assume that shared e-scooters are an environmentally preferable option. Rent e-scooter companies often tout the environmental benefits of their “carbon-free” and “earth-friendly” rides

last mile problem, portable foldable kick adult scooter

Hidden impacts

Sharing e-scooter companies employ independent contractors to collect, charge and redistribute the scooters to desirable locations.

These collectors typically drive their personal automobiles to round up as many scooters as they can, then charge them at home and return them the next day. The logistics are not optimized, which leads to unnecessary driving on the hunt for scooters. This mileage can generate over 40% of the total environmental impacts of e-scooter use. Therefore, owning a portable e-scooter is much greener than sharing it since the owner will carry it and look for more sustainable ways than hire scooter hunters.

In contrast, powering e-scooters requires relatively little energy. Charging a fully depleted e-scooter battery uses about as much electricity as running an average clothes dryer for five minutes. And most sharing e-scooter batteries are nowhere near fully depleted when picked up, particularly in cities that require companies to remove scooters from the streets each night.

Vancouver’s plan to achieve carbon-free transportation by 2050 includes urban design and mobility pricing as well as vehicle choices.

Other ways to get there

Driving a car is almost always less environmentally friendly than using a personal e-scooter. When only one-third of e-scooter rides displace automobile travel, then the use of e-scooters likely increases overall transportation emissions by drawing people away from walking, biking or taking public transit.

There are several ways to make these scooters more sustainable. Using portable e-scooters that are designed to be more durable can reduce environmental impacts from the materials used to build them on a per-mile traveled basis.

Instead of sharing a sharing e-scooter you will be doing a much greener choice if buying one and using it as a part of your commuter transportation mode since most of the carbon footprint comes from the fact that the shared scooters are being gathered by "dirty" vehicles. If you decide to go ahead and buy a durable, cost effective, durable scooter, you can visit our store (https://www.urboscooters.com/collections/urbo-scooters) and we will be glad to answer you any additional question you may have.


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