Electric scooters
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Electric scooters
Electrified scooters are everywhere, helping solve basic transport woes. So what should we make of them?

Dockless electrified scooters. In many cities around the world, you could find one discarded outside your coffee shop of choice, the campus of your university, on the shelf at your grocery store or somewhere in the middle of the ocean. The idea: just open an app, pick one up and ride away, wherever in a city you may be.

There is a lot that’s great about these modes of transport, which riders can hop on and off of – most notably, addressing that 'last-mile challenge': finding a way to complete the final leg of your journey home from a transport hub, like a train station. Riding a scooter instead of taking even a shared car ride is beneficial for reducing emissions and road congestion, and often a cost-effective way for workers to reach their destinations.

Commuters aren’t the only ones reaping benefits from this pervasive transportation; global companies including Bird and Lime have ridden their success to $1 billion-plus valuations, with plenty more companies following in their scooter tracks.

Still, although electric scooters could solve many basic transportation and resulting environmental woes, cities across the globe are pushing back on the technology: instituting bans due to scooter-related deaths and accidents, for example. Other issues have cropped up, too, including the rise of the “cutthroat” gig economy business of scooter charging, and the e-waste of carelessly discarded scooters (which seems to have the eerie early echoes of China’s bike-share graveyards). Maybe this is why we can’t have nice things.

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Image credit: Piero Zagami and Michela Nicchiotti.