Five years ago, dockless shared electric scooters began showing up nationwide. The motorized transports became immediately popular with the younger set as a way to avoid traffic jams and help with the climate change difficulty.
One year in, Bird, the largest manufacturer, skyrocketed in value from $300 million to $2 billion. However, the attention they received took a different form. Many described the e-scooters as “flimsy,” with an average life span of less than one month, a contention that the company disputes with claims of up to four months.
Bird’s image also took a hit when users were reporting battery fires and brake failures, a story that the media could not resist. By August of 2018, the company’s CEO unloaded millions in his own company’s stock.
A potential new era?
The looming shadow over electric scooters remains, even with more than 200 brands. Even though they account for a minuscule number of travelers, injuries have skyrocketed with bans imposed by officials in many high-profile cities, including Manhattan. Other areas are looking to rid themselves of the risky transports.
Various companies are stepping forward to change the image of e-scootering, claiming a focus on safety via cutting-edge technology. New models are noticeably bulkier. However, features include an automatic shutdown of the engine when the scooter operator hops onto a curb, veers back and forth dangerously, or travels the wrong way on a one-way street.
E-scooters have traveled a rough road in safety and acceptance. Continued tinkering and learning from past mistakes may make a difference. However, accidents will still occur, resulting in injuries caused by negligent operation or product defects.