Scooter Frenzy Causing Cluttered City Streets

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1Q 2020 | IN-5760

Scooter sharing has boomed within the micro-mobility industry since 2017. In 2018, larger service operators expanded their markets to international cities. America-based companies Lime and Bird both branched out and offered their services, which are rolled out with a dockless infrastructure, in several European cities.

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Lock and Charging the Future of Electric Scooters


Metro Mobility, an electric scooter sharing service operator based in Massachusetts, has created a new lock and charge system for its electric sharing scooters, helping address global concerns about the consequences of the dockless business models. Dockless models cause lots of streets to become littered with vehicles—not only scooters, but also bikes. The infrastructure is said to be quick and easy to install, and also offers a more sustainable method for the upkeep of operators’ fleets.

Clearing up the Streets with Sustainability


Micro-mobility’s dockless nature, though arguably the best way forward as far as convenience for end users, has created a whirlwind of vehicles being abandoned on street corners. This not only makes cities’ streets look cluttered and unorganized, but it can also create obstacles for those wishing to walk on the sidewalk. The introduction of dock and charging stations means that the issue of disorganization and cluttered streets will be tackled and resolved; streets will become significantly less cluttered, especially if similar systems are employed by the larger scooter operators with larger fleets.

One issue that has arisen due to dockless infrastructures is the emissions created due to the scooters’ relocation and collection drivers. Introducing charging docking stations, however, reduces the number of vans that are required to pick scooters up to charge and relocate them. Additionally, the locking nature of a docked system will reduce the effects of theft and vandalism on the fleets, allowing the scooters to have a longer lifespan. 

Service providers also need to consider the efficiency of their charging strategies. One method used for ensuring fleets are constantly fully charged is the swappable battery method: staff members locate scooters with low batteries, swap those low batteries with fully charged ones, and then go and charge the low batteries. This allows vehicles to be constantly monetized, thereby enabling maximum ridership.

Finding the Happy Medium


Ultimately, though charging and docking stations solve the problem of congested and unorganized streets, they don’t allow operators to run their fleets optimally. Though the stations enable instant charging as soon as a trip is completed, because connecting the charger to the scooter ends the transaction, it doesn’t instantly monetize the asset, whereas using a swappable battery method does. However, the last-mile usage of micro-mobility as a whole is convenient when using a dockless system. End users wish for a convenient method to take their “last mile,” which requires vehicles to be readily available at any location.

ABI Research forecasts that, by 2026, sharing operators will have made over 4 million electric kick scooters available for use around the world. Encouraging the use of the new charging docks would minimize the number of scooters found left on street corners and in other inappropriate places and therefore limit complaints by both city officials and those among the general public who do not use the sharing systems. This system has advantages and disadvantages for both end users and service operators. Ultimately, the end goal for the service operator, being a business, is to become profitable, and therefore operators need to really consider whether or not adopting such docks would be beneficial for them.    

Operating fleets in both zones that have a constant use and those with low-level ridership would benefit from using a combination of the dockless and docked models so that operators are able to maintain a sustainable business model. The combination would make the scooters constantly ready for use where and when they are required. Busier locations would benefit more from a swappable battery strategy that enables more rides due to constant monetization, and quieter locations would benefit more from flexible charging.