In 2018, nearly 40 million electric scooter rides were taken in the US alone. This statistic only applies to rideshare scooter rides, such as Bird or Lime. It does not include rides taken by privately-owned electric scooters. Therefore, it’s safe to say that in total, well over 40 million electric scooter rides were taken that year.
The reasons for the tremendous popularity of electric kick scooters could be many. There is, however, a single most important factor that has led to the eScooter boom – it is the “ease of use”.
Ultimately, “Ease of Use” Wins
Nowadays, when it comes to transportation, there’s an endless number of personal mobility devices that can take you from Point A to Point B within any given city.
Undoubtedly an extremely popular mode of transportation. Man-powered, electric, dockable or dockless – chances are you’ve ridden or at least seen them all.
It’s safe to say that almost everybody knows how to ride a bicycle. So, jumping on a bicycle and getting yourself to a destination of your choice should be simple and fun.
Without a doubt, bicycles offer many advantages, but they do have a single drawback that is holding them back. They are big, for this reason they are not as easily manoeuvrable around the city as electric scooters.
The size of bicycles also limits the number of places where they can be parked. They certainly can’t be easily left anywhere you would want to.
Personal hoverboards have been around for a few years. They’re light, relatively inexpensive and very fun to ride. Unfortunately, they have a few drawbacks that may be holding their popularity down.
Due to the nature of their design, hoverboards must rely on relatively small batteries which severely limit their range. Another important factor is the fact that in order to ride a hoverboard, you must first learn to ride it. It is not difficult, but it’s certainly not something that most people know how to do, such as riding a bicycle.
Hoverboards also have a limited weight-carrying capacity. If you’ll put too much weight on a hoverboard, it won’t move anywhere. It’s as simple as that.
All these factors make it highly unlikely for them to ever become mainstream.
Mopeds and seat-on scooters
Mopeds and traditional scooters with a seat, similar to a motorcycle, have been around for many decades. They used to be more popular in the past, but are still commonly used in certain locations. They are a great mode of transportation to do quick shopping at the farmer’s market or go to the beach.
Mopeds are relatively fast and fun to ride. You can’t ride them on the sidewalk, instead you have to ride on the street along with the cars. This makes them less of a choice for a quick, last-mile trip to your destination.
There are rideshare services that offer these types of scooters. However, most of these scooters are used for relatively longer-distance trips across town, for which using an electric kick scooter would be too cumbersome.
Another factor that may possibly be keeping down the popularity of these scooters is the fact that not everyone will feel open to the idea of riding on the street next to cars and trucks.
Electric kick scooters
Imagine a relatively small personal transportation vehicle that is light, easily manoeuvrable, can carry somewhat higher weight loads, and is very easy to hop on/off. In addition to all that, it is also really fun to ride.
Since it’s relatively small, you can leave it practically anywhere without having to look for a parking spot or some other form of a designated storage area. This small size also means that electric scooters are available almost everywhere, which makes it easy and tempting to hop on one without having to even specifically look for one.
Electric scooters are very easy to use. Unlike Segway, hover boards or mopeds, kick scooters are super easy to use. Almost everyone will know how to ride one almost intuitively.
I remember my first time when I rented an eScooter. I was a bit anxious for about 10 seconds. I tried lifting it to get a better feel of it and then hopped on without any problems. After about 2 minutes of riding I felt relaxed and no longer anxious. Learning to ride an electric scooter was intuitive and super easy. With a little dose of imagination I can even imagine my mother riding one to the local grocery store.
Besides the fact that the scooter took me to where I wanted to go in no time, the ride was fun, too. I can see myself riding a scooter for the pure joy of it.
The fact that they are super easy to use and are parked almost everywhere, makes electric scooters so popular.
Let’s take, for example, my recent trip to Vienna, Austria. My apartment was located about 700 meters (less than half a mile) from the closest subway station. Every morning when leaving my apartment building, I had a couple of options of getting to the subway: 1) walk by foot, 2) call taxi or order Uber, 3) hop on a Circ or Lime scooter parked right by the main entrance of the building.
Well, I did walk quite a few times simply because I do like to move around using my own muscles, but since the weather was very hot those days (36C [97F]) I wasn’t particularly thrilled to be out in the sun for any much longer than I needed to be.
I never called taxi, nor have I used Uber simply because I would have to wait 8 to 10 minutes for the car to get to my location, then explain to the driver that I only need to go half a mile. That just doesn’t sound ok.
I gotta say that I took the scooter about as many times as I walked on foot. Each time I saw the scooter parked just outside the building entrance, I had an urge to simply scan, hop on and ride to the subway station.
Renting a scooter was nearly as seamless as walking to the station by foot. I would also be more likely to hop on the scooter on days when I was running a bit late.
Then, at the end of the day as I was coming back to the apartment, five or six electric scooters would always be parked by the subway station, waiting to take me home. And you know what? I was even more likely to hop on one of them and ride straight home.
Initially, the answer to the question as to why have electric scooters become so popular may not be apparent. However, after carefully considering the pros and cons of each of the major competitors to electric kick scooters, it becomes quite clear why the electric scooter has won.
- Easy to hop on
- Easy to maneuver
- Can take relatively much weight
- Can be parked almost anywhere
It all comes down to the broad idea of “ease of use”.