I now know what all the fuss is about. Yesterday I rode a dockless (Lime) scooter for the first time. I took in lieu of an Uber in order to get to the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT) on Lisbon’s waterfront.
Here’s another photo from my ride:
We don’t have these scooters in Toronto, but I understand they are imminent. And now that I’ve used one — and learned how shockingly fun they are — I can see why they are proliferating across so many cities.
They’re a solution to the last mile problem, but they’re also fast enough (20 km/h) that they can be a substitute for other forms of urban mobility, as was the case for me yesterday. I can also see myself using one to get to the office when I would rather not sweat through my suit.
Of course, there is the much talked about problem of scooters as urban litter. It’s a real thing and I am seeing that firsthand here in Lisbon. Because they are dockless, people leave them anywhere and everywhere. At the same time, part of what makes them so convenient is that, well, you can leave them anywhere and everywhere.
I’m confident there’s a tidier solution that doesn’t involve fixed docking stations. Geofencing, perhaps? Cars are “dockless” and we’ve sort of figured that out. Many cities are already working on and experimenting with different solutions. Here’s an example from Tel Aviv. I have also noticed a natural clustering effect.
I’m not sure how good of a business they will prove to be. The barriers to entry seem fairly low right now. You just need some Chinese scooters and an app, which is why I am noticing so many competing companies. But as the market matures, increased regulation could change this.
We are going through a period of growing pains and it’s not particularly elegant. However, I believe we’ll get there. So I am looking forward to riding these scooters when they do finally land in Toronto.