New Study Shows Cities Benefit From Scooters If They Embrace Their Potential

NetChoice Releases Research Paper on the Harms of Scooter Discrimination


January 14, 2020


WASHINGTON – NetChoice, a trade association committed to fighting for free enterprise and free expression online, today released a report on the benefits of the influx of portable and easy to use scooters, and the discriminatory actions by localities that make the efficient mode of transportation more difficult to access by consumers.

This report shows that while scooters provide both a budget and environmentally friendly mode of transportation, localities are imposing discriminatory restrictions that will harm consumers’ access to this preferred mode of transportation.

“Our study is vital reading for cities wondering how scooters can be integrated into city transit systems, providing both strong examples of how scooters help low-income residents, and where harmful discrimination against scooters have hurt transportation choice of local residents,” said Carl Szabo, Vice Presdient and General Counsel of NetChoice.

“The discrimination highlighted in the report is the same techno-panic that bicycles faced 100 years ago, and soon we will look back at restrictions on scooters and laugh at their absurdity due to the clear benefit they provide to communities, riders, and the environment.”

According to the NetChoice study, scooters are a popular and valuable alternative to cars, and complement public transit:

  • In 2018, Americans engaged in more than 38 million trips using shared scooters.
  • 70% of people in major U.S. cities view scooters favorably, as they provide a new competitive transit choice for city residents.
  • 40% of shared scooter users in San Francisco combine their use with public transit. 
  • 65% of Lime scooter customers used scooters to replace their use of cars.

Key statistics and analysis in the report show the following:

Localities engage in systemic discrimination of transportation by scooters:

  • Arbitrary caps on the number of shared scooters available
  • Discriminatory and dangerous speed limitations on shared scooters — as low as 3mph
  • Curfews prohibiting riding after 7pm
  • Requiring sharing companies to turn over names of riders to the city 
  • Outright bans on operation

Safety concerns should not deter cities from embracing scooters:

  • Bird scooter customers, for example, reported injuries in less than 0.01% of all trips.
  • Safety concerns about scooters are not applied to bike usage, leading to unfair speed and use restrictions.
  • Shared scooter providers ensure that riders agree to abide by all local traffic laws and ask them to wear helmets.

 Key strategies can greatly improve scooter integration into city transit systems:

  • Equally applying rules to similar modes of transit, meaning shared scooters shouldn’t be regulated differently than shared bikes.
  • Pilot programs must be time-limited, and scooter regulation should allow for true testing of supply and demand, such as through flexible fleet size caps.

The full report can be found here.

About NetChoice

NetChoice is a trade association fighting to protect free expression and free enterprise online.