Electric scooters are a trend, as we mentioned before. But now, scooters are a bit too much of a trend in San Francisco, where people are calling for regulation. Why? Because sharing-services like Bird are flooding the streets with their scooters, and people are getting scared of being overrun. Or, as Vanity Fair calls it: “WHEELMAGEDDON”. What caused this trend, how does it work and will it succeed?
There’s no denying vehicle sharing is a startup-wonderland. That’s probably why startups like Bird, Spin and Limebike have raised huge amounts of investment capital. There’s money to be made, and that’s probably why big guys like Uber are also getting on the wave with an electric bike sharing add-on.
What did Bird, Spin and Limebike raise on their investment rounds? Hope you are sitting tight, because here come the numbers:
- Bird raised a total of $115 million dollar (from Crunchbase)
- Spin raised a total of $8 million dollar (from Crunchbase)
- Limebike raised a total of $132 million dollar (from Crunchbase)
Even though Uber and Lyft is everywhere, and last time I checked people can still walk, there is a huge need in terms of mobility. And this scootering-trend confirms this once and for all.
How does scooter-sharing work?
All the scooter-sharing services work in a quite similar way, and even though we’re not in San Francisco to test it, it seems pretty easy. There’s always a one-two-three, being:
It’s noticeable how flexible the services are. Parking can be done anywhere, which makes it that much easier for users to use them. Plus, the costs are really low, which make the scooters and bikes that much more interesting on campuses. Spin, for example, is really making its way into University-life. Plus plus: It’s green. And even though there seems to be no downside, there is.
Because the services operate in a legal gray area – not being public transport and not being a road vehicle – people call for regulations. And the reason is simple: people are getting run over with scooters. Yes, it’s a thing. The electric scooter trend just hit the streets, and they hit a bit too hard:
A few weeks ago, I had not noticed any electric scooters in SF. Now you can’t exit a building without tripping over one.
— M.G. Siegler (@mgsiegler) April 2, 2018
Therefore, San Francisco is already going to regulate these services, as Techcrunch reports.
Judging from reactions on Twitter, it seems people wouldn’t mind a bit less scootering:
Just witnessed someone on a Bird scooter slam into a group of pedestrians at high speed on a sidewalk. Terrifying!! How is this safe @BirdRide ?? Do we have to treat our sidewalks like roads now?
— Mallory Jansen (@MalloryJansen) March 31, 2018
Anyone else in SF feel like they’re in a game of human Frogger trying not to get run over by these @birdride scooters? #wheelmageddon pic.twitter.com/ZSRamTvHNB
— Nicole Zingg (@nicozingg) April 5, 2018
It’s not only negative though:
Bird is the word – literally tech is working to solve real transit last mile issues and media freaks out. https://t.co/0zEKcB3H7c #waroncars #wheelmageddon #movefastandbreakthings @StevTuesDay @MeganRoehl @VTA
— Vince Rocha (@MrVinceRocha) April 6, 2018
In my opinion, scooter-sharing is here to stay. But there is a downside to these huge venture capital startups that flood the streets with their product: they need to slow down. Literally flooding the streets with your service can do great harm to your reputation, as we’re already seeing from some reactions on Twitter. There’s some overlooked aspects that need attention: regulation, safety and space. Things that could’ve easily be tested in smaller groups of users.
Personally, I’m looking forward to sharing scooters in my hometown. Just not too many.