All posts in “Scooters”

Usain Bolt promotes e-scooters in New York, where it’s illegal to ride them

The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, stood on the steps of New York City Hall on Tuesday to promote the national launch of e-scooter sharing company, Bolt Mobility.

The two Bolts share a name, so it only made sense that Bolt the company would bring Bolt the human onboard as its official brand ambassador. At the conference, standing next to Bolt the man was the company’s newly unveiled “Chariot,” a scooter model large enough to store a rider’s bags and comes complete with two cup holders. 

Bolt Mobility brand ambassador Usain Bolt poses atop the "Chariot" model e-scooter, which he could not actually legally ride at the New York press conference.

Bolt Mobility brand ambassador Usain Bolt poses atop the “Chariot” model e-scooter, which he could not actually legally ride at the New York press conference.

Image: matt binder / mashable

The Olympic gold medalist stood on the Chariot for photos, but he didn’t ride it. That’s because he can’t. E-scooters are illegal in New York.

While the conference promoted Bolt Mobility, its new line of e-scooters, and Usain Bolt’s role in a scooter sharing company, the focal point — even when it wasn’t specifically being talked about — was the scooter’s legal status. And it was clear that Bolt Mobility wanted to highlight it. Why else would a startup put together a big product launch with a world-renowned athlete on the steps of New York City Hall?

The company, along with its celebrity brand ambassador, even released a new online commercial today. The video features Usain Bolt practicing how to safely ride an e-scooter in a big city where its presumably legal. At the very beginning of the clip, a billboard clearly labels the location as New York City.

“There’s a major traffic crisis in New York City,” said Bolt co-founder and co-CEO Dr. Sarah Haynes to reporters, referencing the city’s MTA woes. “We’re excited to be able to help solve that problem in an environmentally friendly way.”

“I have run in cities all over the world, and I can tell you first hand that traffic is getting worse and worse in every city on every continent on earth,” said Bolt ambassador Usain Bolt. “The air quality is also getting worse, and I feel that now is the time that we must do something about it.”

Bolt's new "Chariot" e-scooter at the national launch in New York.

Bolt’s new “Chariot” e-scooter at the national launch in New York.

Image: matt binder / mashable

E-scooter sharing is having a moment. On the west coast, scooter companies like Bird and Lime are becoming almost as ubiquitous as Uber and Lyft. In fact, both taxi ride sharing companies are now in the scooter business as well. Uber is even interested in acquiring one of the two biggest e-scooter companies.

However, e-scooters have had their share of controversies, even where they’re legal. Injuries to riders and the fact that the scooters are dockless, leaving customers to just litter the sidewalks with e-scooters when they’re done using them, have already given this relatively young industry a bad name.

Usain Bolt and Bolt Mobility co-founder and co-CEO Dr. Sarah Haynes promote the company's national launch in front of New York City Hall.

Usain Bolt and Bolt Mobility co-founder and co-CEO Dr. Sarah Haynes promote the company’s national launch in front of New York City Hall.

Image: Matt Binder / mashable

The Miami Beach-based Bolt Mobility already has a fleet of scooters available to rent via smartphone app for 15 cents per minute in cities like Fort Lauderdale, Florida as well as in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. Bolt also launched a new website today touting how its worked with these cities to form a mutually beneficial relationship for residents and local government alike.

However, riding an e-scooter in New York, the U.S. city with the biggest and most heavily used public transit system, can result in a $500 civil penalty. The rider’s scooter will also be impounded.

But, that may soon change. Governor Andrew Cuomo now supports e-scooter legalization and the scooter companies have hired lobbyists to make sure it happens.

Speaking to press at Tuesday’s event, Bolt Mobility’s executive vice president of operations Will Nicholas made it seem like the company was hoping to curry favor with the people of New York in the legalization fight. Perhaps learning from one of Amazon’s missteps in pro-labor New York, the Bolt VP mentioned how the company would be “open-minded to New York’s labor community” in regards to the unionization of its employees.

There are currently bills at both the city and state level looking to legalize e-scooters in New York, which could very well be just months away.

“We’re on the precipice of major mobility change in this city,” said Nicholas.

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f82660%252f55f4951b 0b5c 433e 8524 550661fcba31.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=bfz8zapyyiiyou4upa9j 74ybjo=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Scooters took over SXSW and that’s only the beginning

Several scooter companies are vying for SXSW attendees.
Several scooter companies are vying for SXSW attendees.

Image: karissa bell / mashable

I thought 2015, when Meerkat dominated SXSW, would be the last year the annual tech festival turned brand extravaganza had a breakout star. Scooters have proved me wrong.

While the conversation on SXSW’s many stages has been dominated by politicians talking 2020, scooters have taken over just about everything else.

There are currently 8,403 electric scooters in Austin, according to city data. And while not all of them are in the streets and sidewalks immediately surrounding the convention center, you wouldn’t know it from walking around. 

Scooters are literally everywhere, with shared vehicles from Uber, Lyft, Bird, Lime, and Spin (and a couple of others) lining the sidewalks. Uber and Lyft have a number of employees promoting their companies’ wheels, while others in safety vests walk around and attempt the impossible task of righting all the knocked over scooters so they resemble a gleaming example of micro-mobility and not a useless pile of scooter trash.

On the roads, Austin’s cyclists and pedicab drivers fight for space in the bike lanes. Signs warn cars to watch out for “people on wheels and feet.” Police officers patrol the official “pedestrian zones,” where scooters aren’t allowed but somehow still manage to end up.

And if you’re not riding a scooter, you’re probably complaining about them. Ask around and everyone has a story about almost being hit by an oblivious scooter rider, or seeing someone on a scooter doing something dumb. 

Because while Austin has embraced scooters more than many other municipalities, the chaos of SXSW has put some of the issues surrounding the vehicles on full display. For example: not everyone got the memo that you’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk. (Though Lyft, to its credit, did hand out a pamphlet advising on proper scooter etiquette.) 

Having taken a couple scooter rides around Austin myself, it’s quickly apparent that scooter riders on the sidewalk is likely about much more than just plain ignorance. While some streets have protected bike lanes, many do not. And the amount of construction currently happening in downtown Austin means there are numerous potholes and less usable space than in the past.

As a city Austin has gone from 708 scooters last April to the more than 8,000 today, so these growing pains aren’t unique to SXSW, even if they are exacerbated by it. 

Still, while combining thousands of scooters with hordes of party-hopping pedestrians seems like a recipe for disaster, city officials say that so far, there haven’t been any major incidents.

A spokesperson for Austin Transportation Department said 33 scooters have been confiscated by police for blocking the right of way since SXSW started. She added that there have not been any “significant” crashes, though I did hear talk of at least one scooter-related broken bone.

For scooter companies, these kinds of issues are likely little more than a necessary blip on their way to getting thousands of scooters into every city. And, at SXSW — a place already dedicated to corporate one-upmanship — every scooter company wants to be the scooter company.

Uber has big stands filled with its Jump scooters and bikes. Lyft handed out pamphlets. Spin attached “Free $5” signs to all its scooters (which means that you get a $5 credit, not that the scooter is simultaneously free and $5).

Whether this will succeed in winning over riders’ loyalty when scooters inevitably arrive in their own towns is unclear. What is obvious, though, is that these companies firmly believe scooters are the future. 

And our sidewalks are only going to get more crowded.

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f86947%252fef8ecfd6 67aa 4dd5 b653 f0c8f51fa398.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=omueb9igfnozzmqg09bdjo0o eq=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

The CDC’s study on e-scooter injuries reveals the obvious: wear a helmet

The explosive expansion of dockless e-scooters from startups like Lime and Bird in cities all around the world has made it super easy to get around. But you know what’s not so great about the two-wheelers? When you inevitably face plant into the ground.

E-scooter injuries are on the rise and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants to better understand how riders are hurting themselves as well as the severity of their injuries while scooting around town. And surprise: the reasons are super obvious.

Contrary to popular belief, most e-scooter-related injuries don’t happen at night and don’t involve collision with a car, according to Jeff Taylor, manager of the Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit with Austin Public Health.

“Our study will show they occur during all times of the day,” Taylor said. “People may also perceive there’s typically a car involved. But our study finds most of the time the rider may hit a bump in the road or they simply lose their balance.”

The CDC’s study, which will be released in the spring, showed fewer than 1 percent of e-scooter riders wore helmets.

Similarly, the University of San Diego Medical Center’s tracking of e-scooter-related injuries showed 98 percent of patients who got into accidents didn’t wear a helmet, 48 percent of them were drunk, and 52 percent tested for substance abuse. 

UCLA researchers who looked at data for patients admitted to its medical centers between Sept. 2017 and Aug. 2018 also found most e-scooter injuries were from falls.

One person profiled by CNBC said she landed in the emergency room with a busted lip when she hit a pothole.

So who’s to blame for the increase in e-scooters? The e-scooter startups that are taking over cities? Irresponsible riders? The cities for not creating proper pathways (like bike lanes) to accommodate e-scooters?

That’s what the CDC’s hoping to figure out. But from what little data that already exists, it’s clear everyone shares a little bit of the blame. Riders for not wearing helmets and riding on scooters when they’re under the influence. Scooter companies for not creating protections that check for things like intoxication and helmets (a difficult undertaking, but with great power comes great responsibility). And of course, cities also share the blame for not adapting quickly enough to changing transportation trends.

“We’re taking this issue seriously. We’re doing all that we can to work with cities, education and technology to address these accidents and it’s encouraging the medical community is as well,” a Lime spokesperson told CNBC. “We absolutely support the CDC study and would love to contribute in any way through data sharing.”

E-scooter startup Bird also told CNBC it’s spoken to the CDC researchers and doesn’t disagree with its early assessment. “People will always make mistakes on the road, but it’s not about perfecting human behavior. It’s about designing streets so when people make mistakes those mistakes aren’t fatal,” a Bird’s safety policy director Paul White said.

As we said, these findings are sorta obvious. So be smart and safe and wear a helmet, and never ride a scooter if you’re wasted. Just don’t do it. You risk hurting yourself and others. It’s no different than the rules that apply to driving a car.  

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f82660%252f55f4951b 0b5c 433e 8524 550661fcba31.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=bfz8zapyyiiyou4upa9j 74ybjo=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Shared scooters barely last a month, report says. But that could change.

It’s tough out there for an e-scooter.

The battery-powered vehicles used by most scooter-sharing companies weren’t intended for such heavy use. The first generation of shared scooters were mainly from Xioami, and not made with the type of usage scooter rental companies like Bird put the vehicle through. 

Alison Griswold in her Overshare newsletter about the sharing economy crunched the numbers this week from Louisville, Kentucky’s scooter-share program. It’s based mostly on Bird rides and found between August and December the average lifespan of a scooter there was 28 days.

As the scooter companies grow and stick around, they’ve learned quickly that the vehicles need to be more durable. A month turnover does not make for a lasting business model as Griswold goes into. Nor does it sound very green, especially for companies like Bird that tout the millions of pounds of carbon emissions its scooters eliminate.

Most of the e-scooter companies I reached out to didn’t want to release specific numbers about scooter lifespans or cycles. Bird wouldn’t comment directly on the 28-days finding. But the companies did emphasize their new models are designed with heavy usage in mind.

Lime last year introduced its Gen. 3 scooter with a wider base and wheels and the company expects it to last longer than previous scooter models as it comes into more markets this year. At the end of last year Lime was struggling with combusting scooters, and more recently a braking bug.

Segway-Ninebot’s Model Max was introduced at CES in January as the new fleet scooter for companies like Bird and Lyft. A fact sheet about the new model plainly states, “From their learnings being at the center of the growing scooter-sharing market, Segway-Ninebot found that there tends to be a lot of wear and tear on shared scooters, which results in costly product maintenance, as well as short product life span.” Without any specific numbers, the newer product claims to “last longer” with a more robust design. 

Goat, the Austin-based scooter company that lets you operate your own scooter business, put out this week that it would be offering the new Segway scooters. It has a current offer for would-be scooter empires to buy the scooters for $599.

Meanwhile, electric bicycles part of a shared fleet like Uber-owned Jump are “designed to last years,” a company spokesperson said in an email. Yes, parts will need to be replaced like tires, but the bike itself can roll on much longer. Same with the Lyft-owned Motivate bike-sharing company that runs Ford GoBike in the Bay Area or Citi Bike in New York City. A spokesperson also said the e-bikes are designed to last for years.

These e-scooters are supposed to last longer.

These e-scooters are supposed to last longer.

Image: superpedestrian

Superpedestrian released what it calls a “smart” scooter last year, built for the hard-riding street life of a rental scooter. It’s supposed to last in a shared fleet for nine to 18 months. CEO Assaf Biderman said in an email standard fleet technology used by other operators to monitor, track, and repair scooters means “much shorter vehicle lifespan” compared to the more involved system used for his scooters. He cited industry reports with as quick as 11 days of use in Austin, Texas, before a new vehicle is brought in.

Another built-to-last scooter for fleets comes from Acton (its fleet vehicle is billed as a an “urban warrior“). Company co-founder Peter Treadway said in a Mashable interview last year, “It’s built like a vehicle, not a toy, to withstand the everyday wear and tear of commercial use.”

It’s time for e-scooters to toughen up.

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f86947%252fef8ecfd6 67aa 4dd5 b653 f0c8f51fa398.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=omueb9igfnozzmqg09bdjo0o eq=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

The cure for the Commuter’s Blues

Another hour spent behind the wheel, inching your way through your city’s clogged streets—all while imagining being home already, getting a head start on cooking dinner, spending time with your family and friends, catching up on your favorite show. Or, running late to the most important meeting of the week, stuck behind a driver who apparently wants to see just how slowly he can drive without making his car come to a complete stop. Sound familiar?

Call it the commuter’s blues. Whether you’re on your way to the boardroom or the classroom—or anywhere between—a slow, painful commute can suck the energy out of your day. That’s where the GXL Commuter Scooter comes in, from GOTRAX. Designed to help you cut through your commute safely, stylishly, and quickly, the GXL can be a gamechanger for anyone looking to cure the commuter’s blues. 

Traveling 9-12 miles on a single charge—more than enough for the average commute—this electric scooter has the range. With a slew of cutting-edge features, the GXL is tailored to suit your commuting needs, no matter your resume. Let’s check out a few familiar commuters to see how the GXL can ease their commute.

The Silicon Valley Starter-Upper

For you, work means innovation, disruption, revolution—that is, if you can actually make it to the office. You love your new electric car: energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and definitely a conversation piece. Only, it turns out everyone else in Silicon Valley loves their electric car, too. So much so that the roads are as jammed as ever. On top of that, buying the latest in automotive tech means waiting for the rest of the world to catch up, including your mechanic. With the roads a mess and your car in the shop again, what’s a tech upstart to do?

Let the GXL “disrupt” your commute. You won’t have to give up your green cred: with its rechargeable battery, the GXL ticks that box. And, with its 4 battery light indicators, you’ll know when it’s time for a quick charge. The lights say you’re good-to-go, and your commute flies by—just like you fly by the cars in bumper-to-bumper traffic. But if one of those drivers sticks their bumper out your way while craning for a view of the endless traffic ahead, don’t worry. The GXL’s front and rear double braking system—featuring disc braking and a regenerative anti-lock brake system—means you can stop on a dime, safely. Plus, you’re at work early enough to snag some cold brew before it’s all gone. Nice.

The Campus Commuter Extraordinaire

We’ve all been there: you were up late (definitely studying), your alarm didn’t go off, and class is all the way across campus. You’ve got 5 minutes to get to your desk. Are you lacing up your running shoes and stretching your calves? Relax—with the GLX, you’ll zip to class in no time. With gear control, you can literally flip the GLX into high gear, which reaches a top speed of 15-18mph. You could do the math to see just how long your trip will be, but save that for class, right? Or, just check out the speedometer. Point being, it’s fast. 

Once you slide into your seat before your professor has time to say “roll call,” you’re flipping your GXL safely underneath your desk. Fast, Fold, and Release—all you’ve got to do is activate a lever, and the GXL will fold itself into an easily store-able unit. 

The Business Casual Boss

The downtown crunch—that’s what you’ve come to call the painful gridlock you face every morning and evening on your way to and from work. Forget driving. It’s not worth it in the city, and that goes double for sitting in a cab. You could bike, but the cyclists all seem just as frozen in their tracks, and you’re not up for sweating through your shirt before the morning meeting. With your GXL, you’ll slide through the crunch with no problem, and with shock absorbing tires, you’ll feel comfortable on a smooth ride. 

The GXL’s precision accelerating and braking gives you perfect stop-start control for this busy area. You won’t have to dread the commute home, either: thanks to the GXL’s powerful LED headlight, you’ll be illuminating your own way through a quick, comfortable commute, and others on the road will see you clearly. Safe travels!