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Chances are pretty good you’ve seen electric scooters like these, which are available for short-term rental, popping up all over the place. Where did they come from? Most likely from Lime, Bird, Jump, Spin, and Lyft, the shared mobility companies leading the charge in the rapidly growing transportation industry known as short-term electric scooter sharing.

What is Scooter Sharing?:

  • Scooter sharing involves rentable electric scooters, which are unlocked by scanning a code with a smartphone.
  • You push off with your foot and then the electric motor kicks in for effortless traveling.
  • These scooters are available for short-term periods of time to travel short distances within a geographic area.
  • You’ll find them parked on the sidewalk, in front of businesses, or in parking lots, especially in large metropolitan cities with a limited amount of parking. So if you’re in a city like this, wondering where to rent scooters, just look around. You’ll probably see a whole bunch of them.

Scooter sharing, also called electric scooter sharing, has really blown up in popularity when it comes to new forms of mobility solutions.

scooters in sharing economy

Scooters in Shared Mobility:

More and more consumers are turning away from driving a personal car, and turning to rentable electric scooters to travel short distances in metropolitan areas, especially to and from public transportations hubs and tourist attractions. The fact that people can quickly unlock an electric scooter, hop on, and travel a couple of blocks or a couple of miles to reach their destination, without being stuck in traffic or spending time searching for parking, is an extremely attractive proposition in congested areas. This is why companies like Lime, Bird, Jump, and Lyft and Spin are investing heavily in rentable scooter technology, while even bigger investors are pumping money into the companies that rent the scooters.

Even ridesharing takes a backseat to scooter rentals during high traffic times. Uber, which owns Jump, has reported that consumers rent more Jump scooters during busy periods in a city than call for Uber rides. This is a good reason why Uber is embracing new forms of shared mobility such as rentable electric scooters and bikes.

Another name for shared electric scooters is dockless scooters.

  • They’re called dockless because they can be parked and left anywhere you want. The scooter will just sit there until the next rider unlocks and rents it.
  • More and more mobility startups are concentrating on dockless scooters, which eliminate the need to construct and maintain expensive docking stations.
  • Mobile apps make it easy for consumers to find, pay for, and ride on the closest parked, dockless scooter to their location. It truly is a cheap and quick way to get around town.

How to find and use a shared scooter:

Apps make finding the closest shared scooter a breeze. Each company has its own scooter app for locating, unlocking, and paying. Download any of them to your smartphone and you’ll be ready to take a convenient and affordable scooter ride:

  • Lime Scooter App (through Google Play and the App Store)
  • Jump Scooter (through Uber app only)
  • Lyft Scooter App (through Lyft App only)
  • Bird Scooter App (through Google Play and the App Store)
  • Spin App (through Google Play and the App Store)

Ok, you’ve successfully downloaded the scooter company app of your choice. Here’s how to rent a scooter and be on your way:

  • Use the app to locate the closest rentable scooter near you. It could literally be a few feet away or around the corner.
  • Look for the scooter’s QR code, (it’s a kind of barcode) and scan it using the company’s app that you downloaded to your phone. This unlocks the scooter’s electric motor so you can ride it. The code is usually found near the scooter’s handles.
  • Push off a few times with your foot to activate the electric motor. Acceleration and brakes are controlled with the scooter’s handles.
  • The rental fee will be automatically charged to the credit card or bank account you entered when you set up your account in the app, just like when you use a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft.
  • When you reach your destination, end the ride in the app, and park the scooter. The motor will automatically relock until the next rider comes along to unlock it.

A few notes about scooter laws and safety:

  • Most scooter companies require a valid driver’s license to rent one of their scooters.
  • Helmets may be required as well. Wearing a helmet is a good way to protect yourself in case of a collision or a fall.
  • Please use caution when riding a scooter in the street, on a bike path, or on a crowded sidewalk.
  • Important scooter parking safety tips:
    • Leave the scooter standing up, not lying down, which makes it a tripping hazard.
    • Park it on the edge of the sidewalk or on a grassy area, not in the road where cars need to park against the curb or in the middle of pedestrian paths.

Environmental Benefits of Scooter Sharing

As we’ve discussed in a previous HyreCar blog article, ridesharing services have positive impacts on our planet’s environment, because they get pollution-emitting vehicles off the road. Here are a few reasons why riding electric scooters is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

  • The scooters are fully electric. Riding one a short distance instead of hopping in a gas burning car helps reduce fossil fuel emissions.
  • The scooters use a fraction of the energy needed to power a car.
  • Consumers are realizing that renting a scooter makes getting to a nearby bus stop or transit station a lot easier than waiting for a cab or an Uber.

Types of Scooter Sharing Services:

Lime Scooter:

Lime was founded on the idea of smart mobility for the modern world. They call their bright green rentable electric scooter the Lime S.

  • Cost is $1 to unlock plus $.15 cents per minute until you end your ride in the app.
  • Some states require that you have a valid driver’s license to ride a Lime electric scooter.
  • Must be 18+ to ride a Lime.
  • Maximum range of 37 miles on a full battery. You can check how much juice is in the scooter you’re renting using the Lime app.
  • Top speed is around 15 mph.
  • Lime is available in most major cities and universities coast to coast. Click here for a list of locations.

Lime also offers bike sharing, which they call the Lime E.

Bird Scooter:

Bird dedicates itself to making transportation better and more environmentally friendly.

  • Cost is $1 to unlock. Rides range between $.15 and $.20 a minute depending on the city. For example, Oakland, California charges $.15 while Memphis, Tennessee charges $.20.
  • Bird strongly suggests wearing a helmet, which they even offer for free (plus shipping costs) to active Bird riders. You can request one in the Bird app.
  • Bird scooters are available in dozens of major cities and universities across the USA. Click here for a list of locations. You can become a Bird Charger anywhere Bird Scooters are available for rent.

For Bird’s safety and parking tips, click here.

Becoming a Bird Charger

There’s a cool way to earn some extra cash by becoming a Bird scooter charger. To become a Bird Charger, which is what Bird calls this independent contracting gig, you use a special version of the Bird app to locate and pick up scooters that are running low on battery power. You then bring them home and plug them in using special chargers that Bird will mail you, once Bird approves your application and tells you you’ve officially become a bird scooter charger. You then must return the charged Bird scooters to designated locations provided to you on the app, by 7am the next day. You’ll get paid anywhere from around $5 to $25 a scooter, depending on how difficult it is to “hunt” for and “capture” the uncharged scooter.

Jump Scooter:

Jump is an electric scooter startup recently launched by Uber. While Jump electric bikes are already available in many major cities, Jump scooters are only available in Santa Monica, California, for now.

  • Cost to ride a Jump scooter is $1 to unlock. The first five minutes are free. After that, it’s $.15 per minute.
  • Jump scooters are only available through the Uber app.
  • Uber will use in-house workers to charge, pick-up, and repair scooters, unlike other scooter companies that rely on contracted workers. Uber feels this will provide a more satisfying customer experience by cutting down on damaged and uncharged scooters lying around.
  • Santa Monica requires that you wear a helmet while riding a scooter, and Uber works with helmet companies to offer discounts to riders.
  • Must be 18 years or older with a valid U.S. driver’s license.

Lyft Scooter:

Lyft now offers electric scooters, but so far, only in Denver and Santa Monica. Their program is similar to the ones offered by Bird, Lime, and Lyft’s archrival, Uber, which just launched its Jump scooter service.

  • Cost is $1 to unlock and then $.15 per minute.
  • You’ll be charged $25 if you keep the scooter more than 12 hours, and $600 if your lose or steal it. A $100 fee will be charged if you park the scooter behind a locked gate or unreachable area after you end your ride.
  • Scooters can only be accessed through the Lyft app.
  • Helmets are required. You can pick up a free one at a participating Lyft Hub location.
  • Lyft’s advantage over Lime and Bird is that you can use your existing Lyft ride app to rent a scooter. No need to download and sign in to another app.

Spin Scooter:

Spin is a rather new company that was founded in San Francisco in 2016. Their focus is “to get you where you need to go—whether you’re commuting to work, going to class, running errands on the weekends or exploring your city. With Spin, you’re free to roam.”

  • Cost is $1 to unlock plus $.15 cents per minute until you end your ride in the app.
  • You will need to simply download the Spin app
  • Spin also requests that all riders wear a helmet when riding one of their shared scooters.
  • Must be 18+ years old with a valid driver license in order to ride
  • They have expanded their dockless mobility systems in 11 cities and 6 campuses across the United States. Visit their site for a full list.

As with ridesharing, carsharing, shared electric bikes, and now shared electric scooters, technology is finding new ways to reduce the number of cars on the road, and increase the ways we navigate through congested, overcrowded cities. HyreCar encourages you to check out these alternate forms of transportation within the shared mobility industry.

Happy Scootering!