Bird’s electric scooters are descending upon cities across the United States at a rapid rate. So are Lime’s scooters, and Spin’s scooters are spinning their wheels in some cities, too. The dockless, shared, electric scooters which you unlock with a finger tap on your scooter app are appearing in major cities across the US.
Could these scooters be coming to the streets of Philadelphia?
In July 2018, Uber invested in Lime, formerly known as LimeBike. Shortly afterwards, Lime began hiring people in several major cities, and one of those cities is Philadelphia. They’re currently hiring 2 people in Philly. We’re not sure if that means Lime is coming to Philly, but it is certainly a possibility.
Lime generally works with city planners and seeks their approval before deploying their scooters onto city streets. Historically, Bird doesn’t do that and flocks to cities in an effort to beat Lime. They often get kicked out, only to return a month or two later once town planners allow them to return, although in some cities they may be banned until 2019.
When Bird is coming to a city, they generally run ads on Craigslist for “chargers” – people who pick up the scooters, charge them, and then drop the scooters back off. We haven’t seen those ads yet, although the clue generally appears only days before the actual deployment.
Are the scooters even allowed here?
There are often state laws and city regulations which may or may not cover electric scooters. PennDOT does have a fact sheet which says that electric scooters are not allowed on sidewalks. In most cities, the electric scooters are treated much like a bicycle, and are to be driven in bike lanes, when available. However, the fact sheet states that “…these vehicles cannot be operated on Pennsylvania roadways or sidewalks.” So, right now, the scooters may not even be allowed on streets. If that’s the case, expect scooter sharing companies to challenge and/or work on changing existing laws to allow scooters (or just drop them off anyways).
Are the scooters safe?
Philadelphia’s streets have a ways to go before they’re the perfect place for cyclists. The scooters themselves attract older riders who wipe out frequently. Another injury risk is people who decide to ride them on sidewalks and hit pedestrians at 15MPH. Also, if the tiny little wheels on the scooters get hung up on a pothole, manhole cover or pebble, riders can go down. Of course, there’s always going to be a negligent or reckless driver who could hit a scooter, and the scooter’s operator is going to have very little protection.
If we get the E-scooters or not remains yet to be seen, but they could definitely be on their way.