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Transportation

The Electric Scooter War Is No Joke

As Bird, LimeBike, and Spin unleash dockless scooters in new cities, turf battles are breaking out.
Here comes trouble.
Here comes trouble. Jeff Chiu/AP

Save your battles over affordable housing for another day. There’s a new urban crisis afoot: the scooter.

Not the Razor scooters that kids used to zoom around on, but dockless scooters—the electric, rentable, bitty-wheeled cousins of the dockless bike. They seem to have first emerged in Santa Monica in September 2017, when scooter-share startup Bird dispatched hundreds of its motor-assisted, foot-powered black vehicles into public streets without city permission. Since then, LimeBike, Spin, and other players in the dockless bikesharing industry have entered the fray, spraying thousands of their own scooters onto the sidewalks of San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Washington, D.C., and Austin.