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Transportation

2018 Was the Year of the Scooter

Scooters are dorky, polarizing, dangerous, fun, and maybe even useful. They could also be the kick in the butt that cities need to demand safe streets.
A woman rides a Bird scooter in Paris, France.
A woman rides a Bird scooter in Paris, France.Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Albert Camus once likened absurdity to a man with a sword attacking a nest of machine guns. But Camus never saw an electric scooter.

When these shared, dockless vehicles began to materialize in American cities early this year (the first scooters emerged late last year in Santa Monica), the erstwhile child’s toys seemed like a ridiculous answer to some very grown-up transportation challenges. But despite some initial dorky misgivings, e-scooters swiftly and silently inserted themselves into the American cityscape. Unlocked with smartphone apps from an array of happy-sounding four-letter startups with names like Lime, Bird, Skip, and Spin, scooters found riders among tourists, communities of color, couples, and kids. The scooter bro became a thing. Lazy people devised seating options.