Skip to content

Why Do City Dwellers Love to Hate Scooters?

Electric scooters draw a lot of hate, but if supported well by cities, they have the potential to provide a widespread and beneficial mode of transportation.
A man rides an electric scooter in Los Angeles.
A man rides an electric scooter in Los Angeles.Mike Blake/Reuters

You might have noticed that electric scooters have a remarkable ability to spark rage across a large swath of urban residents. More than 100,000 people follow Bird Graveyard on Instagram, sharing all the creative ways that an e-scooter can meet its demise. The profile page of another popular Instagram account, Scooters Behaving Badly, reads “Don’t park or ride your scooter like an asshole. Or better yet, don’t ride one at all.”

Popular hostility to e-scooters is puzzling when one considers that the vehicles take up less public street space than automobiles and don’t pollute as much as they do. The more thoughtful e-scooter critics often point to safety concerns, with some justification: The CDC recently concluded that about one in 5,000 e-scooter trips in Austin resulted in a rider being hurt.