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Nathaniel Bullard

Scooters and Bikes Compete for City Streets

Smaller, electric-driven sharing services could complement transit — if people use them.



Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg


Earlier this year, Santa Monica-based startup Bird rolled out an app-based fleet of dockless electric scooters in San Francisco. The city is not its first location — it has scooters in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington — nor is Bird the only scooter-share company operating there. San Francisco, though, is home to some of the scooters’ most vocal opponents, who see them as sidewalk-clogging nuisances and potential dangers to foot traffic. Proponents (of which I am one!) see scooter sharing as yet another way to move people through cities, and they’re worth analyzing.

In San Francisco, Bird riders are averaging 1.5 miles per trip. I pulled my own Bird ride data for the month of April (10 rides, all in Washington) and found that I traveled a slightly shorter distance on average. I also spent an average of $2.70 per ride. Jump, the operator of on-demand, pedal-assisted electric bicycles that was recently acquired by Uber Technologies Inc., says that its riders average 2.6 miles per trip.