Electric scooters are flooding California, and they’ll be on your sidewalks soon (Quartz)
Depending on who you ask, the electric, internet-connected scooters appearing all over California are either the future of transportation or a public nuisance on par with a biblical plague.
Over the past few weeks, scooters primarily from three startups—Bird, LimeBike, and Spin—have flooded the streets of greater Los Angeles and San Francisco. The companies, which have collectively raised $255 million from venture capitalists, believe scooters are the next step toward a multimodal future, in which the typical person doesn’t own a car, but cobbles together shared rides, bikes, public transit, and, yes, scooters, to get around.
The main electric scooter players – There are three main companies dumping scooters in California…
San Francisco’s bizarre scooter war shows how tech companies ignore the law (Vice)
Yet another startup-led trend has resulted in a massive backlash and threats of regulation.
The Bay Area serves as America’s sandbox. The tech world’s most far-fetched ideas are often sketched and tested here, and if they’re successful, they’ll spread throughout the country. The latest trend to materialize here is motorized scooters you can rent through an app. Thanks to a number of scooter share startup launches, there are now a few distinct brands of these app-supported two-wheelers scattered throughout the city—Bird, Spin, and LimeBike—and if that sounds ridiculous to you, you’re not alone.
It’s the classic Silicon Valley fairy tale: A few companies raise hundreds of millions of dollars, cover the city with their products, people get very annoyed at them, and the city scrambles to update regulations in response.
We’re near the logical conclusion of this particular tale, with the city of San Francisco trying to catch up with the trend by passing legislation governing the scooters. One of the motorized scooter companies, Bird, responded to a rumor of impending scooter ban with an aggressive statement that stressed the importance of “listening to the people.” So tensions are running pretty high right now, and there’s a great deal at stake: The three companies with operational motorized scooter shares in San Francisco have raised a combined total of of $256 million. The majority of this cash has gone to Bird ($115 million) and LimeBike ($132 million), while Spin has raised a relatively paltry $8 million.
When these scooters appeared, there were no regulations to govern them (though city officials were working on rules when LimeBike and Bird launched their services), forcing local governments to figure out a way to react to this latest “disruption” after the fact.