It’s worth starting with a comment that I’m terribly risk averse, and therefore… not a ton of fun. When Ford Micromobility subsidiary Spin first launched a fleet of electric scooters in my hometown of Pittsburgh last summer, my immediate instinct was very old-fashioned shout-to-cloud.
Young people took over the streets and sidewalks, racing through downtown and the North Shore on the orange scooters. In the hillier parts of the city—in case you don’t know about Pittsburgh, which is most of the city—they were a static threat, left on sidewalks, under bridges, and in the middle of alleys.
I wrote off the Spin scooters as an inevitable consequence of city life and vowed to avoid the cursed means of transport. Around the same time two things happened: I started editing a lot Rebecca Bellan‘s contributions to TheTechWarrior, and I started dating a guy who swears scooters are fun.
Micromobility startup founders have provided many good arguments for why fleets of electric scooters and bicycles make sense. First of all, they are not cars, which is great for improving air quality and improving rush hour traffic. They can help solve the “last-mile problem” – getting people from the last stop on the subway or bus line to their home or work. They’re theoretically more affordable than owning a car or even hailing a cab or an Uber, and solve obvious equity problems for low-income earners.
I didn’t believe it – they struck me as dangerous, rickety and untenable on several levels. Venture capitalists disagreed and dumped millions into Bird and Lime, among others.
If you’ve read TheTechWarrior, you know what happened next.