Addressing the Public Backlash Against E-Scooters

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The outcry against electric scooters has prompted cities such as Beverly Hills to ban them. And, to stave off a heave-ho from the streets of Paris, Bird quickly added an in-app parking feature to prevent its scooters from being sprawled in public areas.

  • Outraged over the descent of e-scooters on city streets, the public has pushed legislators to make uninformed policy decisions about regulating them.
  • While rideshares have been shown to increase traffic and pollution, the public has accepted their existence without much pushback.
  • E-scooters are beneficial solution to transportation issues so policymakers need to figure out how they can peacefully co-exist with pedestrians and other vehicles on the road.

Although studies show rideshares increase traffic and pollution, the public has accepted them. (Photo: Getty Images)

David Zipper, a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government, wanted to figure out why people are so outraged by these two wheelers. In an article on Citylab, he proposes some answers and makes a good argument about why e-scooters should be embraced rather than vilified.

Safety concerns

Although critics of e-scooters cite safety concerns as a reason for public opposition, Zipper points out that it’s mostly riders that get hurt. Another issue enraging the public is e-scooters add competition for space on sidewalks and city streets.

Since e-scooters take up less space than cars, don’t emit carbon dioxide and can ease traffic, why aren’t people more accepting? Studies show rideshares cause more traffic and pollution, but people don’t seem to take as much issue with this form of transportation sharing the road.

Zipper posits that rideshares fall within a comfortable frame of reference similar to a taxi, while e-scooters are a completely new entity. People were already familiar with using apps and an Uber or Lyft was just another car on the road.

Instead of making policies based on constituents’ emotional wrath, Zipper suggests politicians wait for academic studies on e-scooters to be published. As he states, they are the “gold standard” and would be better guides for urban policy.


Electric scooters ease our reliance on fossil fuels, take up less space and can circumvent the dreaded first-mile-last-mile problem. In order to facilitate acceptance of these beneficial vehicles, it’s important for policymakers to make informed decisions about how to integrate e-scooters into our transportation network.

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