Dockless scooters change the economics of downtown parking

Lime and Bird scooters wait in San Jose. I used them when the CC parking lot was full.

Today, parking downtown can cost $10/hour, but that's $2 for the parking and $8 to meet your convenience needs (park very near your destination.) The presence of dockless scooters (Lime/Bird) lets you park anywhere within a mile or so, at the lowest bidder, and get where you're going quickly. It's an early taste of robocar parking, and changes the economics of the business if it can be made reliable.

I have a new article in comment #1 on this.

Read Dockless Scooters from parking lots change the economics of parking


The scooter is great because it is minimalist. They of course have serious downsides the biggest being that they are neither suitable for roads or footpaths. They are too slow for the road, the speed could be fixed but they are already dangerously unstable. E-bikes which are inherently more suited to roads are handicapped by cost and complexity. We need to use the road rather than footpaths, and one way to achieve this is to make e-bikes cheaper. This high cost must be mostly due to the dual drive system, because bikesh are cheap and e-scooters are cheap.
The very simple (simplistic?) answer is to make them pure electric.
As for rain, a bike is probably a better platform for any rain shelter, permanent or otherwise.

But they suffer a few problems of their own. They are much bulkier. Scooter companies depend on their chargers being able to toss 6 or more of these in a trunk to take home and charge and redeploy. They are more expensive but they could be cheap with some volume, but not as cheap as scooters. There are, I think, all sorts of laws about pedals. Take the pedals off and it's not even a modped any more and is effectively a motorcycle, possibly. I think that's even true if you can ride without any pedaling at all. And they take more room on the street.

Another option is three wheeled scooters, which some are making. Still more expensive. Those original lime/bird units cost $500, though the newer ones are stronger.

So if we assume the electrics of an e-bike can be as simple as that of a scooter (they should be able to be after all 70 % of the total mass is the human), then you should expect the price differential can be as little as $100, or even less.
Actually re the mass of e-bikes they appear to be ridiculously over engineering, perhaps simply because weight optimisation for the use cases the designer foresaw wasn't a priority. For a last mile solution it would be.
Re an electric bike becoming a motorbike under the law, yes the law is an ass. Logically the scooter should also be considered a motorbike under law. Better still something with less than 500w should be considered a bike.
3 wheeled scooters might be more stable than 2 wheeled, but I would argue that under sudden braking the rider is far more likely to become separated from the scooter than they would on a bike.

The bulk I certainly agree with, but sadly I think scooters have this advantage by the simple expedient of not having wheels anywhere large enough to be suitable for negotiating roads at 20-30km/hr. (Or even footpaths at 10-15)

$100 bikes would fall apart under public use and misuse.

Right now the law wants to rein these things in, not help them.

Bikes are out there, and very popular in China, which is also where the scooters come from. I presume those Chinese makers are working hard to reduce the price of both, but for now the scooters are a lot cheaper than the bikes.

I maintain the main price differential between e-bikes and scooters is all about the electrics.
A simple robust bike frame is as cheap as chips.

I'm surprised cities allow these scooters to be parked for free all over the sidewalks. Is this something that most cities allow, or is this in a relatively small number of locations?

If ultimate efficiency watts/person/km is the goal then self returning scooters is an obvious goal.
But then achieving this would add too much to the cost of a scooter.
There is an intermediate stage which has been suggested for platooning where a lead vehicle is piloted by a meat computer and the rest are electronically tethered to follow it.
1 person with a following pack of 10 scooters tightly bunched behind him/her might be reasonably easy to do.
The scooters would need to either be basically stable or have software and actuators to move without falling over.
Is this something you have thought about?

It's not as expensive as you think. You don't need nearly what a car needs to go 4mph.

The convoy approach could work but there is a challenge to it, because you need them to balance over bumps and follow their leader through stop signs and traffic lights.

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