Discussions about electric scooters often focus on the negatives of the vehicles. They can be dangerous to use on the road, and it’s common for cities to ban or heavily restrict them. However, electric scooters could also lead to beneficial changes in transportation, such as reduced rush hour traffic.
According to The Verge, one electric scooter company is working to make mobility more accessible. Bird, one of the largest electric scooter companies on the market, is partnering with Scootaround, a mobility scooter and wheelchair company.
The future of electric mobility should be more accessible
The partnership between Bird and Scootaround
The partnered companies introduced a pilot program that allows users to rent accessible electric vehicles. This will be a standard feature in the Bird app. Users with mobility issues can select three-wheeled scooters, four-wheeled scooters, or wheelchairs. Instead of renting them for a single ride, Bird users can rent them for up to 14 days.
Bird and Scootaround are also working to make sure that people who rent these mobility vehicles know how to use them. The renter will get an in-person lesson about riding and charging the vehicle. This will help increase accessibility for riders.
This program is in the trial stage but has the potential to help improve mobility. The program is starting in New York City, but Bird hopes to expand it to other cities in the future.
Of course, electric scooters have to be legal where the companies want to run the program. Electric scooters, or e-scooters, had a long road to legalization in the Empire State. Fortunately for riders, New York lifted its ban on electric scooters in 2020.
Under New York law, electric scooters can run at a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. This top speed is fairly standard for e-scooters outside of the state as well. Those younger than 18 are allowed to ride electric scooters, but they must wear a helmet.
This opened the door for industry leaders like Bird and Lime to enter the large New York market. It’s also the first step in enabling rentals of mobility scooters.
Adding e-scooters to the electric vehicle discussion
When people talk about electric vehicles, they’re generally talking about electric cars. This is reasonable considering cars are the dominant mode of transportation. Reducing the number of gas-powered vehicles on the road is a big step in reducing carbon emissions.
However, that doesn’t mean electric cars are the only potential solution. Other electric vehicles can help increase access to transportation and mobility.
Electric scooters, for example, can be a great alternative for those who only need to travel short distances. As the Bird and Scootaround partnership demonstrates, these smaller electric vehicles could also greatly benefit those with disabilities.
As e-scooters become more popular, their roles in transportation may be expanded. There are still issues surrounding electric scooters, though, particularly regarding their safety. While the electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters move at slower speeds and are intended to travel on sidewalks, some worry about the safety of standard e-scooters.
There are still safety considerations to work out, but electric scooters can be a good option for people who might not have access to cars or public transportation. Bird and Scootaround also emphasize that electric scooters could help people with mobility issues.
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