Shared e-scooters can be sustainable—but there’s a catch


Person using lime electric scooter.


Carla Delgado

August 7, 2023

Although the pilot program revealed that a number of users replaced motor vehicle travel with e-scooter sharing, “it also found that scooter-sharing replaced some lower emission active transportation trips,” says Susan Shaheen, co-director of Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Data shows that about 42 percent of Portlanders would have taken lower-emission trips if scooters weren’t an option: 37 percent said they would walk and 5 percent would’ve taken a bicycle. Moreover, the operations of the program—which involves the deployment and retrieval of e-scooters every day—likely added motor vehicle trips to the transportation system, but it is beyond the scope of the study.

It’s important to understand the overall impact of e-scooters beyond the trips they replace and consider other factors like manufacturing and longevity because results can vary based on the assumptions and scenarios modeled, says Shaheen.

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Posted on

August 14, 2023