Bikes or Scooters?

Did you know that Washington, DC was the first US city to launch a bike-share pilot program in 2008? SmartBike DC ran 10 stations and 120 bikes. By 2010 bike-sharing programs were established across the entire country with Motivate and B-cycle being the leaders in stationed bike share. Regardless of the differences in ownership, operation, and branding, the bikes are part of our daily work commutes, weekend’s fun, tourists’ activities. They transform our cities by making them more accessible, healthier and sustainable.

In 2017 the dockless shared bikes arrived. Some were from US-based providers – Lime and Jump, some not – Ofo and Mobike. Cities had mixed reaction to the bikes being everywhere. Some pilot programs were allowed only a limited number of bikes. Other cities pushed the ’pause’ button or banned the bikes after experiencing too much clutter. Chicago proposed the bikes to have a ‘lock’ feature in order to avoid the vandalizing of the bikes and the chaos. City regulations drove many bike providers to come and go, or at least regroup. Most everyone agrees, however, that the state of dockless shared bikes is still to be determined. Yet, Uber buying Jump bikes earlier this year, and Lyft recently joining forces with Motivate to launch Lyft Bikes tells me there will be more bikes, both docked and dock free.

Meanwhile during my periodic trips to Washington, DC – a city with flat terrain and mild weather throughout the year, making it perfect for any two-wheel mode of transportation, I observed a consistent use of Capital BikeShare (their stationed bikes), decreasing numbers of dockless bikes, and a significant increase in the amount of scooters on the roads. One can only speculate what’s making scooters popular. Are they simply cool? Are they preferred because it takes less physical effort? Whatever the reasons, the scooter seems to be the new kid on the block. The two dominating providers are Lime and Bird. The scooters are already in Washington, DC, but in other cities, transport planning organizations are conducting studies on the pros and the cons.

Bikeradar’s API already includes a number of scooter providers.

What is your take? Would you rather ride a bike or a scooter?

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