Scooter-Sharing Takes to the Streets

The startup Bird has an electric scooter-sharing program in Santa Monica, Calif.

Electric-powered mobility keeps taking new forms.

In September, Santa Monica, Calif., launched an electric scooter-sharing program where riders can unlock more than 1,000 small electric scooters with a phone app. The service is provided by Bird, a startup. Rides start at $1 and then click along at 15 cents for each minute of use, according to an article on CNNtech.

These are scooters not in the sense of something like a Vespa, but more like a skateboard with handlebars.

The program is similar to bike-sharing, which has become nearly ubiquitous in large and mid-size cities. Many bike-share companies have also added electric-assist bikes to their fleets, given the popularity — and growing familiarity — of electric bikes.

The electric scooters, which travel at about 15 miles per hour, open new urban mobility possibilities, as well as raise new regulatory questions such as listening or helmet requirements.

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.