Guest Editorial: The Electric Epidemic Part II

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Litter or Luxury? The debate rages on.

Last week, we wrote about the unavoidable consequences and safety concerns surrounding the scooters proliferating throughout Scottsdale. Click here to read.  There’s no question that bike and scooter share is transforming and modernizing transportation by creating a cost efficient and colorful way of getting around. But it should not come at the expense, safety, and aesthetic of its residents.

However, safety is not the only issue facing the future of bike share. The latest problem facing the electric scooters is money – specifically from investors. Investors initially flocked to scooter companies. But, in recent months, the business model has recently proven to be “tougher than expected,” forcing many supporters to retreat. Read full Wall Street Journal Article here.

Vandalism, market saturation and unexpected costs have beset companies like Bird and Lime. In places like Scottsdale, it has become commonplace to see scooters floating in the canals, knocked over in rows or thrown in garbage dumpsters. This is not a great look for the “best city in America.”

On top of increasing financial difficulties, scooter companies are dealing with regulatory setbacks with some cities banning them outright. Currently, Tempe is exploring rules and regulations that would require licensing fees and capping the number of bikes at 400. The Scottsdale City Council passed an ordinance to address rules and regulations of where, more specifically where not to, park bikes and scooters and rules for operation. Ordinances like these are clear warning signs that can also deter investors from continuing on.

As with any new product or service that hits the market, there are going to be growing pains and hiccups at the beginning. Electric scooters and bike-sharing is no different. But with any successful business model, the benefits needs to outweigh the risks and costs.  Scottsdale fought hard to get for-profit sign spinners off its public property. Should for-profit bike and scooter companies be any exception? As the allure and appeal begins to fade with investors, it would be wise for the city to take a second look at regulating the program in a smart and healthy way before banning them altogether.