E-Scooters: Are They Bad for the Environment?
E-scooters (electric scooters) are sustainable transportation modes these days as people try to choose a safe way of traveling. Today, companies selling e-scooters market these electric vehicles as a green way of traveling, but many experts said it might not be true.
As the pandemic hit the economies, many companies were forced to temporarily close or lay-off some of their employees for their company's survival. But the industry of e-scooters had experienced a surge when economies started opening.
The e-scooter company, Lime, said that their products have become profitable for the first time after the lockdowns were lifted. But at the beginning of the pandemic, they had to lay-off some 100 people and close their branch in 12 cities when they ran out of cash.
Increased electric scooter trips
According to Lime's data from their stores in Berlin, London, and Paris, there has been a 15% increase in electric bike and e-scooter trips between the pre-lockdown and when lockdowns were started to lift.
Although some of the increase may be seasonal, they revealed that the distances traveled increased by 68%, and there were even new lanes made for bicycles, the BBC reported.
"The various COVID-related lockdowns have been very good for the industry as a whole, but not for every company. There has definitely been an increase in the use of bikes and scooters," Justine Bornstein said, who was tracking the growth of the industry.
He added that people have transitioned into using alternative ways for safety reasons with lesser car traffic on the street.
Lime's chief executive Mr. Wayne Ting believes that their new customers would stick around for some time even if the pandemic is over.
However, governments around the world have expressed their concerns about using electric scooters than those electric bikes. Like France, some countries have already passed some legislation to ensure their people's safety by banning the usage of e-scooters on the pavement.
Environmental impact of electric scooters
Another concern for e-scooters is its environmental impact. According to The Guardian, a study revealed that although e-scooters do not emit greenhouse gases, they are not as eco-friendly as they look.
North Caroline State University researchers found that traveling by e-scooters releases more greenhouse gas per mile than traveling by bus, bicycle, or foot.
They specifically noted that the materials used in the production of the frame, wheels, and battery, and the companies' efforts at the end of each day to round up the scooters, then charge them and return them into the streets had a significant impact on the environment.
"I hope that our paper helps consumers consider what they're actually replacing with the scooters," the researchers said. "Hopefully, it will help these companies to manage better how their employees are driving around to pick these scooters up to make them more efficient."