Eisfunke

Thoughts on Computer Science, Politics and Philosophy

E-Scooters

Date: 2019-09-27 Tags: Politics, Environment

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Electrical kick scooters are conquering cities around the globe. They are fun, practical and environmentally friendly – allegedly, that is.

E-scooters littering a sidewalk.1

E-scooters have conquered cities, not only in Germany. They are everywhere, and in densely populated areas the sidewalks are full of them.

A lot of the talk when they were introduced was about protecting the environment, saving CO2-emissions and so on. How ironic. The reality is: they are a scourge on the environment in multiple ways. Namely, despite the big green “E” in the name, their greenhouse emissions are on about the same level as cars2, thanks to the diesel trucks that drive around at night, with severely underpaid employees on board, to charge those things3.

And as if that wasn’t enough: guess how long one of those rental scooters lasts. Depending on the source you find durations from one month to one year4. Not really a long time. Consider the environmental effects caused by production of all those contraptions, especially the batteries. Consider the amounts of scrap produced. And consider how they litter the urban environment.

Furthermore it’s not like e-scooters are meaningfully substituting car drives. The average distance travelled on e-scooters is a little less than 2 km5. What they are substituting is mainly walking and cycling. Let that sink in – we are replacing walks with things that block sidewalks, need expensive batteries and effectively emit as much greenhouse gases as cars.

Oh, and don’t forget that nobody wears helmets when riding one of those thingies, which is downright dangerous. Seriously, don’t do it. Riding a bike without helmet is bad, but riding a scooter without a helmet is even worse as the upright position makes falls worse for your head. And 25 km/h, which is what is allowed for e-scooters in Germany, is faster than you’d think.

I’m content with walking for now.


  1. Image source, licensed under CC0↩︎

  2. Source (Die Zeit, German)↩︎

  3. To be fair: In the future this may (or may not) be improved, e.g. the charge status could be tracked so that not all scooters would have to be charged, and electric trucks could be used.↩︎

  4. Source 1 (Quartz), Source 2 (TechCrunch)↩︎

  5. Source (Statista)↩︎

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