Why cities continue to have a love-hate affair with e-scooters

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Ride-share e-scooters are parked on the sidewalks of major cities across the world. And 158 U.S. cities already have ride-share e-scooter systems in place.

But some cities, like New Orleans and Las Vegas, have strict ride-share e-scooter bans. Paris just voted to ban e-scooters. Others, like San Francisco, have made it challenging for e-scooter ride-share companies to operate, which led Bird, one of the largest companies in the industry, to leave the city. In a two-month span last summer, there were more than 12,000 citations for improperly parked scooters — leading to Bird paying $385,000 in fines.

“We operate in around 400 cities and they had the highest fine rate of any city in the world that we operate in. And they were in the top 1% of cities for vehicle theft,” Bird CEO Shane Torchiana said.

Other cities like Washington, D.C., see the e-scooter ride-share option as a valuable addition to their transportation infrastructure. The district even recently increased the number of scooters allowed in the city by year-end — up to 20,000.

“It’s a program that has offered a lot of different variety and additional mobility options throughout the district,” said Everett Lott, director of the District Department of Transportation. “It was designed with a commitment to provide equity, sustainability and also definitely make sure we have safety in mind.”

Companies like Bird, Lime and Spin have struggled to achieve profitability, although Lime did announce that it was able to achieve profitability on an unadjusted EBITDA basis in 2022. The companies have also been plagued with controversy and injuries.

Bird went public via a SPAC in November of 2021 and its stock has since plummeted about 98%. Despite this, Torchiana is hopeful about the future, saying the company is working toward profitability.

“I think we will see a lot of progress this year. We just guided to be free cash flow positive for the year in 2023,” he said.

Watch the video to learn more.



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