E-scooters start-ups tout their services as zero-carbon alternative to cars, but studies argue that the plucky two-wheelers are primarily used recreationally and only for short trips.
E-scooters touted as zerocarbon urban transport are flooding city streets worldwide, but just how green they are remains an open question.
The companies from large multinationals to start-ups distributing them insist the two-wheel vehicles are a boon for the environment and a curb on global warming.
“Scooters cut the use of vehicles and reduce the volume of traffic on the road,”an american firm said. “They also help reduce pollution and improve air quality.”
On paper, they have the potential to radically reduce urban car traffic: 70 per cent of car trips. “From this shift, we estimate that our riders have avoided 24 million km of car travel and prevented 6,220 metric tons of carbon emissions” over a two-year period, the company noted.
But do e-scooters live up to all the hype?
There is also a lot of uncertainty as to the lifespan of shared e-scooters, which varies with hardware and intensity of usage. It’s a key question, because how long they last is a major part of what determines environmental impact.
“As of today, it is impossible to say whether e-scooters are good or bad for the environment because we lack long-term statistics on life cycles,” said Denis Benita, a transportation engineer at Ademe.