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Old 09-08-2019, 05:53 AM   #8
AVANTI R5
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Default E-Scooters Pose Hurricane Threat And May Not Be So Green


Will E-scooters continue to be "a thing" globally, or are there rational and market forces working against them?LIME


Quote:
E-scooters continue to create phenomena of questions, complaints, statistics, bans, acts of destruction and violence across the globe. In short, the advent of electric scooters in cities, and their subsequent cockroach-like spread, is prompting questions over whether they will continue to be “a thing” in the new arena of “micro-mobility” or gradually fade into “remember when scooters were a thing?” status.

Projectile Scooters

What happens to all these un-owned and unattended scooters (and shared bikes) when a huge tropical storm bears down on a city and these things risk becoming projectiles instead of conveyances.

Hurricane Dorian has scooter companies scrambling to get them of the street in The Bahamas and Florida’s east coast. The National Hurricane Center warns of storm surge, heavy rains and life-threatening hurricane-force winds, capable of flinging scooters everywhere. The city of Miami ordered companies supplying scooters to the city to get them off the street by the close of Friday. Lyft said it will pause all scooter operations in Miami and secure them off the street. Lime said it is securing some 1500 scooters and 500 shared bikes in Orlando, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

How Green is Lime?

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, there were some 38.5 million trips taken on e-scooters in 2018. It is estimated that 40% of 85 million rides taken on scooters, shared electric bikes and regular bikes and electric skateboards were taken on e-scooters. A survey by one city, Portland, shows that one-third of e-scooter rides might have replaced a car ride, while the other two thirds were for enjoyment or replaced walking or another micro transportation mode, such as a bike.

Cities like Portland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Paris, Copenhagen are experimenting with shared micro-mobility to reduce the number of car miles logged in the city, and as a “last-mile” option for public transportation riders who need to get from their last stop to their destination but don’t have time to walk.

Overall, the point of e-scootering is to contribute to an overall greener planet, less greenhouse gas emissions and less traffic congestion.

Ah...if it was so simple. In Portland, for example, as well as other cities, there is “scooter rage.” The city is among several, including Detroit, that has had a rash of incidents in which citizens have chucked dozens and even hundreds of scooters into the local river. The reasons range from people frustrated by scooter newbies that knock into things and people on the sidewalks, cyclists who view them as a nuisance in bike lanes, people who see them as eyesores piling up in public parks and those who just get their jollies on destroying something they don’t relate to.

People who are not down with e-scooters are not right to destroy them, but they have an ally in some researchers who cast doubt on e-scooters as a solution to anything green.

In a study reported this month, North Carolina State University (NCSU) Environmental Engineering Professor Jeremiah Johnson and students Joseph Hollingsworth and Brenna Copeland actually found, after taking apart a scooter,13 pounds of aluminum, a lithium-ion battery, an electric motor and other plastic and steel parts. The study suggests that the energy used in the mines, smelters and factories in China, where the vast majority of scooters are made, make up more than 50% of the e-scooter's total environmental impact. "The real impact comes largely from two areas: using other vehicles to collect and redistribute the scooters; and emissions related to producing the materials and components that go into each scooter," Johnson said in an NCSU news release.

This kind of analysis is similar to that done around electric vehicles. Sure, EVs don’t emit C02 out of the tailpipe, but the electricity to power them is still derived mostly from coal and natural gas powered utility plants. Ethanol is made largely from corn, and not fossil fuels, but it's less energy efficient than gasoline, and growing corn is incredibly hard on the earth. And then there is the energy required to distill ethanol.

Companies, people, states, cities are all trying to do their bit, and monetize the desire, despite the folly of climate-change deniers, to reduce their CO2 footprint. And all the intentions and efforts can’t wait for everyone in the world to get on the same electric bus.

Given the credible counter and competing arguments around things like ethanol, e-scooters and electric vehicles, though, while we watch the Amazon forest burn and undo the good work of tens of thousands of windmills, it would be great if we had a little global leadership right now.
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