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HomeTechMicromobility in limbo: Takeaways from Paris and LA

Micromobility in limbo: Takeaways from Paris and LA

'Quick read' news summary

Shared electric scooters came onto the scene five years ago with a promising vision of getting people out of cars and onto greener modes of transportation. Yet despite billions in VC money and plenty of hype, the future that micromobility companies promised still hasn’t quite arrived. Plus, cities that allowed shared e-scooter companies in their midsts are increasingly making it difficult for scooter companies to operate sustainably.

Shared electric scooters came onto the scene five years ago with a promising vision of getting people out of cars and onto greener modes of transportation. Yet despite billions in VC money and plenty of hype, the future that micromobility companies promised still hasn’t quite arrived.

In cities like Paris, most people aren’t replacing car trips with shared e-scooter jaunts in a meaningful way; the cost of riding scooters makes them an expensive option for last-mile transit connections and equitable access; and the public disclosures of Bird and Helbiz have shown us that achieving profitability is incredibly difficult. Plus, cities that allowed shared e-scooter companies in their midsts are increasingly making it difficult for scooter companies to operate sustainably.

For the sake of traffic flow and carbon emissions, there need to be alternatives to cars. Are shared e-scooters the answer to that, or are they just another shitty option? What have we gained by introducing shared micromobility to cities?

We decided to take a look at two cities that were at the forefront of the e-scooter revolution – Los Angeles and Paris. The former has garnered a reputation of being a bit of a free-for-all, with a laissez-faire capitalist regulatory approach that allows multiple operators to compete for rides and space. The latter has some of the strictest regulations in the game, including limited operator permits, and in fact is still considering banning shared e-scooters entirely.

“From a societal perspective, I’d be more concerned about e-scooters leaving Los Angeles than Paris,” David Zipper, a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government, told TechCrunch. “Paris is so dense and has a great metro. It’s possible scooters there are replacing forms of transportation that are even greener. LA is different. It’s so car dominated and hungry for alternatives to

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