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Two Wheels, Lots Of Controversy: Electric Scooters And Urban Space

If you live in a place with electric scooters, how are they used? Our producer took this photo in Washington, D.C.
Kathryn Fink/WAMU
If you live in a place with electric scooters, how are they used? Our producer took this photo in Washington, D.C.

They’re cheap. They’re easy. And for many – they are in the way. In the past two years, electric scooters have caught many cities off-balance.

Journalist Clive Thompson wrote about it for Smithsonian Magazine:

But the kudzu-like growth of scooters has also tangled urban life. City officials complain the firms don’t manage the behavior of riders, who are generally not supposed to ride on sidewalks but frequently do, enraging pedestrians (and sometimes plowing into them). Riders are also supposed to park scooters neatly upright, but when some are inevitably strewn about on sidewalks, they become an obstacle. And on America’s badly maintained roads, fast-moving scooters aren’t terribly stable, and the companies don’t provide helmets with each ride. Hitting a bump or pothole can send riders flying, knocking out teeth or even causing traumatic head injuries.

Lawmakers are coming together to figure out how to keep our sidewalks, pedestrians and riders safe.

We find out who’s being taken for a ride — and who is left on the side of the road.

This show was produced by Kathryn Fink and Emmanuel Johnson in partnership with Smithsonian Magazine.


Clive Thompson, Tech journalist; contributing writer, Wired, New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine; @pomeranian99

Gabe Klein, Co-founder, Cityfi; former commissioner, Chicago DOT; former director, DDOT; @gabe_klein

Adam Kovacevich, Head of Government Relations for the Americas, Lime; @adamkovac

For more, visit

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Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5

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