Why You May Starting Seeing Electric Scooters Pop Up In Dozens Of U.S. Cities

Mopeds have long been a popular means of transport in European and Asian cities, but a new kind of electric scooter now is popping up all over the U.S.

Called escooters, these motorized, single-rider devices have become a common sight in places like San Francisco, L.A., and Portland. They look like the grown-up version of that Raozr scooter you or your kids once had. Some escooter companies have begun expanding to the East Coast and southern cities.

The scooters can reach speeds comparable to a slow-moving car and driving them doesn’t require any special certification, making them attractive options for short-distance commuters or bypassing traffic. Riders typically use bike lanes where possible, though riding on the sidewalk is not unheard of.

Ridesharing companies like Bird and Spin are offering dockless scooter rentals for just $1. Riders simply pay through their phone, grab a nearby scooter, and then leave it at their destination. At night, a team of “chargers” gathers the scooters and returns them to charge.

City officials across the country are scrambling to figure out how to make sure escooter riders, motorists, and pedestrians can all coexist happily and safely.