Is An Electric Kick Scooter A Viable Car Replacement?

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One thing urbanists are at least partially right about is how silly commuting in a car looks. A two-ton conglomeration of steel, aluminum, copper, plastic, and cloth (plus either a gas tank or a bunch of batteries) gets used to move one person around. Not only does this take up a bunch of space, but it’s expensive and sometimes a pain in the ass to maintain. In denser areas, things like parking and traffic become an even bigger pain.

Electric bikes are really cool, but theft is a big problem right now. A semi-decent electric bike is going to cost at least $1,000 and there’s no shortage of crackheads out there ready and waiting to ride off on it. A good lock used to stop them, but the same lithium batteries that run the bike can also be used to run a small angle grinder.

A smaller kick scooter, on the other hand, could be a viable form of transportation. When you get where you’re going, a smaller folding model can even be taken inside where it’ll be safe from theft.

But, you might wonder, what does this look like in the real world? Nobody wants to risk hundreds or thousands of dollars for something that could prove unworkable in the end. Fortunately, some YouTube videos I came across show us exactly how well it works.

Right away, Mike tells us that there are two kinds of people who might buy the Segway GT2 scooter. The obvious one is for people who just want a fun toy. It’s fast and one could definitely have a lot of fun on it. But, he also thinks it’s perfectly useful for actual transportation, even if as a second vehicle. But, rather than assume that and let us spend $3800 to find out whether it’s viable, he decided to try it himself for three days, using it in place of his car.

One big benefit he noticed right away was that this let him take a peaceful and fun trail to his destination instead of regular streets the whole way. This particular scooter has 6 kW worth of motor, so it doesn’t struggle. So, transportation meets fun and mental wellness. One big downside was that there’s no cargo room. So, you’re stuck with only what you can carry in a backpack. Another downside is that the scooter couldn’t really be locked up, and it’s too big to carry indoors except maybe at home.

Another big problem is that this kind of fast scooter is kind of dangerous. Going 40 MPH is sketchy, and you’re even less protected than you’d be on a motorcycle. So, you’ll want to do what he did and wear safety gear. It’s also going to be problematic in inclement weather. But, on good days, it’s easier to park this and get through traffic.

He mentions that this big, fast, expensive scooter isn’t necessarily the best fit for most people. So, I looked into some cheaper ones to see how people did with those.

In this video, Austin shows us what it’s like to use a smaller $1,200 scooter as a car replacement. At half the price, it’s got about half the top speed, but it still seems to be able to climb hills decently well. Right away, the fear was theft. So, he wanted to see if they’d let him take it inside. Fortunately, the Chipotle people were totally fine with him taking it inside, as it doesn’t take much space.

But, he also tried to see how well the scooter would work for a longer trip (about 25 miles from home). I this case, he doesn’t think it’s a great option by itself. But, he took it with him on public transit, using it for the first and last few miles on each leg of the trip. So, this is a great option for places where you can catch a train or something.

For people who want a seat and want to be able to carry the scooter into places, Honda’s got another option we’ve written about before: The Motocompacto.

Basically, micromobility comes in many different shapes and forms, so it’s possible to find one that fits your personal needs. It’s just a matter of looking at what those needs are and figuring out what kind of scooter or other thing can do the job for you without hindering your life too much or getting stolen.

But, fitting your needs and fitting in the places you want to ride are two different things. As we’ve learned, the introduction of rental scooters a few years ago caused some problems.

While owning your own scooter means it won’t sit in the street or clog the sidewalks up, that doesn’t mean other issues, like not being able to ride them on the sidewalks, won’t be a problem. In my experience driving scooters in Phoenix and downtown Los Angeles, I’ve seen that many places just don’t have a bike lane. So, you can either ride in the road and risk getting run over or take your chances on the sidewalk and hope the cops don’t bother you.

So, be sure to check on the situation in your local area before jumping in and buying a scooter for transportation. It can be a real pain in the butt in some places.

Final Thoughts

From what I’ve seen and from the perspectives in these videos, it seems pretty clear that kick scooters are a viable replacement for a car in many cases. Whether that applies to the commuting and errand running you do depends on a number of factors, though.

It seems to me that for most people, a scooter probably works best either as a second vehicle or in conjunction with other forms of transportation. If your commute is very short and you never go very far, it probably works quite nicely. But, if you’re going further, you probably want to carry it in a car or carry it along on transit to get the most out of it. But, like all other things, YMMV.

 


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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1871 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba