Electric scooters are parked at a docking station. Photo: Swiftmile

If you live in a city, chances are that you’ve seen dockless scooters being used as an alternative form of transportation but more so, you’ve probably noticed them being scattered haphazardly after riders are finished with their ride. This has been a big problem for cities as scooters left in walkways have been the cause of injury for pedestrians. However, as urban areas tackle traffic congestion and look to become more walkable, bikeable (and scooter-able) simply banning scooters isn’t the solution considering their popularity (they’re more popular than docked bikes). Now, some cities like Washington D.C. and Ann Arbor, MI are working with scooter companies on a practical compromise. As the Washington Post reported, the plan being launched by the electric scooter company Spin and a California start-up called Swiftmile — involves installing dozens of electric solar-powered docking stations on sidewalks as a way to charge e-scooters, give riders a designated place to park their devices and draw more foot traffic to particular locations.

The Post also explained that:

  • Benjamin Fong, Spin’s director of business development, said 40 docking stations built by Swiftmile will be placed in Washington over the summer and 10 will be placed in Ann Arbor.
  • For now, he said, the solar-powered stations will be compatible only with scooters from Spin, a San Francisco-based scooter-sharing company focused on the “last mile” transportation market.
  • Last year, Ford Motor Co. announced that it had purchased Spin. The $100 million purchase means Ford joins companies such as Alphabet, Uber and Lyft — all of which have poured millions into the upstart e-scooter revolution.

Scooters aren’t going anywhere anytime soon so cities might as well optimize their use and ensure that people with disabilities aren’t having to navigate around a cluttered mess of scooters along city sidewalks. 

Why This Matters: While scooters aren’t an alternative to robust expansion of public transportation they can help cities fills transportation gaps where they exist. The partnership with Spin and Swiftmile will use docking stations powered from 100% solar power so these scooters will be a truly sustainable form of transportation at a low cost to customers. As competitor scooter company Bird discovered, collecting scooters to take them to charging stations was driving up the carbon footprint of their company, hopefully, these new solar docking stations can solve the problem of scooter clutter and drive other scooter companies to become more sustainable as well.

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