A micromobility study found that shared electric scooters have potential to reduce passenger vehicle usage.
A modeling effort of electric scooter systems in European and American cities shows they could reduce vehicle use and but not net greenhouse gas emissions under current conditions.
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Dockless E-Scooter: A Green Solution for Mobility? Comparative Case Study between Dockless E-Scooters, Displaced Transport, and Personal E-Scooters

Summary Information

Electric scooters (e-scooters) are one of the newest forms of shared micromobility in which private companies provide users with access to an e-scooter for a period time for nominal fee. These e-scooters typically can travel about 15-20 miles per hour with a range of about 20-30 miles on one charge. Because of their higher speed and greater range e-scooter may better substitute for vehicle travel than other micromobility modes like bike sharing systems.


To help assess the potential of shared e-scooters to decrease automobile usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, researchers at Université libre de Bruxelles (Free University of Brussels) in Brussels, Belgium conducted a lifecycle analysis of e-scooter systems. In this lifecycle analysis researchers took apart an e-scooter and estimated the greenhouse emissions from the manufacturing, charging, and disposal of these e-scooters. Researchers then conducted an online survey from June to August 2019 in the Brussels metropolitan area and asked respondents about their e-scooter usage patterns, including mode substitution habits. Finally, the research team combine the lifecycle analysis data with the survey data to build a model of the potential environmental affects of e-scooters considering different mode substitution patterns.


Overall, researchers found that about 30 percent of e-scooter trips displace public transport trips, the most frequent mode displaced. Car trips are the second most frequent mode displace (26.7 percent) followed by walking (26 percent) and biking (14 percent). E-scooters have potential to reduce vehicle use, and but not net greenhouse gas emissions under current conditions. Currently, they generate approximately 131 grams of CO2 per passenger kilometer which is higher than the modes they displace. The high emissions are due to the currently short lifespan of most e-scooters and the carbon emissions associated with manufacturing new e-scooters. To increase lifespan, public authorities and operators can focus on discouraging vandalism, increasing maintenance, and discouraging hard riding of e-scooters.

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