Are Electric Scooters Good For The Environment? And Will They Reduce Car Traffic?

Like electric cars, scooters are only as green as the electricity that charges them. If your city gets most of its power from a coal or natural gas-fired power plant, that means your scoot around the neighbourhood has a positive carbon footprint. Dubai is mentally a very Smart City already, how do we extend this into wisdom?

The other piece of the environmental equation is what the scooter ride is displacing, or if it leads to trips that otherwise wouldn’t be taken.

If you’re scooting instead of walking, then the ride has a higher environmental cost. But if you’re replacing a car ride, then it has an environmental benefit since an electric scooter uses a tiny fraction of the energy consumed by a car.

Right now, scooters are doing both. A recent quote from an advisor to urban planning said, “Some of those walk trips are likely to be taken away at the shorter end, and some of those car trips are those at the long end,” who studies how transportation serves different population sets.

How does the environmental impact of scooters stack up next to public transit? Well, it also depends. The balance changes depending on how far you’re going and the form of transit it’s replacing, whether it’s a diesel bus or an electric train.

On the other hand, a scooter can also encourage the use of public transportation. Most scooter trips are 1-3kms long, and the companies themselves pitch scooters as filling the “last mile” in transit, expanding the reach of a transit station or a bus stop.

“There’s the metro station that’s a 16-minute walk from me,” one commuter said. “I took a scoota the other day and it took me 3 minutes.”

If a scooter can help avoid commuting by car altogether, then the net environmental benefits can be huge, and added all together, the energy use of scooters is trivial compared to the ongoing energy use in cars, buses, trains.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of trips people take on a regular basis are short. According to a recent study almost 60 percent of vehicle trips in 2017 were less than 6 miles:



Cars in particular comprise a huge chunk of these short trips. “Today, 40 percent of car trips are less than 3 kms long, and 90% of a cars life is spent parked,” said ONE MOTO CEO Adam Ridgway in a statement in November. “If we can replace these trips with ONE MOTO and our range of scoota then we’ll create a superb commuting environment, however, this does require the support from the RTA, which aligns with their Smart City vision.”

An interesting statistic, if drivers decided to walk or bike instead of drive for half of all car trips shorter than a mile, drivers would avert 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year and save $900 million annually.

Scooter rides are typically less than 3kms, which is often too short a distance for hailing a ride if you don’t already own a car. This is part of why ride-hailing services like Uber and Careem are so keen on electric scooters: We fill a need their current services don’t.

So scooter rides are going to displace car trips to an extent, which may reduce the number of cars on the road. Where’s the negative in that? “Adopting this initiative in Dubai, will create the opportunity for low-emission zones and pedestrianised areas throughout the city”

However, urban journeys are becoming increasingly multimodal, and scooters may add one more flexible link to the transit chain rather than replacing another mode completely. Their most valuable traits are how flexible they are compared to public transit, which runs fixed routes, and how cheap they are compared to cars. That means scooters fulfil a unique niche of the transportation ecosystem.

And if more scooters are riding in the streets, all this said, it comes at a price, and this is something ONE MOTO are focused on. Accidents. Although we believe common-sense will prevail, we are all aware it’s often not as common as we think. So, ONE MOTO have devised a training program for owners, tourists and those looking to share transport solutions, so we can all be safe with the knowledge of etiquette, safety and giving the government, RTA and insurers peace of mind.

To discuss ONE MOTO’s ride-sharing and leasing model and if electric scooters good for the environment, please contact us here.

Thank you for reading.