When we were in San Francisco back in April, we made an incredible discovery that changed our trip. Scattered all around the city streets are electric scooters, and although we dismissed them as something rather odd at first, on the second day of our trip I decided to Google what was going on.
These scooters are available to rent by the general public, and its sorta like a cross between Uber and Pokemon Go. There are three companies – Bird, Lime and Spin – who have scooters in the city, and all you need to do is download their apps to get started (some will require your driving licence number). Each scooter has a GPS tracker, so you can use the app to locate nearby scooters, and then when you find one, you simply scan the QR code on the scooter to unlock it, and you’re good to go!
It costs $1 to unlock your scooter, and then its 15c a minute to ride, and you’ll be told when you unlock your scooter how much battery it has left so you know how far you can get before you unlock it. Their super simple to operate – you just give it a few manual pushes with your foot, then hold down the little accelerator button on the handlebars to activate the electric motor, and there’s a brake fitted to the handlebar too.
Riding around the city on these scooters is the most fun! Technically, they’re only supposed to be ridden on the road in designated cycle lanes as they’re actually road legal vehicles, but most people use them on the pavements. They don’t handle the infamous San Francisco hills all too well, but if you’re journey is fairly flat then you won’t have any problems! And when you’re done, you just leave your scooter wherever you are, lock it through the app and you’ll be charged for your time.
If you’re a local, you can also use these scooters to make a bit of cash by becoming a ‘charger’ – the companies use normal people to collect up scooters when the batteries are running low, and pay about $10 per scooter that they charge up!
I honestly really wish we had more things like this in the UK – I guess they’re the scooter equivalent of a Boris bike, but its way more fun being on a scooter! These companies operate in quite a few cities in the US, so if you’ve got a trip coming up, definitely hit their websites and find out where you might be able to get a scooter!