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San Francisco launches electric scooter sharing

Posting in Cities

In a city that's considering changing the building code to allow micro-apartments as small as 220 square feet, there won't be a lot of extra room to store personal transportation like bikes and scooters. Still, there are times when getting around hilly San Francisco on two legs won't do, when carshare is unnecessary, when transit is too slow, and when the best option might just be a scooter.

At least that's what a new electric scooter sharing startup is betting on.

Scoot Networks has launched a beta version of its scooter sharing services with 50 scooters at four locations throughout San Francisco.

The service works much like bikeshare or carshare. You signup to become a member and pay by the hour or a flat rate for overnight use ($5 per hour, $10 for an entire workday, or $10 for overnight). You can also rent the scooters by the month (with a helmet, scheduled maintenance, and insurance included). Though, you must return the scooter to the same location (but there are no late fees!).

Interestingly, the scooters use smartphone as keys (a bummer for universal accessibility), Ariel Schwartz explains at Fast Company: "[E]ach scooter has a smartphone dock. When a rider places their smartphone in the dock, the scooter unlocks and the phone transforms into a dashboard, offering info on range as well as a map."

As for the scooters themselves, they go between 25-30 mph (not that you're going much faster in the city anyway) and have a range of 20-30 miles. One downside is that charging takes about 8 hours, which could be problematic with only 50 bikes available.

There are definitely some advantages other sharable transportation services have over scooter sharing. With the scooters you can rent them for less than 48 hours without a motorcycle license. Anything more and you'll need one. And, regardless of how long you ride, an orientation is required before you can ride for the first time. Plus, at least for now, scooter share is only available to local residents. You can't rent one on your visit to San Francisco.

Still, the scooters should fill a niche for San Francisco residents looking for a quick option to get around town.

Scoot Networks is looking to grow their fleet in San Francisco. Next year they hope to expand to other cities.

[Via Fast Company]

Photo: Scoot Networks

— By on September 27, 2012, 6:52 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure