More about E-Scooters

What is an E-Scooter?

E-scooters are stand-up devices that are powered by a small electric motor, and are made available for short-term rental. They generally require a few manual kickstarts on the ground to build enough speed, and then a user can accelerate or brake by means of throttles located on the e-scooter’s handlebars. Users can steer with the handlebars and balance by standing on the e-scooter’s deck one foot in front of the other. E-scooters in Durham are “dockless,” meaning they do not have a fixed home location, and can be picked up and dropped off at any location that does not impede pedestrians, drivers, or bicyclists within the city’s service area.

Many companies began operating in cities in 2018 without a local city’s permission or an ordinance regulating these systems. The City of Durham Transportation Department proactively worked to ensure that companies would be allowed to operate within the city limits while meeting the City’s transportation needs and regulations. The Shared Active Transportation Ordinance spelled out these rules for those interested in operating e-scooters in Durham, and allows the City to regulate scooter providers.  The Transportation Department instituted a data-sharing agreement with interested companies, in which real-time data collected from rides will be used to improve the shared active transportation system.

Why E-Scooters?

  • E-scooters provide another transportation choice for residents within the city, especially for shorter personal trips. 
  • E-scooters help residents and visitors make first- and last-mile connections for transit trips, which improves transportation access for residents who do not have a car or who prefer not to drive. E-scooters are also popular compliments to other active modes of transportations, such as biking or walking.
  • E-scooters are an environment-friendly alternative to driving, with lower carbon footprints than cars. An average scooter is estimated to emit 3,500 grams of carbon daily, about 2% of the CO2 that a car would produce.
  • E-scooters have also been popular across the country, emerging in cities including Portland, San Francisco, Austin, Washington D.C., and Charlotte. An estimated 38.5 million e-scooter trips were taken in the United States in 2018.
  • The recent 2017-2018 bike share pilot shows that there is an appetite for shared active transportation in Durham. Over 2,000 new users used a bike share bike each month. Over 61,000 trips were completed with riders accumulating over 50,000 miles during the pilot period.
  • Data about where residents are using e-scooters can help the City to improve its multi-modal transportation network.