Dockless scooters have popped up all over the country, and all overnight.

And while you may associate scooters with block parties and childhood fun, they are actually undergoing a reinvention as a viable transportation option for everyone.

I first noticed dockless scooters on a trip to Comic Con in San Diego last summer. I make the pilgrimage annually with my family, but this year there was an unexpected addition to the downtown cityscape.

Scooters. Scooters everywhere!

Bright green electric scooters lined the street corners, making an appearance on almost every block we walked down. It floored me.

So how does this scooter system work? That’s the best part. It’s actually quite innovative.

It starts with individuals who sign up via an app, and are paid to collect and recharge the scooters at night. Then in the morning, they redistribute the scooters to areas where pedestrians are most likely to need them. These people serve as a crowd-sourced “scooter-tender” of sorts.

What’s really incredible about this scooter Renaissance is there was hardly any infrastructure required to make it happen. Infrastructure is so often the area that makes it difficult for municipalities to innovate.

Instead, scooter companies innovate in spite of a bureaucratic, often complex transportation system. They are constantly regulating in real time, by balancing the needs of the city with the needs of the consumers by responding to concerns and experimenting with solutions.

And voila! A new transportation system is created seemingly overnight.

For Comic Con, this proved to be invaluable. With over 100,000 extra people swarming the city’s waterfront Convention Center that weekend, it had the potential to create a temporary transportation crisis.

But San Diego is hardly a unique example of how dockless scooters are transforming urban landscapes. Across the country, pedestrians, individual scooter tenders and municipalities are coming together to experiment and improve upon these new transportation networks.

We all have a hand in the evolution of this new technology and unlike many new inventions, we are watching the trial and error happening right in front of our eyes!

Published on May 23, 2019 – by Larry B. Jordan