There is no stopping the rise of e-scooters! With more and more companies getting into the market, we’re often coming across the same frequently asked questions. In this guide to e-scooters, we’ll take a look at some common problems users experience and offer solutions.
How much do they cost?
Prices range from company to company and there are multiple payment systems to get your head around. In Europe, Emmy charges €0.19 a minute for driving time, and €0.05 for parking time. The daily cap is €24. There is also a nice deal for new sign-ups at Emmy. You can pay a flat €10 for a total of 50 minutes when you join, to be spread across as many rides as you want.
COUP announced a new pricing model starting April 1st, 2019. It is similar to the minute-based pricing at Emmy. The cost is a little higher, at €0.21 a minute. Even though COUP a little more expensive than Emmy, the daily cap is lower, at €20 for daylight hours (7:00 AM - 7:00 PM) and €10 when the sun goes down (7:00 PM - 7:00 AM). From April 1st, COUP also lowered its age restrictions from 21 to 18 years old.
In the US, Bird charges $1 + $0.15 per minute for rental of its scooters. Both the Lime-S scooters and those from Spin come in at exactly the same rate. Scoot charges $4 for the first 15 minutes and then $0.07 per minute after that for its electric mopeds.
Where can and can’t I park?
Unlike when bicycle-sharing schemes first started to surface and docking-stations were commonplace, modern e-scooter companies have developed the ‘park anywhere’ model. There are a couple of important considerations to take into account, however, before you park up and get on with your day.
Park anywhere, within the boundaries
E-scooter companies operate mostly in city centers and, therefore, there are boundaries in place to keep the spread of the vehicles from dispersing too wide. Typically, e-scooters can only be parked within the inner-city limits. You can see the boundaries on the app. You don’t need to worry about driving outside of the parking area, as long as you remember that you will need to re-enter the defined area to end your rental. Any time spent outside of the parking zone will be billed on the clock, whether you are driving or not.
Anywhere does mean anywhere, but don’t be anti-social
Whilst it is possible to park e-scooters anywhere, it is still important to be sensible when ending your ride. Parking in front of driveways, in loading zones, parks, pedestrian zones, in front of shop windows or in inner courtyards is a just not a nice way to act. Respect your fellow citizens and park up properly.
Gf just texted me what should undoubtedly be the file photo for San Francisco’s dockless scooter backlashhttps://t.co/81ZoHu7yeI— Graham Hancock (@grahamhancock) April 13, 2018
Parking has been one of the main issues in San Francisco where the authorities confiscated hundreds of illegally parked scooters. They eventually kicked them out for good in the summer of 2018.
Do I have to wear a helmet?
All cities have different helmet laws when it comes to e-scooters, bicycles and mopeds. The larger, motorbike-sized vehicles such as Emmy and Coup come with robust helmets provided. If you are driving on the roads, you should always wear a helmet and are most likely required to by law. If you are unsure of whether you need to wear a helmet in your city, it is worth spending the time to look it up with your local department of transport before you set off. You will save yourself a potential fine maybe even your life by wearing a helmet when using an e-scooter.
Do I need a driver’s license?
Almost certainly, yes. Even the more lightweight e-scooters such as those from Lime, require a driver’s license to ride. You don’t need a special motorbike license, however, as all of the e-scooters on the market today are capped at speed limits that allow holders of a regular driver’s license to ride them. In some countries, such as Germany, any vehicle that can reach speeds of 25 km/h or more requires a license - that includes Lime’s e-scooters which are right around that limit in terms of top speed.
You will be asked to provide your driver’s license upon signing up for your e-scooter service. Once your license is verified, you are free to begin using the e-scooters. You don’t need to use your license to rent an e-scooter each time, but you should always carry it with you when riding. If you are registering with a license that was not issued in the jurisdiction you are now living, such as a non-EU license in an EU country, the verification process could take longer and you may be required to schedule a Skype call in order to complete your registration.
What do I do if my scooter runs out of battery?
There is not a lot you can do if you are driving and your scooter runs out of battery, you can take steps to make sure that doesn’t happen. When you rent an e-scooter, you’ll find the current battery level displayed for each individual vehicle. It looks slightly different depending on which app you use but can see two examples in the image below:
You can’t charge the scooters yourself if you run out of juice. Once they drop below a certain level, the operators pull them from the system to replace the battery with a full one. Be careful when taking a spin outside of the parking zone. If you run out of battery whilst outside the zone, you are going to have a problem getting back in bounds to park and end your ride.
In the US, Lime uses staff the company like to call ‘Juicers’ that prowl the streets collecting, charging and redistributing e-scooters.
What happens if I crash or damage the bike?
Most e-scooter companies come with personal liability and full collision coverage. Be sure to check the terms and conditions carefully for your preferred provider for full details. Emmy, for example, caps payments at either €250 for its Torrot Muvi scooters and €350 for the Schwalbe lovelies. Unless you are deemed to have caused the damage via reckless driving, in which case you are liable for a lot more.
In the US, things are a little more complicated. Almost all of the e-scooter rental companies’ standard policy is that, besides general wear and tear, riders are liable for all damages. Scoot, however, caps the charge at $500. The maximum fees for lost or stolen scooters in the US are also pretty eye-watering. Lose a scooter on your watch and you can be charged up to $5,000 depending on the company. You’d better hope they can track it down via GPS before
Can I buy a scooter for myself?
Sure! You can buy the same Schwalbe scooters that Emmy uses in Berlin online or in a store in the German capital. Prices start at €5,390 with optional extras such as ABS brakes, custom seat designs and an extra battery for €790 to increase range from 50km to 100km.
COUP’s e-scooters are made by a company called Gogoro and are only available in Taiwan. COUP has an exclusivity deal with the manufacturer for the EU market.
There are plenty of options for fans of Lime’s smaller e-scooters including a $600 foldable version made by the Chinese smartphone (and much more!) brand Xiaomi.
Can I park and then come back to the same scooter?
Absolutely! If you are using an e-scooter to nip to the shops or want to grab a quick coffee and it still where you left it there when you’re done, you can usually pause your rental. This involves parking up and either activating a pause option on the app, or simply taking out the key and carrying it with you. You will typically be charged a reduced rate for parking time compared to the standard rate for driving time, but you are still on the clock and, therefore, still being billed for the time.
You can, of course, take the risk that nobody else will rent the e-scooter while you are away from it, thus getting ‘free’ parking, but if you want the peace of mind the pause option is the way to go.
What about bringing a friend along for the ride?
With Emmy, yes. Two helmets are included and you can take a friend along. With COUP, no. Only one helmet is included under the seat. Although, I have seen two on a single COUP in Berlin, but people in the German capital are not exactly what you would describe as sticklers for the rules....
I’ve heard these scooter companies are collecting our data, is that true?
Yes, to an extent. Bird and Spin in the US have admitted to collecting GPS data that is shared certain city authorities such as San Francisco, but both say they won’t sell it to third parties.
In Europe, Emmy says that it does not forward any personal information to third parties without your express approval or legal basis, as does COUP.
Where can I sign up?
I mean, come on, you know this by now, but just in case here are some easy links to the most popular e-scooter rental apps available right now.
- Bird (US)
- Limebike (US)
- Spin (International)
- Emmy (Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart)
- COUP (Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Tübingen)
Do you have a question related to e-scooters that you’d like us to answer? Let us know in the comments below.