Urban Frugality: Save Money Commuting with Electric Scooters

I remember very clearly when electric scooters started showing up all over the streets of San Francisco. Several companies dropped them onto the streets around the same time. A few people loved them. They could save money commuting to work by using them.

Alternatively, tourists could get around easily on them. Unlike Zipcar, they didn’t need to be returned to the same location where they were rented from. Unlike electric bike rentals, they didn’t have to be docked anywhere in particular at all. Ride where you want to go, leave it there.

Scooters Caused Problems in San Francisco

The electric scooters definitely caused a lot of issues. People didn’t seem to know how to ride them, including whether they belonged on sidewalks or streets. They would carelessly leave them anywhere when they were done, blocking access on sidewalks and in doorways.

People fought back. The city responded. The scooters were pulled off of the street. The city requested official proposals and only two companies were allowed limited access to put scooters back on the street.

It all makes sense. More than anything San Franciscans were disgusted with the entitlement of such companies that put their products out there on the streets without asking permission. Moreover, the city wanted to make sure that the companies would be responsible for educating their users about how to co-exist with other people on the street by properly using this new equipment.

Nevertheless, the experience left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Although there are scooters available now, they’re few and far between. There are a lot of scooter haters out there.

Stop the Hate: Save Money Commuting with Scooters

Hating the scooters entirely is a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, though. The companies that put those scooters out there at first did it all wrong. Nevertheless, the scooters themselves aren’t a bad idea.

NerdWallet recently published a smart article highlighting how they actually have many benefits for people who are willing to give them the chance. One of the greatest benefits is that you can save money commuting if you use the scooters.

Of course, this depends a bit on how you already get to work. You pay a small fee when you rent an electric scooter. It generally costs $1 to start the rental then $0.15 per minute as long as you’re riding it.

If you live near where you work, then you could walk and not pay anything at all. If you live further away, then you could take the bus for $2.50. That could be cheaper than the scooter if you’re far enough away. However, if you’re in that sweet spot, where you can’t easily walk to work but you’re not too far away, then you can save money commuting by using a scooter.

Embrace the Eco-Friendly Alternative of Scooters

When I first moved to San Francisco more than a decade ago, I walked almost everywhere. When I didn’t walk, I took the bus. It was only on a really rare occasion, like a long distance to trek in the rain, that I would take a cab.

I confess that now I hop into Lyft rides all of the time. It’s just so easy. However, I’m aware that as convenient as ridesharing is for individuals, it hasn’t been great for the city or the environment. There are many, many more cars on San Francisco streets today than when I first moved here. While some of that can be attributed to an influx of new residents attracted by the tech jobs here, many of whom choose to drive, there’s no denying that Uber and Lyft play a big role.

Almost every time I take a Lyft ride, I ask the driver if they live in the city. They rarely do. They commute in to give rides, adding more cars to our streets than ever before. Even while this is going on, San Francisco continues to strive to meet very ambitious zero-emissions goals. How can the city have no emissions if it embraces more cars?

It’s a tricky issue that will require changes on many fronts. However, electric scooters can be one part of the solution. If used properly, people can save money commuting with them while also reducing the environmental impact of that commute.

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