#ITriedIt: A Ranking of Electric Scooters

 

 

Scan a QR code, ride, park, pay. Seems pretty simple, right? I felt like a kid again zooming around town with these scooter options. Lime, Jump by Uber, Lyft, Bolt, Bird and Skip are six of the main scooter companies within the Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington and Washington, D.C. area. These scooters can be found parked on sidewalks or to locate a specific scooter, one can download the company’s app and be provided with the location of nearby ones. 

1. Lime 

Via Author Jenny Muchnikoff

I liked that this scooter has a bright lime green design which makes it easy to spot by surrounding pedestrians and drivers. Their fees are straightforward being a $1.00 start fee and .15 cents per every minute used. This rate doesn’t vary based on speed or mileage. An entire hour using a Lime scooter would only cost the rider $10. I also like that you have the option to add money to a wallet for future rides but aren’t forced to do so. Like most apps, there is a user guide manual with instructions on how to operate the throttle, breaks, and stay safe while riding. Overall, using Lime is easy and painless, especially for first-time scooterers like myself. 

2. Jump by Uber

Jump is not available in Virginia but is available in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. One must have the Uber app downloaded, click the icon in the top middle of the screen, and tap the  “Bike and Scooter” option. Like most scooter apps you unlock them through scanning the QR code with your phone. The pricing is the same as Lyft and Bird’s with a $1 fee to unlock the scooter with .15 cents for every minute after. Unlike most scooter apps, Jump requires you to take a picture of a valid license before riding in an effort to reduce illegal riding of scooters by minors. There is a designated service area which the scooter must be returned, properly parked, which is enforced with a $25 fee. The app also includes a safety tool kit with instructions on how to properly operate the bark and directions to always check local laws before riding which can be uber helpful for anyone not familiar with scooters. 

3. Lyft

Found locally in Alexandria, Arlington and Washington, D.C. the Lyft scooter is almost identical to Jump by Uber. The rental process occurs through the Lyft app, requires a user to be 18 years of age with a valid license, and has the same pricing Bird and Uber. The main differences are that Lyft’s maximum time to rent is 12 hours instead of 24 and riders can face up to $100 of fees if they park outside of the designated areas or areas that are not easily accessible. This scooter was especially easy to rent as I already had the Lyft app downloaded. The scooter itself was easy to navigate and was able to accelerate or break quickly when I needed to. 

4. Bolt

I had high hopes for the scooter backed by Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt himself. However, this scooter and its app were disappointing. The design where you put a foot on each side made it more difficult to ride and keep my balance compared to other scooters. While it may partly be my own clumsiness, many other users left reviews on the app claiming the same problem with shakiness and that they didn’t feel sturdy. The app is safety-conscious, advising riders to wear helmets and abide by local rules. Bolt also provides several ways to earn discounts on their next ride such as recommending a friend to the app and will soon provide discounts for passing the scooter on to the next rider. 

Via Jenny Muchnikoff

5. Bird

Bird was one of my least favorite options. While there was nothing wrong with the scooter itself, the customer service and app infuriated me. To ride you have to add a minimum of $10 that automatically renews when your balance reaches zero. If you want to cancel this automatic renewal you have to contact their customer service through the app. Their pricing is also inconsistent and confusing. Their pricing varies per city, but for Washington, D.C. their website claims that their minimum is $1 and an additional .15 cents for every minute. However, for a ten-minute ride, I was charged $3.90 before tax. According to their pricing model, this ride should have cost $2.50. I reached out to customer service to inquire about the discrepancy. I was credited the extra $1.45 but was left without an answer to my questions regarding their pricing standards.

Via Bird and Jenny Muchnikoff 

6. Skip

The main reason I ranked Skip last is because their license is temporarily suspended for Arlington, Alexandria and Washington, D.C.  after a scooter caught fire within a warehouse end of May of this year. Arlington and Alexandria spokespersons said that the scooter company would have to undergo safety evaluations before their licensing could be reapproved. The company recently stated that they expect a “speedy and responsible return to D.C.” Aside from this isolated incident, Skip has been dedicated to the safety of their riders, providing free helmets to any rider that requests one through their website. Skip is slightly pricier than other apps charging 25 cents per minute in addition to their $1 start fee. While most scooter companies hire independent contractors or have their own employees charge their scooters, Skip hires what are known as “Rangers” to charge the scooters overnight in their home. Anyone can apply to be a Ranger and Skip supplies them with charging supplies and will pay between $5 and $10 per scooter charged. I can’t wait to try out a Skip scooter once they’re back on the streets.

 

Remember to stay safe kids. Stick to the bike lanes and wear your helmets!