While the scooter is developed, Uber needs to work on courting city officials. Yesterday, San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency awarded scooter permits to two companies, Skip and Scoot. Bird, Lime and Spin, the first companies to drop a fleet of scooters in the city, were denied alongside Uber and Lyft. San Monica, however, has given Bird, Lime, Lyft and Jump a 16-month permit for a pilot program starting on September 17th. Through Jump, then, Uber has at least one market to test its own hardware in. The expansion could affect Uber's partnership with Lime, which allows users to rent green scooters through its ride-hailing app.
Electric scooter rentals have been hugely controversial. They're cheap to rent, reduce traditional traffic and help people complete "last mile" journeys. The dockless system, though, means they're regularly discarded on the sidewalk, blocking doorways and causing unnecessary congestion for pedestrians. Like dockless bikes, they're also easily damaged and a prime target for thieves who want a free ride or to sell them for quick cash. These issues are the reason why San Francisco and Santa Monica have introduced purpose-built regulation. Scooters may have a place in our cities, but they need to be implemented in a fair and thoughtful way.