During the last few years, shared electric kick scooter systems such as Voi and Tier have become common where I live. The system consists of a number of shared electric kick scooters scattered around in a city. The scooters have positioning devices, allowing finding them easily and ensuring that they are only used in the allowed city center area, and also during the end of a day the rental company collects all of the scooters with a van, charges them overnight and early in the morning the charged scooters (those that were not broken, that is) are distributed around the city.
The shared e-scooter systems have had a large amount of criticism:
- They are often parked randomly, making it hard to walk if the sidewalk has lots of randomly scattered scooters that are often not in standing position
- They have a very high injury rate per kilometer, far above that of bicycles, probably around that of motorcycles
- The scooters have a short lifetime and often break early, so the company needs to continuously discard a large stream of broken scooters and replace them with new scooters
- The diesel van that collects the scooters during the end of the day and distributes them again for use early in the morning causes emissions even though the scooters themselves are advertised as "emission free"
I have already calculated that for a person earning average salary and paying corresponding tax, it usually doesn't make sense to rent such a shared scooter. Walking the distance is bit slower, but the value of the time a scooter would save is somewhat smaller than the total cost of the scooter rental.
But what is the total climate impact of these shared scooter systems, per kilometer? A calculation should include both the manufacturing and disposal impact (taking into account the average short lifetime of a used scooter), and also the climate impact of collecting and distributing the scooters with a diesel van. The climate impact of charging is probably very minimal.