Shared dockless electric scooters, or e-scooters, transport riders over short distances in cities. Ride share companies promote them as an environmentally friendly choice that reduces dependence on cars.
To properly assess these claims, it’s important to consider all relevant environmental factors, including the materials and energy required to manufacture scooters, the impacts of collecting them daily for charging and redistributing, and the electricity that charges their batteries.
I study methods for assessing environmental impacts of products and materials. In a newly published study, I show that e-scooter programs may have larger total environmental impacts than the transportation modes they displace. But if cities update their policies and mobility companies tweak some of their practices, there are opportunities to make e-scooters a greener option.