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In cities across Michigan and across the country, shareable electric scooters are popping up on street corners, popular venues, and college campuses.  Meant to be a helpful alternative where cars are not practical or available, the two-wheeled motorized devices are unlocked and paid for by use of an app.  The rider locates a scooter by use of a GPS tag, activates the scooter with an initial fee, then pays per mile.  When the rider reaches his or her location, the scooter is left for the next user.  Eventually the company, such as Lime or Bird, will pay someone to collect, charge, and redistribute the scooters.

While this may sound like a good idea in theory, in practice it has caused nightmares for municipalities and riders alike.  Many cities do not have ordinances governing the use of these devices.  Even where there are ordinances, riders either do not know the rules or ignore them, posing a risk to motorists, pedestrians, and themselves.

The scooters can travel quite fast – 15 miles per hour – and can be difficult to balance.  Speed, instability, rider inexperience, and lack of protective equipment provide a recipe for very serious injuries in the event of a crash.  The care and upkeep of the scooters, or lack thereof, can also contribute to unsafe conditions.

As cities and riders struggle to balance transportation requirements with new technology, the fate of shareable electric scooters is currently an open question.

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