Bike sharing programs are great, but pedaling up San Francisco‘s steep hills can be a pain. And car sharing is cool, but finding a parking space in the city can be tough. Enter Scoot Networks, an electric scooter-sharing service that will let you power up those hills and park virtually anywhere without using a drop of gas. The service, which is modeled after car-sharing businesses, launched today in San Francisco with a fleet of 60 vehicles. To use the scooters, users simply plug a smartphone into the dashboard, and a Scoot app on the phone activates the bike.
The company was launched by urban planner Michael Keating, who sought to create a solution to the difficulties of getting around a dense city like San Francisco. ”I was trying to think of what could be both fast and cheap,” Keating told the San Francisco Chronicle. And he found a solution while visiting China, where scooters are much more common than they are in the US. The scooters are easy to park, cheap to recharge, and best of all, they produce zero emissions. Each bike in Scoot’s fleet is “so efficient, it uses half the power of your toaster to carry you all over town,” says the Scoot website.
Initially, the company has made 60 scooters available at four locations in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. To use the service, users must sign up for a membership, which starts at $5 per month. Then, as with Zipcar and other vehicle-sharing services, they can reserve a scooter for $5 per hour (or $10 for the entire workday). And like Zipcar, insurance comes at no extra cost, and renters won’t be required to get a motorcycle license (but you do have to wear a helmet).