electric scooters are the Segways of 2019

A friend and former employee of mine bought one of the early Segway Personal Transporters back in 2002. Remember those? I got to ride it one time and thought it was fun. He used it to commute several miles daily, at least in the summer. The inventor, Dean Kamen, said they were going to change the world, and he started to do some urban design prototyping of the wider sidewalks that he thought all major cities would need to support the massive amount of Segway traffic, once they replace cars.

But they didn’t. The product was expensive. People laughed at the idea of riding around in the city standing upright on an electric wheeled contraption. Sales were nowhere near what Segway hoped, and they eventually sold the company to the Chinese. People kept driving.

Fast forward almost 20 years. Now, there’s someone on an electric scooter on every block in Denver, usually several of them. What one generation thought was stupid the next generation thinks is a great way to get around. Of course, the price has come down by a factor of 20, and you can now rent one with your smartphone for a dollar rather than plunking down several grand to buy your own. Maybe that’s the differentiator.

Categorized as Drivel


  1. Todd, would be good if they are successful in Denver with the scooters. Some places they’ve tried them, they had to shut system down until they worked out some kinks such as making it more difficult for renters to just abandon the machines. Not sure how much wintery weather in Denver might have negative impact – maybe just use them as a 3-season machine.

    1. I think use was much lower than in the summer, but I do remember people riding electric scooters in the snow last winter. I’d be afraid of sliding around and running into something or someone – same reason I never rode my motorcycle in the snow.

  2. Segway riding was fun and very stable. I have never tried the scooters, but would probably crash someplace, especially going over a curb. Not sure how I would get my groceries home but I suppose they are essentially meant for urbanites that eat out most of the time.

    1. I often see people riding an electric scooter with one or two bags of groceries. Yesterday, I saw someone riding an electric scooter with his girlfriend holding on behind him, like you might see on a motorcycle. And I also saw a different guy on a scooter carrying his dog in his arms while riding down the middle of the street.

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