If you’ve been downtown lately, you’ve probably noticed the latest transportation trend to hit the streets of Salt Lake City. Electric scooters have descended upon The Beehive State, and they’re creating quite a buzz.
Two companies, Lime and Bird, have deployed hundreds of ready-to-ride scooters at convenient locations around the city. Since they don’t need to be docked and locked, there’s always one nearby—an advantage over transit options like bike sharing and TRAX light rail. Simply hop on your smartphone to see a map of available scooters near you and be on your way, at up to 15 mph, in a matter of minutes. Once arriving at your destination, just leave your scooter on the sidewalk for the next person looking for a lift.
Whether you’re going a few blocks or a few miles, scooters have proven to be a quick, cost-effective, environmentally friendly way to get there. Starting at just $1 a ride, they’re perfect for short- to medium-distance trips where slogging it on foot would be cumbersome, but a ride-sharing app like Lyft or Uber seems overkill.
Pairing a scooter ride with another mode of transportation, like driving or TRAX, makes downtown navigation even easier. Instead of driving in circles in search of a parking spot near that new restaurant everyone’s clamoring to check out, just park where it’s convenient, and then enjoy a fun scooter ride the rest of the way.
Here’s how to give one a spin:
Download one of the apps on your smartphone (Lime or Bird)
Use the app to find the closest scooter to your current location
Unlock the scooter with your phone
Give it a push to get rolling
Press the throttle with your thumb to zoom off into the sunset
When you’re done, park the scooter at your destination and end your ride in the app. (Don’t be a jerk—make sure your scooter is out of the way and not blocking public pathways. Parking it next to a bike rack, tree, or sign is a good move.)
There’s even an opportunity to make a little money. Both companies offer enterprising individuals a cash incentive to collect scooters that are low on juice, charge them overnight, and deploy them in popular areas the next day.
Scooting expeditions aren’t just about traveling from point A to point B; they can be a key part of your Salt Lake adventure. Here are a few ideas:
Check off a handful of Salt Lake Connect Pass attractions. Start at the Clark Planetarium, scoot up to the Leonardo, then hop on Trax at the Library Station, ride up to the Fort Douglas Station, and scoot to the Utah Museum of Fine Art, the Natural History Museum of Utah, and Red Butte Garden. Feeling ambitious? Tack on a tour of the Tracy Aviary.
And here’s a romantic way to test the ad hoc mobility of scooters: Spice up your date night with a three-course meal at three separate restaurants in different neighborhoods. Start the evening at your favorite watering hole to whet the appetite (try White Horse for an aperitif dowtown), enjoy a self-guided tour on your way to fine dining across town (maybe Pago in 9th & 9th), and scoot aboot to end the night with your favorite dessert—Hatch Family Chocolates in the Avenues would be a hilly adventure).
Like all fun things, these electric hogs should be enjoyed responsibly. Sidewalks are for pedestrian traffic only, so do your cruising in bike lanes or in the road close to the curb. Scooters move quickly, are virtually silent, and can be hard for cars to see, so fight the urge to dip and dodge through the streets, and follow all traffic rules—remember: the driver won’t be the one who’s the worse for wear in event of a run-in. Riders must be 18 years or older with a valid driver’s license, and should always wear a helmet.