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Shared electric scooters are now more popular than docked bikes

Imani Williams, a recent graduate of Columbia College, took Lime's new scooter model for a test ride on the riverfront Saturday. Lime is hoping to have scooters on Chicago's streets by May, but the city hasn't moved forward with an ordinance. | Savannah Eadens/Sun-Times

NEW YORK — Electric scooters are overtaking station-based bicycles as the most popular form of shared transportation outside transit and cars. The scooters haven’t arrived in Chicago yet despite the efforts of Lime, the billion-dollar company that’s provided them to cities around the country, but they’re emerging elsewhere as a preferred way to get around.

City transportation officials in Chicago have delayed the arrival of electric scooters onto local streets as the mull the details of such a rollout. Lime says it wants to launch the city-wide program in May, although it’s unclear whether the city will allow that to happen.

Riders took 38.5 million trips on shared electric scooters in 2018. That eclipsed the 36.5 million trips riders took on shared, docked bicycles, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Scooter companies are facing challenges from every direction including vandalism, theft, rider injuries, intense competition and aggressive regulations in cities across the U.S.

Yet the scooter industry persists, and venture capitalists, ride-hailing companies and traditional auto manufacturers continue to pour millions into the fledgling companies.

Companies are jockeying for strategic position in the so-called micromobility revolution, where consumers are embracing ride-hailing services, scooters, bikes and shared cars that can be hailed and paid for by smartphones.

Sun-Times reporter Satchel Price contributed to this article.