Updated: Jul 8, 2019
For the last several months, I’ve been commuting with an electric scooter.
It started as a way to reduce my carbon footprint, but I’ve ended up saving an average of $30 and 30 minutes each day -- and I’m having more fun, too.
Here’s why I switched up my commute and decided to buy an electric scooter.
Who Am I?
I lead strategy for Profitero, a venture-backed e-commerce analytics company. I’m the proud husband of Meghan Keaney Anderson, a marketing executive at Hubspot (currently ranked #6 on the Green Streets Challenge leaderboard!) and proud father of Evelyn, who recently became the first in our family to drive an electric car. We live in Somerville, and I work in downtown Boston.
Why a Greener Commute?
Since the recent release of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that estimates that mankind has 12 years to limit a global temperature increase of 1.5 C, I have been looking for ways to make an impact.
Along with converting to renewable energy and choosing local and plant-based foods more often, transitioning to a more environmentally-friendly commute kept appearing as substantial ways individuals can reduce their carbon footprint, like this list* from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
What prompted me to change my commute was ultimately a combination of environmental and practical considerations.
I live on Prospect Hill in Somerville. The exciting Green Line Extension (GLX) project is being built near my house, but for now, my public transit options are limited. Construction and population growth are increasing congestion.
For the last few years, I commuted with Uber and Lyft. While door-to-door service is convenient, my 3.2 mile commute was averaging 45-60 minutes each way. My daily costs were $30-$50 -- pretty expensive, but not drastically more expensive than renting a parking spot near my office.
Every day during my commute, I saw vehicles designed for six or more people, yet occupied by just one or two, idling and crawling.
My commute typically routed me on Monsignor O’Brien Highway, past a Mercedes dealership with a helipad on its roof.
One evening, I saw the helicopter take off from the car dealership. It hovered for a moment, then angled its nose down and sped away. Minutes went by, and I had barely moved. Neither had the cars around me.
I couldn’t help but imagine the helicopter’s occupants amusedly tapping their fingers together and faintly smiling as they hurtled over city arteries clogged with high-emission cars they had sold us to buy a high-emission helicopter to avoid all that congestion.
Though I had heard the phrase many times, it wasn’t until that moment that I really understood that I wasn’t “stuck in traffic” -- I was traffic.
My commute wasn’t sustainable, it wasn’t working for me, and I was adding to the congestion affecting all of us. Time to change.
Why an Electric Scooter?
As I started to rethink my commute, I had two basic criteria:
1. Minimize my carbon footprint
2. Don’t be traffic
Why a scooter? Why not a bike or another electric vehicle like an electric car, e-bike, electric skateboard, or unicycle?
Any of those could have been a reasonable choice for many people. These are the reasons an electric scooter appealed to me:
Portability & storage - Most electric scooters fold, and some are small and lightweight enough to bring on a train or a bus. I keep mine indoors at home and under my desk at the office.
Power - I can climb hills and travel miles without breaking a sweat.
Safety & stability - While e-skateboards and unicycles also look fun (and I see more and more of them on my commute), I thought the learning curve would be shorter on a scooter. I thought the e-scooter’s handlebar and optional suspension would keep me safer and stabler on hills and patchy terrain.
Fun - My main considerations were functional, but the dockless scooters I had ridden were pretty fun.