Those of you who know me know my love for anything cars or transportation-related. Unsurprisingly, in the past eight years or so that I’ve lived in the Bay Area, I’ve tried out many of the latest transportation apps and services. There was even that year I drove for an Uber/Lyft competitor called Sidecar as a side hustle.
I’ve followed the rise of Scoot since 2014, but I never found a reason to sign up because I own a car and a motorcycle (yes, I know, wholly impractical in the city). But recently, my friend Mike shared his experience riding Scoots, and after hearing about the one-way ride flexibility, I was convinced. I signed up that day.
What is Scoot?
If you live or work in the city, you’ve probably noticed these red electric mopeds zipping around traffic during rush hour. Scoot is basically the Zipcar of scooters – rentals start at $3 and you can pick them up in public garages or on the street. By far one of the best features is that Scoots can be dropped off anywhere in the city marked in a blue zone. More on that in a bit.
The scooters themselves are quite impressive, and this is coming from someone who’s ridden plenty of different bicycles and motorcycles. The entire unlock and start process is controlled through your smartphone, which you place in the enclosed center phone cradle and turns your device into an instrument panel. Two sizes of helmets are included in the back storage box.
The new American-built GenZe 2.0 models have a comfortable seating position, accelerate quickly, and handle fairly well around town. Extra points for the front disc brakes and larger wheels. The only drawback, which was more tactical than technical, is a 30-mph top speed. But that’s to make it possible to ride them without special licenses, and in my experience the scooter still keeps pace with city traffic, even on hills, quite well!
The pricing is straightforward, too. Rides start at $3 for 30 minutes if you return the scooter to any partner garage. It’s an extra dollar to park on the street in designated blue zones (which cover a vast portion of the city) or to reserve the larger Cargo Scoots. All in all, a typical ride is $3-4, and there’s no annual membership fee. All pricing is clearly displayed when you plan a trip using the Scoot app.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve taken 5 rides and all of them have been positive. I’ve ridden Scoots to visit friends, carry groceries, and even pick up my car which I left parked after a (fun) night out. The best part is that it’s given me a super-flexible option to get around San Francisco. I’ve included several examples below of how Scoot could fit into your day-to-day life in the city.
Example #1: After-Work Commuting
I’ve been fairly fortunate to live within walking distance of my job. But I have many co-workers and friends who live in the city and have to figure out how to get home after an already-stressful day at work. Typical options include Muni (bus and light rail), Uber/Lyft, and Chariot for longer city commutes. However, these options fall under the slow-but-inexpensive or fast-but-expensive dichotomy. I see Scoot as the best of both worlds – fast but inexpensive. No more dealing with crowded buses or Uber/Lyft carpool rides that require multiple detours. No more paying a dinner’s-worth to get home quickly. You can just hop on a Scoot after work for a few bucks, and beat the traffic while you’re at it!
Example #2: One-Way Trips
As I mentioned earlier, this is where Scoot truly shines, possibly making it an even better option than the new Ford GoBikes bicycle rental stations. You can start your ride in one location and drop the scooter off pretty much anywhere else in the blue zones, resulting in the ultimate flexibility. Meeting up at a friend’s but not sure if you’ll come back later to the same place? Going out to the bars during the weekend? Beating rush-hour traffic but it might rain on your return trip? You can reserve a one-way ride and not worry about the Scoot after you park it. It’s an incredible feeling and super practical.
Example #3: Running Errands
Another good usage of Scoot is to run quick errands around the city. You can hang the extra helmet outside of the large rear storage box, and there’s enough room in there to fit at least a couple bags of groceries. If you’re making a quick 30-minute run, the round trip could cost as little as $3 without the worry of dealing with hills while carrying everything back. An added bonus is that you don’t even need to pay for parking if you park between meters in a blue zone. And if you’re going all out and doing a Costco run, just rent the Cargo model to fit up to 6 bags of groceries.
I’m sure there are many more usage examples than the ones I’ve listed above. But here’s my verdict: Scoot is an inexpensive, fun, and quick way to get around the city. It’s a perfect introduction to motorized two-wheeled vehicles, and a practical one at that. Based on my own painless experience riding their scooters, I wholly recommend checking out Scoot if you live in San Francisco! They even offer free classes in addition to online videos and riding practice resources.
Use my referral link to join for free with two hours of riding credit!