E-Scooters Maybe Not So Green After All

Originally published on August 6, 2019 4:26 pm

Electric, dockless scooters are showing up across the region, especially in bigger cities like Denver and Salt Lake City. But a new study suggests they may not be as environmentally friendly as you think.

Dr. Jeremiah Johnson is one of the co-authors of the study published in "Environmental Research Letters." He said whether or not riding one of these scooters is a green option depends on how you're using it.

"If you're substituting for a car ride there's pretty clearly an environmental win there," he said.

But if you're doing it instead of walking or riding a bike, not so much. The study also looked at the less visible impacts, like the materials and manufacturing. That accounted for about half of the CO2 emissions produced by the scooters.

"About 40 percent of the impacts were from that collection and redistribution process," Johnson explained. "So driving around to pick the scooters up to bring them somewhere to charge.

Johnson said only about 5 percent of impacts were from the electricity used to charge the scooters.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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