It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

people riding bird electric scooters
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Love them or hate them, e-scooters transformed our world more than any other technology in 2018. From Portland to Paris, they descended on cities like two-wheeled locusts this year, inspiring envy, scorn, confusion, and outright destruction. Hipsters hate them. Bikers hate them. Transit wonks hate them. And everyone who’s ever ridden one loves them, making them this year’s most contentious topic to bring up over a beer, after “laurel versus yanny.”

When it comes to e-scooters, the Digital Trends staff is as deeply divided as a family Thanksgiving at Uncle Ralph’s. But we’re laying down the carving knife on this debate: You don’t need to adore e-scooters to acknowledge that they’re fundamentally changing the way people get around in cities. The rideable revolution is finally here.

We’ve covered electric skateboards, bikes, scooters and even unicycles for years, but they’ve always been more fun than practical. Taking the plunge on an electric rideable means spending thousands of dollars up front, a religious charging routine, lugging a suitcase-sized vehicle up apartment stairs, and in the case of devices like the OneWheel, learning not to break your face.

Dockless e-scooters solve all these problems. They’re cheap and easy to ride, precharged, available everywhere, and when you’re done, you just leave them at your destination. Which brings us to all that vitriol…

messy pile of various e-scooters
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Yes, sometimes people leave them in stupid places. Yes, sometimes people ride them on sidewalks. And yes, sometimes people even ride them drunk, saddled with two passengers, swerving all over the bike lane. We’ve seen it all.

But these are the normal growing pains of an entirely new form of transportation. Horses once covered city streets in knee-deep crap, cars swallowed cities in smog, and even your precious trains enabled a genocide. If the worst that comes from electric scooters is mild annoyance as early riders learn their manners, consider us impressed.

So go ahead, take one for a spin. You’re tasting the future of transportation.

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