by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
E-scooters are in the news this week in North Carolina. In Durham, for example, officials are expecting 800 scooters from four companies: Bird, Gotcha, Lime, and Spin (the city has limited the companies to 200 scooters apiece).
Charlotte, which also welcomes e-scooters from several different companies, published its scooter rules and etiquette. The city also issued a light-hearted tweet to summarize them:
The ABC’s of Scooter safety.
— City of Charlotte (@CLTgov) June 6, 2019
Meanwhile, Raleigh has finally chose to allow scooters back after making sure to regulate first entries Bird and Lime out of the city. Despite the city’s extreme, confiscatory overregulation, five scooter companies still applied to take the risk of bringing their scooters into Raleigh: Gotcha, Spin, Lyft, Bolt, and VeoRide.
So does that mean people working, visiting, and enjoying downtown Raleigh will get to choose among five scooter providers?
Oh no. Raleigh’s leadership doesn’t like trusting people with choices, especially not from innovative companies. Ask Airbnb.
They allowed one. One company despite e-scooters being obviously a very competitive market. This is classic cronyism.
Basically, Raleigh’s approach to transportation choice is no different from ye olde Thomas Hobson’s.
Oh, and get this: WRAL reports that city officials could allow Gotcha up to 1,000 scooters, and that the city could lower the annual fee per scooter “if more scooters are introduced to Raleigh.”
As a reminder, Raleigh chased off Bird and Lime by, among other things, restricting how many scooters they could provide and then charging them $300 per scooter provided. Having succeeded, they would relax those business-killing restrictions for their chosen single provider.