In the mid-1800s, New York City was grappling with how to manage one of the most disruptive technologies it had seen to date: bicycles. The explosive popularity of urban cycling threw New York’s policymakers into a tailspin, leading to cycling bans and restrictive permits before the vehicles were eventually legalized statewide.
Local governments showed a similar reception to the abrupt introduction of e-scooter services nearly 200 years later, in 2018. Some cities skeptical of the technology imposed bans or took legal action against scooter operators, while cities that were open to the concept developed pilots to assess impact, often moving on to adopt informed e-scooter programs.