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Illustration: Caresse Haaser / Axios

In the months electric scooters for rent started cropping up in cities across the country, the response hasn’t exactly been positive — especially from local governments, which have scrambled to implement pilot programs with strict limits.

The bottom line: City officials are trying to regain control over private transportation services after ride-hailing companies flooded their streets with cars years ago. But while some upset residents are destroying scooters, many are embracing them as an easy option to get around.

Payback: For some local officials, this is an opportunity to do what they weren’t able to do years ago when ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft showed up and flooded their cities with cars, angering taxi companies, and not paying what some saw as their fair share of taxes.

  • In places like California, for example, ride-hailing companies went straight to state regulators early on to have their business models approved, making it trickier for individual cities to control them. In San Francisco, city officials have blocked public funding in at least two occasions that would go to ride-hailing companies (or services they own), according to the SF Examiner.

Anti-tech sentiment: Some of the backlash is undeniably part of a large anti-tech sentiment that’s been growing over the last several years, especially in cities where the industry is creating visible socio-economic divides.

Safety concerns: There are genuine concerns over the safety of scooters. Residents and city officials have been frustrated with the number of scooters left to block roads, sidewalks, and entrances. Many scooter riders also zip along sidewalks instead of bike lanes or streets, despite scooter companies’ claims they try to educate customers how to safely ride.

Public transit: Perhaps a derivative of the effect of ride-hailing services on public transit, a number of city officials worry that new private transportation like scooters will continue to divert ridership (and funds) from local transit. Several cities are asking scooter — and bike-sharing — companies to provide data about their riders as part of obtaining a permit so they can better understand how these various services interact with each other.

The other side: Scooter backlash is getting substantial media coverage, but it’s not as widespread as it appears. Slews of people in those same cities have embraced this new transportation option because it satisfies their needs. The backlash also exposes the refusal to acknowledge that current options, namely private cars and public transit, aren’t fulfilling many residents’ needs.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
38 mins ago - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Who benefits from Biden's move to reopen ACA enrollment

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nearly 15 million Americans who are currently uninsured are eligible for coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than half of them would qualify for subsidies, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation brief.

Why it matters: President Biden is expected to announce today that he'll be reopening the marketplaces for a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15, but getting a significant number of people to sign up for coverage will likely require targeted outreach.

2 hours ago - Technology

Big Tech bolts politics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big Tech fed politics. Then it bled politics. Now it wants to be dead to politics. 

Why it matters: The social platforms that profited massively on politics and free speech suddenly want a way out — or at least a way to hide until the heat cools.