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A kick scooter (also referred to as a push-scooter or scooter) is a human-powered street vehicle with a handlebar, deck, and wheels propelled by a rider pushing off the ground. Today, the most common scooters are made of aluminum, titanium, and steel. Some kick scooters made for younger children have 3 to 4 wheels (but most common ones have 2 wheels) and are made of plastic or don't fold. High-performance Kickbikes made for adults resemble the old "penny-farthing".

Motorized scooters, historically powered by gas engines, and more recently electric motors, are self-propelled kick scooters capable of speeds of around 30 km/h (19 mph).

Before bicycles became popular among children, steel scooters with two small bicycle wheels were more common. Around 1987, many BMX manufacturers produced BMX-like scooters as, such as Scoot. Those manufacturers discontinued their scooters, but some scooter manufacturers were established in later years and remain in business; some are still used in dense urban areas for utility purposes, since they are faster than a folding scooter and more convenient than a utility bicycle. Some are made for off-road use and are described as mountain scooters. In addition to commuting, sports competition, and off-road use, large wheel scooters are a favorite for dog scootering, an activity in which single or team dogs such as huskies pull a scooter and its rider in the same way that a sled is pulled across snow. Some Amish are not allowed to ride bicycles, so they ride scooters instead. Today, variations on the kicksled with scooter design features are also available, such as the Kickspark.

Electric models surpassed gas-powered scooters about 2000. They are often manufactured for fleet rentals, such as Lime e-scooters.

Unlike a kick scooter, a bicycle has a seat and drive train, which add speed, cost, weight, and bulk. A folding scooter can be more easily carried than a folding bicycle or even a portable bicycle. Even a non-folding scooter is easier to manoeuvre between obstacles, since there are no protruding pedals. A bicycle has its advantages on longer journeys and open spaces, while a kick scooter is easier to use for shorter distances and in more crowded locations. Kick scooters seldom have a luggage rack, so the rider usually carries any cargo on their back.

At low speeds a bicycle is difficult to control while pedalling, which is why cyclists occasionally kick their way through dense traffic or in other conditions where they cannot take advantage of the speed of their machines. Thanks to the low-speed stability of a kick scooter, riding one is allowed on many footpaths where riding a bicycle is forbidden.

Since the feet are nearer to the ground on a kick scooter, it is easier to step on and off than on a step-through frame bicycle. Hence, the rider can alternate between walking and pushing as energy and route dictate. Large-wheel scooters afford a more effective cross training workout than standard bicycles as the whole body is engaged in the effort of kicking. Although the bicycle is a much more effective and efficient long distance machine, in 2001 Jim Delzer propelled a kick scooter across the United States.

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