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Scooter Use Skyrocketing In Cities, But Are They Safe? A Look At The Evidence

Scooter Use Skyrocketing In Cities, But Are They Safe? A Look At The Evidence


Revealed on Might fifth, 2019 |
by World Assets Institute

Might 5th, 2019 by World Assets Institute 

Originally revealed on World Assets Institute blog.
by Alejandro Schwedhelm, Anna Bray Sharpin, and Claudia Adriazola-Steil

Electric scooters are the newest “new mobility” tech to disrupt the transportation sector. Likelihood is you’ve seen somebody passing by on one among these small-but-nimble two-wheelers in a city near you. Following the explosive progress of bike-sharing and ride-hailing, scooters reached 38.5 million U.S. trips in 2018.

A man rides a scooter in Austin, Texas. Flickr/James Cage

Scooters provide most of the similar advantages as bike-sharing to riders—they provide fast and fun travel for brief distances—whereas being even less intimidating to newbies. Like shared bikes, scooters also have the potential to offer vital benefits to cities.

Early knowledge suggests most scooter journeys are between one and two miles long. In line with the Environmental Protection Agency, if U.S. drivers selected to stroll or bike as an alternative of driving for half of all automotive journeys shorter than a mile, it might save 2 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and provide about $900 million in gasoline costs and upkeep financial savings. Scooters, like bikes, assist with the “last-mile” drawback—connecting elements of the town to public transport that have been previously past reach—and broaden access for residents who reside in areas underserviced by public transit.

Some, nevertheless, have raised considerations about scooters’ safety, given their small measurement, lower middle of gravity than bikes, relatively high speeds, some instances of scooters breaking unexpectedly and publicity to conflicts with automobiles or pedestrians.

Current research in america discovered that driving a scooter does carry some risks. Nevertheless, they typically point out that scooters are not any more harmful when it comes to danger of great damage or demise than different modes of transport.

Whereas extra knowledge is needed to completely perceive relative risks throughout modes, we do know cities are becoming deadlier for all non-motorized users—that automobiles are hitting and killing pedestrians, cyclists and others at unacceptable rates. The arrival of scooters solely lends extra urgency to the trouble to make it safer for individuals to maneuver round cities with out counting on automobiles.

Evidence from 4 Current Studies

Scooters are a new phenomenon, and there isn’t yet a substantial amount of knowledge out there across cities. Nevertheless, a couple of research take a look at emerging scooter crash knowledge in U.S. cities. We talk about the primary, a CDC research released yesterday, on the biggest size, but in addition look at three more studies for context.

Austin, Texas

The Facilities for Illness Control and the town of Austin, Texas, lately released an epidemiological research taking a look at scooter-related accidents over a three-month period within the fall of 2018. The research checked out a number of damage and demographic variables related to 190 injured riders, of which just about half have been thought-about significantly injured. 15% skilled a traumatic brain damage. The sample of scooter riders studied yielded an damage fee of 20 per 100,000 rides, which means that an individual taking four scooter trips a day might anticipate to be injured once each three.5 years.

Fifty-five % of riders have been injured on the road, 33% on the sidewalk and 12% in different places. The research discovered that 16% of incidents concerned motor vehicle instantly (a collision) or indirectly (swerving to avoid a collision). One other 17% concerned a curb, an object or a manhole.

The research concluded that a lot of the head accidents might have been preventable (only one of the riders who suffered a head damage was sporting a helmet) and proposes two subsequent steps: Strengthening damage surveillance related to rising automobiles like scooters, and growing the frequency and strategies of instructional messages on protected driving, emphasizing helmet sporting and sustaining protected speeds.

Nevertheless, there are other ways to interpret the outcomes. One issue which will have contributed to excessive damage charges is the number of novice riders. Over 60% of the interviewed riders had made fewer than 10 journeys on a scooter. More than 30% of those injured have been first-time riders.

Additionally, provided that 55% of riders have been injured on the street, and 50% of interviewed riders believed that pavement floor circumstances led to their injuries, it will be helpful to conduct an analysis of street design, quality, and upkeep. It will be fascinating, for example, to research the relationship between damage places and infrastructure for riders, corresponding to bike lanes and other design options. A quick visualization of injuries reported in the research overlaid with the town of Austin’s own database on “high comfort” bike infrastructure is a starting point. Most accidents occurred away from protected infrastructure.

Evaluating damage rates of scooters and different modes throughout the research period (normalized by journeys taken or hours ridden) may need also shed some mild on whether roads within the city pose a critical menace to all weak customers, or whether scooters have unique safety needs.

Los Angeles

Another current research looked at 249 sufferers with accidents associated with electrical scooter use in two emergency departments of a UCLA medical middle in southern California. Within a one-year period, 32% of those scooter-injury patients had fractures, 40% had head injuries, and 28% had soft-tissue injuries. Only four% of patients have been sporting a helmet at the time of their damage, but most patients (94%) have been discharged residence from the emergency room. Solely 2 of 15 admitted patients had extreme accidents.

This research is especially fascinating as a result of it captured how riders have been injured. Eighty % fell off their scooters, 11% collided with an object and 9% have been hit by a shifting car or object. The research doesn’t say, but it will be fascinating to correlate how riders have been injured with the severity of the damage.

Portland, Oregon

As a part of the analysis of a 120-day pilot program for scooters, Portland checked out a mixture of qualitative and quantitative knowledge, together with trip knowledge offered by scooter corporations, emergency visits, and a citywide consultant poll.

Findings embrace:

  • Most scooter-related accidents have been minor.
  • Scooter-related accidents accounted for 5% of complete crash damage visits.
  • Of these accidents, 84% have been the results of a person falling off a scooter. 13% resulted from scooter collision with a automotive.
  • Streets with bike lanes noticed the very best scooter utilization.
  • Individuals rode on the sidewalk less when the street had low velocity limits or protected bike lanes, demonstrating the significance of protected infrastructure and safer car speeds to minimizing battle between scooters and pedestrians and automobiles.


Scooter firm Chook additionally lately revealed a research on scooter safety, which concluded that scooters and bicycles share comparable dangers.

Bikes produce 59 emergency division visits per 1 million miles cycled, in response to a 2017 research in high-income nations; Chook reported an damage fee of 38 injuries per 1 million miles for scooters (based mostly on injuries reported directly to Hen by riders). The research additionally discovered an association between cities with larger “People for Bikes” security scores and fewer Chook accidents—with the upshot that making cyclists safer makes scooter riders safer, too.

In accordance with a consumer survey asking what would make riders feel safer, most respondents want protected bike lanes, smoother pavement, wider bike lanes and designated scooter parking.

The Hidden Issue: Street Design

These research may present insights on potential scooter design pitfalls or driving at unsafe speeds, which are necessary security parts. Nevertheless, as scooter use grows, metropolis leaders ought to think about a danger issue exterior to riders’ management: the best way our roads are designed.

During the last decade, the number of individuals struck and killed while strolling elevated by 35%, whereas car miles traveled grew steadily. Drivers killed more pedestrians in the USA in 2016 and 2017 than some other yr since 1990, and, globally, the numbers are additionally getting worse.

The current, car-centric design of our roads makes other modes of transport—mostly cycling, scootering and strolling—extra weak to collisions with automobiles. These sorts of unequal collisions are much deadlier than collisions between individuals engaged in the numerous modes of micro-mobility and “active” transport.

What can cities do to make their roads safer for scooters and different lively modes of transport? Listed here are some recommendations from WRI’s work:

  • Make roads protected by design by building protected bike lanes (which may also be used by scooters), redesigning intersections, and implementing visitors calming measures and concrete design parts that may save lives like velocity humps, chicanes, raised pedestrian crossings and improved road surfaces. Cities can scale most of these interventions via “complete streets” and Vision Zero packages.
  • Handle speeds: Decreasing and implementing velocity limits from 50 to 30 kilometers per hour in busy city areas can scale back the probability of pedestrian or bike owner fatalities from 85 to 30%. Narrower lanes, wider sidewalks, raised pedestrian crossings and curb extensions also all encourage safer speeds.

WRI is working on this area to make a majority of these transformations happen, by way of its Health and Street Security workforce. WRI can also be a member of NUMO, the New Urban Mobility alliance, which is learning the effect of micro-mobility providers on cities in a number of methods.

Whether or not scooters assist rework cities for the higher, enabling extra low-cost, low-carbon transport choices for extra individuals, will depend upon city officers and scooter corporations working together in the direction of attaining that aim. For instance, the general public sector can push for insurance policies that enable the advantages of scooter packages while stopping safety dangers. The proof suggests protected, high-quality bike lanes can shield scooter users. Corporations may also do their half by sharing knowledge with cities (many have pledged to do so already, by way of the Shared Mobility Rules) and even helping cities develop or check needed infrastructure that makes scooters safer. 


Tags: city planning, e-scooter accidents, electric scooters, damage charges of scooters, Portland, Street Design, security, scooter crash knowledge, scooter riders, scooter safety, scooter journeys, Shared Mobility Rules, urban planning

Concerning the Writer

World Assets Institute is a worldwide research organization that spans greater than 50 nations, with workplaces in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, and the USA. Our greater than 450 specialists and employees work intently with leaders to turn massive concepts into motion to sustain our natural assets—the inspiration of economic opportunity and human well-being. Discover out extra at

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