Are scooters safe? Look at the evidence
Electric scooters are the latest “new mobile” technology to disrupt the transportation industry. You are very likely to see people riding these small but flexible two-wheelers in a city near you. With the explosive growth of shared bicycles and online ride-hailing, the number of trips made by scooters in the United States reached 38.5 million in 2018. Are scooters safe? Accordingly, this article will tell you about it.
Scooters provide riders with many of the same benefits as shared bicycles—they provide fast, fun, and short-distance travel—at the same time being less scary for novices. Like shared bicycles, scooters have the potential to bring huge benefits to cities.
Early data indicates that most scooters have a travel length between 1 and 2 miles. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if U.S. drivers choose to walk or ride a bicycle instead of driving to complete all car trips less than one mile, it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2 million metric tons and provide approximately US$900 million in fuel costs and Maintenance costs. . Like bicycles, scooters can help solve the “last mile” problem—connecting parts of the city with previously inaccessible public transportation—and expand the use of residents living in areas under-served by public transportation.
However, some people have raised concerns about the safety of scooters because of their small size, lower center of gravity than bicycles, relatively high speeds, accidental damage to some scooters, and conflicts with vehicles or pedestrians.
A recent study in the United States found that there are indeed some risks in riding a scooter. However, they usually indicate that scooters are no more dangerous than other vehicles in terms of the risk of serious injury or death.
Although more data is needed to fully understand the relative risks of different modes, we do know that cities are becoming more deadly for all non-motorized users—cars are killing pedestrians, cyclists, and others at unacceptable speeds. The advent of scooters will only allow people to move in the city more safely without relying on cars.
Scooter is a new phenomenon, and there is no data available in a large number of cities. However, some studies look at data on emerging scooters in American cities. We discussed the first one, the CDC study released yesterday, with the longest length, but we also checked the background of the other three studies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Austin, Texas recently released an epidemiological study that looked at scooters-related injuries during the three-month period in the fall of 2018. The study looked at multiple injuries and demographic variables associated with 190 injured riders, nearly half of which were considered serious injuries. 15% of people have experienced traumatic brain injury. The injury rate for the sample of scooter riders studied was 20 per 100,000 rides, which means that a person riding the scooter twice a day may be injured once every seven years.
55% of riders were injured on the street, 33% were injured on the sidewalk, and 12% were injured elsewhere. The study found that 16% of accidents directly (collision) or indirectly (turning to avoid collision) involve motor vehicles. Another 17% involved curbs, objects or manholes.
The study concluded that most head injuries may be preventable (only one rider with a head injury wore a helmet), and proposed the next two steps: strengthening related to emerging vehicles such as scooters Injury monitoring, and increase the frequency and method of safe riding education information, emphasizing helmet wearing and maintaining a safe speed.
However, there are other ways to interpret the results. One factor that can lead to a high injury rate is the number of novice riders. More than 60% of the riders surveyed have ridden a scooter less than 10 times. More than 30% of the injured are first-time riders.
In addition, given that 55% of riders are injured on the road, and 50% of the riders surveyed believe that road conditions cause them to be injured, it is useful to analyze road design, quality, and maintenance. For example, it would be interesting to analyze the relationship between the location of the injury and the rider’s infrastructure (such as bike lanes and other design features). Overlapping the rapid visualization of the injuries reported in the study with the city of Austin’s own “high comfort” bicycle infrastructure database is a starting point. Most injuries occur outside the protected infrastructure.
Comparing the injury rate of scooters and other modes (standardized by trip or riding time) throughout the study period may also help to understand whether urban roads pose a serious threat to all vulnerable users, or whether scooters have unique safety requirements.
Another recent study investigated 249 patients who were injured using electric scooters in two emergency departments at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles Medical Center. Within one year, 32% of these scooter injury patients had fractures, 40% had head injuries, and 28% had soft tissue injuries. Only 4% of patients wear a helmet when they are injured, but most patients (94%) are discharged home from the emergency room. Only 2 of the 15 admitted patients were seriously injured.
This study is particularly interesting because it records how the rider was injured. 80% of people fell off their scooters, 11% of people collided with objects, and 9% of people were hit by moving vehicles or objects. The study did not say, but it would be interesting to link the way the rider was injured to the severity of the injury.
As part of the 120-day scooter pilot program evaluation, Portland reviewed a combination of qualitative and quantitative data, including trip data provided by scooter companies, emergency interviews, and city-wide representative polls.
The survey results include:
Most injuries associated with scooters are minor.
Injuries related to scooters account for 5% of the total number of collision injuries.
Of these injuries, 84% were caused by individuals falling off the scooter. 13% is caused by a collision between a scooter and a car.
The streets with bicycle lanes are the places with the highest motorcycle usage.
When the road speed limit is low or there are protected bicycle lanes, the number of times people ride on the sidewalk will be reduced, which shows that protected infrastructure and safer speed are essential for minimizing the interference between scooters and pedestrians and cars. The importance of conflict.
Scooter company Bird also recently published a study on the safety of scooters, which concluded that scooters and bicycles have similar risks.
According to a 2017 study in high-income countries, 59 emergency visits were generated for every 1 million miles of bicycles; Bird reported that 38 people were injured every 1 million miles on scooters (based on injuries reported directly to Bird by the rider ). The study also found that there is a correlation between cities with higher safety scores for “people for bicycles” and cities with fewer bird injuries-the result is to make cyclists safer and motorcycle riders safer.
According to a user survey asking how to make riders feel safer, most respondents want protected bike lanes, flatter sidewalks, wider bike lanes, and designated scooter parking lots.
Hidden factor: road design
These studies may provide insights about potential scooter design flaws or riding at unsafe speeds, which are important safety factors. However, as the use of scooters increases, city leaders should consider a risk factor outside the control of the rider: the way we design our roads.
In the past ten years, the number of people who were hit and killed while walking has increased by 35%, while vehicle mileage has increased steadily. In 2016 and 2017, American drivers killed more pedestrians than in any year since 1990, and this number is getting worse globally.
The current car-centric design of our roads makes other modes of transportation-most commonly cycling, scooters, and walking-more likely to collide with cars. This unequal collision is much more deadly than the collision between people engaged in various micro-movements and “active” transportation.
What can cities do to make their roads safer for scooters and other active modes of transportation? Here are some suggestions for the work of the World Resources Institute:
Ensure road safety by constructing protected bicycle lanes (which can also be used for scooters), redesigning crossroads, implementing traffic mitigation measures, and urban design elements that can save lives, such as speed bumps, deceleration bends, and elevated Crosswalk and improve street surface. Cities can extend these types of interventions through “complete streets” and “vision zero” programs.
Speed management: Lowering the speed limit from 50 kilometers per hour to 30 kilometers per hour in busy urban areas can reduce the probability of death of pedestrians or cyclists from 85% to 30%. Narrower lanes, wider sidewalks, elevated crosswalks and curb extensions also encourage safer speeds.
WRI is working in this area through its health and road safety teams to achieve these types of transformations. WRI is also a member of the New Urban Transport Alliance NUMO, which is studying the impact of micro-transport services on cities in a variety of ways.
Whether scooters can help make cities better and provide more people with more low-cost, low-carbon transportation options will depend on city officials and scooter companies working together to achieve this goal. For example, the public sector can promote policies that benefit the scooter project while preventing safety risks. Evidence suggests that protected, high-quality bicycle lanes can protect scooter users. Companies can also do their part by sharing data with cities (many companies have promised to do so through the shared mobility principle), and even help cities develop or test the necessary infrastructure to make scooters safer.
If you want to know how the motor works with other parts in the electric scooter, please view the full guide here.