Electric scooters are becoming more common in major cities across the country, bringing fun to riders, profits to scooter manufacturers, and a slew of potential hazards to walkers and riders.
I am an interested observer since San Diego, where I currently reside, is at the forefront of the emergence of electric rideables. I was recently taking a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk when a pair of weped fs electric scooters sped by. Another scooter flew by and I saw a young girl begin to cross the boardwalk; I knew it would not be able to stop in time. The young lady on the scooter was quick to react.
She dropped the scooter and slid to a stop instead of slamming into the girl at full speed. Although there was a collision and the rider sustained minor injuries, a disaster was prevented.
This incident, in my opinion, serves as a warning about the dangers posed by electric vehicles, which have quickly become commonplace on local boardwalks and sidewalks. Many reports of injuries can be found online. A Dallas woman went to the emergency room for head injuries the week of July 9, and Nashville officials are considering legislation that would require scooter registration.
This new mode of transportation raises several issues, including whether riders should be required to wear helmets and whether vehicles should be allowed on sidewalks.
And should drunk driving be allowed while operating them? I’d like to raise awareness of the three ways that electric scooters can be harmful to health among local government officials, electric-rideable businesses, and sidewalk users.
How electric rideables can be harmful to one’s health
Have the rideables arrived in your area yet? They will. Electric scooters alone expected to rise from a $14 billion global industry in 2014 to $37 billion in 2024, according to a market research firm. The two largest scooter manufacturers, Bird and Lime, both located in California, have recently installed scooters in close to 30 American cities, renting them to customers looking for a thrill or a ride-sharing option.
As a result, I am concerned that competing with electric vehicles will reduce the safety and comfort of pedestrians on sidewalks. The United States already has one of the world’s lowest rates of walking and bicycling for transportation. Will we now hand over the sidewalks to electric vehicles, reducing our activity levels even further?
A quick fix is to proceed slowly
Local governments are hard at work developing responses to this obvious new threat. The first step in San Diego has been to enforce helmet, speed, and single-rider requirements on the boardwalk. I’ve seen no such enforcement on the sidewalks just a few blocks away. This infographic with electric rideable safety instructions is a good place to start for riders.
I also have some additional suggestions that will promote the safe use of electric rideables and enhance walking and bicycling conditions.
Electric rideables should be permitted wherever bicycles are permitted, which includes bike facilities, lanes, protected bike paths, and streets, but not sidewalks. However, there is an issue with bikes and rideables on the streets: riding on the streets is not as safe as it could be on bicycles or rideables.
Research on electric rideables urgently needed, as is action because the electric rideable phenomenon still relatively young but expanding quickly. Evidence is required to inform regulations that will guarantee that electric vehicles do not negatively affect health and may even improve it.
They must avoid the fate of dockless bikes
We haven’t been very successful as urban designers at fusing land use like houses, shops, and workplaces with our transportation system. Thus, many individuals find that it is too close to drive and too far to walk to the next rail or bus station (even if they could be sure of finding parking). As a result, there is now a difficulty with the “final mile.”
Hilliness and hot summers exacerbate the problem in some Australian cities. The implications for people’s work commutes are obvious. In the end, many people find that driving to and from work is the most convenient option.
Businesses that are on the move
The two major manufacturers of e-scooters, Lime and Bird, have drawn the most attention. This year, a number of additional smaller businesses have joined the e-scooter industry, including Scoot, Skip, and Spin.
While both are new ventures, Bird and Lime have raised significant funding in a relatively short period of time. Some people think Uber will acquire Lime as a step toward developing a multi-modal transportation platform that offers scooter, bike, and car-sharing services.
What is the allure of e-scooters?
Uber is interested in e-scooters and e-bicycles. Because many of its ridesharing trips are short and could accomplish with e-scooters.
Uber could utilize fewer drivers and cut operational costs if it could transition its short-distance passengers from automobiles to e-scooters. The remaining drivers would be responsible for driving passengers farther and charging more money.
Shared e-scooters have several advantages over shared e-bikes. The rider can stand up, which means no wrinkling of clothes for office workers. Women in skirts and dresses have an easier time maintaining their posture.
How to avert dockless bikes’ demise
E-scooters are not without drawbacks. They tend to litter footpaths, parks, and even rivers because they lack docks. These issues are comparable to those raised by dockless sharing bikes. Due to this, a number of dockless bike-share firms in Australia were compelled to discontinue operations.
Many communities lack adequate means of controlling them. The question of whether e-scooters should permit. On footpaths or only on roads and bike paths has yet to resolve. (Because of their top speed of 24km/h, e-scooters traveling on footpaths pose a safety risk.)
These issues have addressed Lime and Bird. For instance, Bird has made a Save our Sidewalks (SOS) pledge. And has urged other companies that rent out electric scooters to follow suit. The pledge consists of three parts:
- Daily e-scooter pick-ups in the evening and redeployment the following day.
- depending on real usage, a sensible increase in the number of scooters deployed.
- With host cities for the purpose of constructing and maintaining bikes. Lanes and promoting safe riding, with revenue sharing of US$1 per scooter per day.
Lime, similar to Uber, pays people to collect and charge scooters each night. While there are currently no e-scooter share systems in Australia, both Lime and Bird are reportedly planning to launch soon. What will their fate be? Are cities in Australia ready for them?