Project launched to tackle e-scooter safety issues
February 23rd, 2023
Design specialists Edge Innovation and industry experts Micromobility Partners have launched a new project to design innovative approaches to solve safety-related issues associated with e-scooter use. They are looking for your input on the use of e-scooters and are inviting you to fill out a quick survey to voice your concerns or opinions on potential safety solutions.
E-scooter trials were launched in July 2020 in 32 areas across England by the Department for Transport. The trials allow users to rent e-scooters and are currently the only legal way to ride an e-scooter on the public highway.
The trials intend to measure demand for e-scooters and to help inform technical regulations and safety measures for the potential legalisation of private e-scooters. The trials will run until May 2024 and have already highlighted several safety challenges including road infrastructure, helmet usage and rider visibility. The trials are proving e-scooters as a valuable mode of transport with over 14.5 million trips undertaken by December 2021. They offer new transportation options with higher uptake by people of low incomes and ethnic minorities whilst providing an alternative to the private car and are being used on regular trips including commuting.
The evaluation also showed a higher rate of accidents, compared to equivalent bike usage, which may be linked to the novice use of e-scooters. In the year ending June 2021, there were 931 accidents involving e-scooters (including private e-scooter usage). Whilst many of these did not lead to injury, around 250 were considered serious. As a result, Edge Innovation and Micromobility partners are being funded by the UK government, administered by UKRI, to investigate how e-scooters can be made safer overall. This involves working with a range of organisations including commissioners such as Local Authorities, e-scooter operators, road safety groups and users. To gain insight from stakeholders the team are asking for responses to an e-scooter safety survey. The survey can be accessed by clicking this link: https://bit.ly/e-scootersurvey
Steve Pyer, Director at MicroMobility Partners, said: "e-scooters are a new mode of transport in the UK and legislation is still being debated. With the correct legislation, technology and education they are an enjoyable and emission free way to move around urban areas. The MicroMobility Partners team have over 30 years of combined experience in micro mobility and have been at the forefront of safe sustainable e-scooter operations for over two years. Our involvement will produce clear requirements that can be built into trials, hardware, operations and legislation."
The main safety issues that will be addressed include low levels of helmet use, more than one person riding an e-scooter at one time, inaccurate geofencing which impacts pavement riding, speed restrictions and problems with signalling. The potential beneficiaries of this project include e-scooter users, pedestrians, Local Authorities, operators, and government. The aim is to reduce pedestrians’ fear of e-scooters, reduce anti-social riding, make rider behaviours more predictable to drivers and give users more confidence to use e-scooters.
Simon Green, Chief Executive of Edge Innovation, described the work being undertaken through this project. “When we began talking with MicroMobility Partners about e-scooter safety, it became clear that rider behaviour and public perception of scooters were hugely crucial elements. With this in mind, we are focusing this work on really understanding how people interact with existing e-scooter trials, whether they are regular users or not. This way, we will identify ways to influence future trial designs to improve safety, allowing more widespread acceptance and adoption.”
Edge and MicroMobility Partners are currently working with the operators, commissioners, and users to understand the challenges arising in the trials. This will then lead to consideration of the appropriate response and solutions to overcome these challenges.
The project team includes design and project management expertise from Edge Innovation, mobility expertise from MicroMobility Partners, and design engineering expertise from Samson Forth Associates. This project is funded by the UK government and administered by UKRI.
Edge Innovation was set up in 2015 to support innovation with and across public, private, and third sectors, working with organisations of all sizes across different sectors.
Website: Edge Innovation - We enable people to realise positive change. (ed-ge.uk)
Micromobility Partners are a team of active travel and micro mobility veterans with over 30 years of experience in the industry, from Boris Bikes to British Cycling and Ford-owned Spin mobility.
Innovate UK fund business and research collaboration to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Their support is available to businesses across all economic sectors value chains and UK regions. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation. For more information visit www.innovateuk.ukri.org.