Riders of e-scooters usually tend to injure themselves by using on the sidewalk than get injured by a automobile driver within the street, a brand new report reveals — however that truth solely emphasizes the necessity for extra protected roadway infrastructure for micro-mobility customers on the expense of automobile drivers.
The report by the Insurance coverage Institute — which is fully financed by the automobile insurance coverage trade (although that generally has optimistic ramifications, as when the Institute slammed SUVs earlier this year) — desires to be learn as an try to curtail scooter use by casting aspersions on their security in cities, given that the majority scooter riders are injured when using on the sidewalk (whereas most cyclists are injured by automobile drivers).
“We didn’t see many e-scooter crashes with motor autos, and that could be a results of riders sticking largely to the sidewalk [which raises] respectable issues that sidewalk riders may crash into pedestrians,” Jessica Cicchino, the IIHS vp for analysis, mentioned in an announcement.
Then once more, there’s one other approach to learn the report: as an argument for lowering house allotted for automobiles in our cities.
Almost three out of 5 e-scooter riders — 58 p.c — have been injured using on the sidewalk (the place scooter using is usually prohibited) but just one out of 5 was injured using in a motorbike lane. And the 23 p.c of e-scooter riders who have been harm using in motorcar lanes tended to endure extra severe accidents than these harm using on sidewalks, bike lanes or multiuse trails. (The Insurance coverage Institute report follows comparable findings earlier this yr by the Journal of the American Medical Affiliation, as reported by Streetsblog. And far of the findings have to be taken with a shaker of salt: Roughly two-thirds of accidents stem from potholes, uneven pavement, driveway lips or different issues that might be fastened with little controversy or wholesale reimagining of our cities.)
Nonetheless, there’s one overarching implication of the report? Scooter riders are compelled onto the sidewalk by unsafe street circumstances — and that’s the place they’re prone to injure themselves or others. However scooter riders who have been given protected infrastructure — corresponding to a protected bike lane — are not often injured.
“We used the bike lane when one was out there, however I personally don’t really feel protected using a scooter in the course of site visitors,” mentioned 23-year-old Kavita Kothari, one of many 105 injured scooter riders interviewed by Institute researchers at at George Washington College Hospital in Washington, D.C., between March and November 2019.
“Sidewalk using is a survival technique,” mentioned Paul Steely White, director of Improvement and Public Affairs for Superpedestrian, which runs Hyperlink, a scooter firm that hopes to arrange a scooter-share system in New York subsequent yr. “Nonetheless, there’s actually no excuse for it as a result of as everyone knows, pedestrians deserve probably the most safety. It’s just like the Brooklyn Bridge: Till we get our protected lanes, be ready to get off and stroll.”
White mentioned his firm would advocate for “extra protected lanes” for micro-mobility customers, however till then, his firm will use geofencing to maintain scooter riders off the sidewalk, the place they “do extra to erode public assist for micromobility than the rest.”
Lime spokesman Russell Murphy had an identical take: “Including avenue house for weak street customers like scooter riders, cyclists and pedestrians on the expense of automobiles is the primary approach to make streets safer for all customers.” (His firm says that solely 10 p.c of scooter riders in Hoboken, N.J. experience on the sidewalk — and 90 p.c of them mentioned they might not have achieved that if there had been a protected lane.)
And Fowl, one other scooter firm, additionally chimed in:
“Fowl is a steadfast advocate of the third lane (as we mentioned in a current Streetsblog publish here) and constructing out extra ‘third lanes,’” the corporate mentioned. “Analysis and our personal riders word that individuals experience micromobility units on sidewalks once they really feel unsafe using on the street resulting from an absence of motorcycle lanes, the presence of potholes and different street hazards. To assist handle this, now we have and can proceed to supply knowledge to cities about these issues and have constructed a automobile in addition to further merchandise to assist riders improve their consolation degree and enhance their security.”
Like most e-scooter customers, Kothari was not utilizing the system for normal commuting. The Institute’s report reveals that, in contrast to cyclists, e-scooter riders are usually informal customers or newbies, with 40 p.c of those that are injured getting harmed on their very first few experience. And scooter riders not often put on helmets, which translated to a higher chance of a concussion or cranium fracture in comparison with bicyclists, the report reveals.
The Institute appears to begrudgingly admit that extra protected infrastructure would assist resolve the myriad issues related to a number of types of e-mobility competing towards lethal automobiles.
“Previous analysis has proven that the majority e-scooter riders choose the bike lane general, and the Institute discovered that one was not often out there within the cases during which riders have been injured within the street or sidewalk,” the Institute mentioned in a canopy letter to the report (which is definitely paired stories concerning the variety of crashes and the severity of crashes, each embedded beneath).
Cicchino appeared to need to hedge her bets in favor of the automobile insurance coverage trade that pays for her analysis, claiming that the “image remains to be not clear” about the place scooters ought to be ridden: Shifting scooters into the roadway may put riders vulnerable to extra extreme accidents, however conserving them off the roadways will surely reduce the severity of the accidents.”
However the image is clear: extra protected house is required for the brand new types of micro-mobility slightly than bans or velocity restrictions.
In an interview with Streetsblog, Cicchino mentioned that “everybody would agree that we don’t need scooter riders sharing the roadway with automobiles, taking house from pedestrians or going too slowly in a motorbike lane.”
“It’s an actual powerful situation,” she added. “It’s laborious to say what the perfect place is for them.”
Truly, it isn’t, Cicchino admitted when pressed.
“In a super world, scooter riders would have protected house, however the best way individuals consider infrastructure proper now, nobody would need to implement an extra lane for a brand new type of micro-mobility,” she mentioned. “Sure, it could be the most secure factor for scooter, however every little thing comes all the way down to political will.”
Political will is actually missing. As Streetsblog recently reported, a triple-digit improve in scooter gross sales, plus a double-digit improve in bike using in New York Metropolis has not led to commensurate enhancements in non-car infrastructure. The de Blasio administration can’t even discover a approach to take a evenly used lane of the Queensboro Bridge away from drivers in order that pedestrians and cyclists (in each instructions) don’t have to separate a single lane of the bridge, inflicting frequent crashes. (And the dearth of biking house on the Brooklyn Bridge led to a recent $75,000 settlement in favor of an injured cyclist.)
Brooklyn Metropolis Council Member Antonio Reynoso is on board with creating extra scooter house — and certainly drew that conclusion from the report.
“The report which was meant to discourage the usage of e-scooters, satirically makes an excellent level: New York Metropolis is doing a horrible job at defending various transportation customers,” he mentioned. “The de Blasio administration’s failure to implement ample bike infrastructure is now posing a menace to not solely on cyclists, however e-scooter riders as properly. As New Yorkers more and more transition to the usage of socially distanced types of transportation, now’s the time for New York Metropolis to put money into full streets that may accommodate all customers.”
Scooter use can be booming nationwide, although scooter-share applications in lots of cities have been (satirically) curtailed in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the report predicted, scooter use nationwide “could develop because the pandemic grinds on and commuters search for socially distanced alternate options to the bus and subway.”
Maybe … if that various can be protected. Till then, “e-scooter riders could discover they aren’t fully welcome on any a part of their metropolis’s transportation community,” Cicchino concluded.
Learn the total stories embedded beneath: