In 2017, the inaugural shared e-scooter program started in the United States. Since their debut, the vehicles have grown in popularity, with countless towns and cities embracing a new type of public transportation.
With success have come setbacks. With rising ridership came an increased number of injuries. Many areas of the country and several companies have implemented restrictions on speed, with many imposing a 15-mile-per-hour requirement.
Challenges in sharing sidewalks
Informal studies reveal a trade-off to the slower speeds and growing numbers of scooter drivers. While the danger is down when it comes to larger motor vehicles, the larger problem may be continuing conflicts with pedestrians sharing sidewalks with them.
Preference to ride on sidewalks was more likely when motor vehicle traffic was more significant, including two-way roads and arterials. Conversely, e-scooter riding on Saturday and Sunday, in particular, resulted in e-scooter riders switching to travel lanes due to the decrease in traffic levels. Sharing roads with larger vehicles increases the chance of serious and fatal injuries.
Sidewalk bans are an option. Two-thirds of towns and cities nationwide are either considering the implementation of sidewalk bans or already moved forward with the prohibitions, according to the Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program. Other areas are discussing a complete ban on all or specific roads. However, the effectiveness is in question.
E-scooter companies are taking proactive measures, specifically systems that detect their e-scooters traveling on sidewalks.
While growing in prominence, the e-scooter industry is still in its infancy. More sophisticated technology can keep all sidewalk and road occupants safe.