Op-Ed: Why Electric Scooters Companies Are Getting Serious About Safety

FB- active mobility scooter

Lime has joined Bird in establishing a safety advisory board tasked with helping the e-scooter industry shape local regulations—and shake its risky reputation.

Lime, the micromobility company that’s flooded the streets of more than 100 cities around the world with fleets of green-and-white electric scooters, launched a Public Policy and Safety Advisory Board last week. The group, which convened for the first time at a safety summit in San Francisco, is tasked with determining what research and policy initiatives to pursue, what regulations to advocate for, and how to generally smooth the company’s sometimes-bumpy relationships with cities, riders, and riders-to-be.

Lime’s announcement reflects a growing acknowledgement within the e-scooter rental industry that safety concerns present a major barrier to mass adoption.

Shared e-scooter and bicycle trips in the U.S. more than doubled last year to reach 84 million, but companies face fresh regulatory pushback amid reports of vehicle malfunctions, incidents of rider misbehavior, and the industry’s often-chaotic roll-out. Several high-profile safety studies have emerged: Consumer Reports recorded 1,500 scooter-related injuries in the U.S. in 2018. Researchers in Santa Monica found that scooter injuries landed people in the hospital about 50 more times than bike accidents in the same year-long period. And a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that for every 100,000 trips taken in an Austin scooter pilot, 20 individuals were injured.

The biggest risk factors, the CDC found, were lack of helmet use, infrastructure issues like potholes and lack of protected lanes, and user inexperience and behavior—implicating cities, companies, and riders themselves.

Micromobility fans note that e-scooter injuries represent a microscopic fraction of the human toll inflicted by cars and trucks: More than 40,000 people are killed on America’s roads annually in traffic violence, and more than 4 million are seriously injured. Since their 2017 rollout, rented e-scooters were reportedly involved in eight fatalities. More broadly, emissions from gas-powered vehicles has been linked to thousands of pollution-related deaths. Zero-emission electric scooters, advocates argue, represent a planet-friendly way to bridge urban mobility gaps and wean Americans from their private automobile habit.

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* * * Continue reading: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/07/scooter-crash-lime-bird-injuries-law-helmet-safety-advisory/593920/

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Sarah Holder CityLabAbout the author:  

Sarah Holder is a staff writer at CityLab covering local policy, affordable housing, labor, and technology. She studied at Yale University, majoring in American Studies with a concentration in material culture and the built environment. She is “into housing policy, dance, film, vegetables, and journalism. Former EIC of The Yale Herald, and Senior Editor of The New Journal. You can contact her via @sarahsholder.

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About the editor: 

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | http://bit.ly/2Ti8LsX | #fekbritton | https://twitter.com/ericbritton | and | https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbritton/ Contact: climate@newmobility.org) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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