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E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions (2022)

Chapter: Chapter 7 Conclusion

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 Conclusion." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26756.
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Page 19
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 Conclusion." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26756.
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Page 20

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19 management has been broadly demonstrated to be an effective technique in reducing severe and fatal crashes involving all road users (Sanders et al. 2019). Roadway markings and maintenance practices (e.g., modifying maintenance schedules to clear debris, improving pavement qual- ity, use of signage and pavement markings) to address safety were also reported less often than other approaches. This may indicate a disconnect between practices most used and those most needed, given that a large number of e-scooter–related injuries may be due to problems with pavement quality and roadside debris or hazards. Another theme within these items is related to program funding and investment. Incentives for safety performance or helmet use, funding of dedicated staff positions, funding of helmet distributions, and using e-scooter permitting/licensing fees to pay for safety infra- structure were all cited largely as practices not in use. While communication with the public at large was cited as a common practice (see Table  1), more targeted communication approaches (e.g., safety messages tailored to subpopulations, crowd events, driver training programs, first-time riders) were less often reported as a practice in use. Practices of Interest The top 10 e-scooter safety management practices that were reported as not being currently in use but were of interest to survey respondents (on the basis of the frequency of responses of “there is interest, but not a current practice”) are shown in Table 3. When the variation in response rates to each question group is taken into account, more than 20% of the respondents reported the majority of these items as not a practice that is of interest. Within these items identified as not a current practice but of interest, data and injury surveillance has a strong presence. A large number of survey participants reported interest in track- ing e-scooter safety incidents, creating mechanisms to identify e-scooter events in police crash forms and tracking events in police- reported data, participating in TRCC (Traffic Records Coordinating Committee) meetings, and developing protocols and training for injury reporting. There was also reported interest in doing more work in the following areas: safety and equity planning, including developing specific equity plans related to safety, safety performance mea- sures, and goals; integration with ADA accommodations plans; infrastructure safety plans; performing equity assessments; and developing ongoing partnerships with traditionally underserved communities. Allocating funding for infrastructure, installing new intersection designs, and creating dedicated space for micromobility users also appeared to be practices of interest that are not yet established in the communities represented by the survey respondents. CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION This report covers the breadth of research and professional expe- rience related to e-scooter safety as of 2021. The findings dem- onstrate an incredible increase in understanding about the behavior of e-scooter users and about municipal planning while underscoring myriad questions that remain under-studied. Key takeaways from the report follow below. E-Scooter Usage There were 86 million trips on shared e-scooters in 2019, a 123% increase from 2018, but the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected shared micromobility systems in 2020. Surveys and studies about riding trends found that most people ride e-scooters infrequently and that helmet use is low. E-scooter trips tend to follow fairly consistent patterns, with peak weekday ridership between noon and the after- noon commute hour (5:00 or 6:00 p.m.) and peak weekend ridership TABLE 3 Ten Safety Management Practices Reported of Interest by Survey Respondents QUESTION GROUP ITEM THERE IS INTEREST, BUT NOT A CURRENT PRACTICE (N ) TOTAL NO. % 6: Programs and Policies Developing e-scooter safety performance measures and goals 16 53 30 1: Planning Allocating funding for infrastructure or safety treatments for e-scooters 13 39 33 5: Operator Restrictions Providing incentives/mandates to monitor and improve helmet use 13 51 25 6: Programs and Policies Developing specific equity plans related to safety efforts 13 52 25 1: Planning Incorporating micromobility issues into ADA accommodations and plans 12 39 31 7: Engagement and Outreach Including e-scooter safety education in driver training programs 12 40 30 1: Planning Developing e-scooter infrastructure safety plans 11 39 28 7: Engagement and Outreach Providing resources to help riders determine safe routes to travel 11 40 28 6: Programs and Policies Clarifying or unifying the legal status of micromobility devices in your state/region 10 53 19 9: Data and Injury Surveillance Tracking e-scooter safety incidents using self-reported data on crashes or near-crash events 10 34 29

20 riders prefer streets with bike lanes and low speed limits, and sev- eral cities prohibit e-scooter use in areas heavily traveled by pedes- trians, for safety reasons. Because bans on sidewalk riding push e-scooter riders into roadways, the roadway design and condition are important to consider. Municipal and State Programming Regarding E-Scooters In general, there was little information about how urban areas inte- grate e-scooter programs into their local or state highway safety programs and transportation or mobility plans; seek to manage kinetic energy or address speed differentials; or use fees or other revenue sources to fund their programs or expand the network of protected facilities for e-scooter use. No studies reported on their practices related to pavement management or hazard detection specific to e-scooter user needs and device performance on road- ways, sidewalks, or transition zones (e.g., curb cuts, buffer or furni- ture areas) to e-scooter parking locations. Additionally, the current Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) does not have any content related specifically to e-scooters (FHWA 2009). While cities have the ability to evaluate experimental signage, pavement marking, and signal treatments, no studies evaluating these treat- ments pertaining to e-scooters were found in the review. Studies cited several practices that were used infrequently or not at all, including incentives for safety performance or helmet use, fund- ing for dedicated staff positions, funding for helmet distribution, and use of e-scooter permitting and licensing fees to pay for safety infra- structure. Lack of structural supports (such as staffing and funding) to address environmental and behavioral needs to improve safety for e-scooter riders is likely perpetuating e-scooter risks, crashes, and injuries in many communities. Current state laws relating to micromobility are inconsistent and, in some cases, nonexistent, and there is no clear guidance at the fed- eral level that could lead to better understanding and legal confor- mity. Some states classify e-scooters as bicycles, mopeds, or another mode. In some cases, poorly written state laws create a conflict within the very statute intended to regulate the devices. Many laws are written in unclear terms, are not aligned across states, or conflict with laws or regulations of local municipalities. A vehicle’s legal char- acterization determines whether it is allowed in the travel lane, in bike lanes, or on sidewalks. Clarity on this subject is fundamental to regulating micromobility vehicles. Safety Issues Related to E-Scooter Parking Managing e-scooter parking to ensure that pedestrian space is acces- sible is a key safety challenge. Most programs require e-scooters to be parked outside of the pedestrian zone (e.g., sidewalk), in the furniture zone. Though evaluations of strategies are lacking, juris- dictions are experimenting with third-party parking and charging infrastructure “hubs” as well as on-street parking zones, on-street or sidewalk parking signage, geofence technology to prevent parking in certain locations, and rider photo verification of parking. Cities have called for a simplification of parking rules and have moved to lock-to policies designed to reduce improper parking. Parking corrals and wider sidewalks have been found to reduce improper parking in some areas. Some studies have recommended repurposing on- and off-street vehicle parking and establishing parking maximums for between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.; seasonal ridership peaks in the summer months. The average distance and duration of e-scooter trips are relatively stable across cities, at about 1 mile and 10–15 min- utes per trip. Additionally, most surveys found that people who are male, White, aged 18–34, and middle income were overrepresented among riders of shared e-scooters (in relation to the general popu- lation), although ridership demographics could vary significantly by location. Demographics and ridership trends among riders of pri- vately owned devices are not well established. Injury demographics appear consistent with the ridership data. Most studies reported that a greater proportion of injured patients was males and dispro- portionately White. Many studies intentionally excluded injuries involving children (typically those under age 18). Head and upper extremity injuries were prevalent, and bone fractures and lacerations were common types of injuries. Helmet use among injured e-scooter riders was low in all studies, but most studies lacked the data to draw conclusions about the relationship between helmet use and injury outcomes. Studies differed in how they documented alcohol or drug use in relation to e-scooter injuries, which made it difficult to compare findings or to estimate the prevalence of alcohol or drug impairment in e-scooter incidents. E-Scooter Injuries Studies showed a large proportion of injuries resulted from single- vehicle crashes and, in particular, falls, which took place in a vari- ety of settings including roadways, sidewalks, and bike lanes. The conditions of the roadway or sidewalk surface were commonly attributed as crash factors, and e-scooters have been noted as being more vulnerable to road irregularities (e.g., stormwater grates, rail crossings, cracks) than bicycles. Hardware failure or malfunction was found to be an additional contributor to e-scooter–related injuries, as was rider inexperience. A small percentage of e-scooter crashes involved a pedestrian, and some of these incidents may be attributed to conflicts created by sidewalk riding or the lack of safe alternatives. The majority of studies retrospectively reviewed medical records from trauma centers; only a few studies used public health surveil- lance or syndromic surveillance systems. Given that most police- reported crash data require the involvement of a motor vehicle and property damage, police-reported systems fail to capture most single-rider and fall-related e-scooter injuries that are found in health data records. Inclusion criteria in most studies limited the data to cases that presented at health care centers, meaning that much is still unknown about the rates, characteristics, and prevalence of less-severe e-scooter injuries where riders did not seek professional medical care. Safety-Related Barriers to E-Scooter Usage Reported barriers to e-scooter usage included traffic safety con- cerns, such as worrying about hitting someone or being hit; feel- ing unsteady, worrying about falling, and/or not always feeling in control when riding; and not having enough safe places to ride. E-scooter users and industry members have consistently requested bicycle infrastructure or low-speed and low-volume streets for safety in riding e-scooters in the street. E-scooter users’ preference to ride in bicycle lanes aligns with pedestrians’ desire that e-scooter users not ride on sidewalks. Many studies found that e-scooter

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Many communities with electric‐scooter (e‐scooter) programs have observed social, health, and environmental benefits; enhanced multimodal connections; and positive economic impacts (such as those derived by delivery services and couriers using e‐scooters and the resultant jobs created). However, these effects are often accompanied by real and perceived safety challenges.

The TRB Behavioral Transportation Safety Cooperative Research Program's BTSCRP Research Results Digest 1: E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions is an initial deliverable to a larger ongoing project, in the form of a literature review, that identifies emerging behavioral safety issues arising from the expanding use of e-scooters and summarizes how cities are working to prevent and mitigate injuries.

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