Much has been written about the dangers of electric scooters – the latest craze in personal urban transport.
Capable of reaching speeds of up to 40 mph, special attention has been paid to the vulnerability of exposed drivers of these relatively fragile but heavy devices, as they navigate through traffic and congested public roads.
Indeed, research in the USA conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that electric scooter riders suffered more injuries per mile than cyclists and were twice as likely to be injured due to potholes, cracks in the pavement and collisions with streetlights and traffic signs.
At the same time, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that accidents involving electric scooters resulted in around 50,000 emergency department visits and at least 27 deaths between 2017 and 2019, with figures keep going up.
Described as “absolute death traps”By Simon Owens of the London Metropolitan Police Road and Transport Policing Command, too little time and attention has been devoted to the very specific dangers that electric scooters pose to disabled pedestrians, especially those with impaired driving. sight and mobility.
A dangerous road ahead
The main dangers include an increased risk of collision due to driving on the roadway. This is banned in the UK but remains a persistent problem with blind and visually impaired pedestrians unable to see the cyclist approaching and take appropriate avoidance measures.
Also note that many visually impaired people do not use a white cane or guide dog and are therefore not always visible to the rider himself.
Irresponsible sidewalk parking is another problem, with electric scooters hired in London regularly strewn up stairs, in front of shop doors and in the middle of sidewalks.
Instead, they should be parked in appropriate mooring areas.
Last year a A 75 year old man from Northampton died after breaking his hip when he was forced to get off his own scooter to move an electric scooter left on the sidewalk.
Electric scooters are fast but also quiet. In the UK, the maximum speed for rental scooters is limited to 15.5mph, but there are models available for purchase that can reach a top speed of 40mph.
Advocacy groups such as # StreetsForAll The campaign is calling for this limit to be reduced to around 12.5 mph and for the mandatory installation of Acoustic Vehicle Warning Systems (AVAS) on electric scooters to alert oncoming pedestrians.
More to learn
Even though electric scooters are becoming more and more familiar in cities and towns, their exact legal status remains surrounded by shades of gray.
In the United States, the usage settings vary widely state to state, while in the UK they are only intended for use on private land or as part of a government approved urban test program.
Currently there is ongoing trials which takes place in more than 50 UK cities where rental scooters can be used on designated roads and cycle paths and testing is scheduled to run through spring 2022.
However, the priority of the safety of disabled pedestrians in these trials was highlighted in early summer when the UK government points bank refused stop the trial to ensure that all rental scooters could be fitted with appropriate audio warning systems.
This despite the fact that due to the limited number of scooters and rental models used for the test, such a measure could have been adopted within a few weeks.
This laissez-faire approach led Mike Bell, national public affairs manager at the Thomas Pocklington Trust, a UK charity for the blind and visually impaired, to comment: “The government has promised to examine pilots before taking long-term decisions. electric scooter rental programs.
Continuing, “early signs indicate that this will be an exercise in positive orientation rather than an independent assessment of their impact and effectiveness.”
Additional enhanced security measures that should be continued after the precipitation include increased use of geofencing or geotagging.
This implies that an electric scooter is simply cut off if a cyclist attempts to use it on a dangerous road or walkway.
A scheme currently overseen by Neuron Mobility in Ottawa, Canada encourages and encourages cyclists to take an “end of trip” photo of their properly docked electric scooter after each ride.
Ultimately, electric scooters will and should be part of the urban landscape of tomorrow.
While they’re not exactly an active and healthy form of transportation in the same way as bicycles, they offer a green alternative in the ongoing mission of reducing congestion and providing options for getting around.
Still, it doesn’t seem logical to match the breakneck speed of the devices themselves with the pace at which legislation needs to be passed.
There is still a lot to learn from the trials, particularly their impact on vulnerable pedestrians. Electric scooters should not be thrown out, either on the sidewalk or as a future round-trip option.
All parties may have a better understanding of when to apply the brakes.