The rise of electric scooters (e-scooters) in urban landscapes globally marks a shift towards more sustainable, enjoyable, and efficient modes of transportation. While these nimble vehicles offer significant benefits like easing traffic congestion and promoting better air quality, their increased popularity brings its own set of challenges, particularly concerning safety.
Recent research underscores a concerning trend: the surge in e-scooter use has led to a spike in accidents and injuries. The crux of the problem, as identified by a study from NTU, lies in the riders' limited knowledge of e-scooter regulations and safe riding practices.
The study highlights a direct correlation between unawareness of e-scooter rules and unsafe, sometimes illegal, riding behaviors. The research, led by senior lecturer Petya Ventsislavova at NTU’s School of Social Sciences, points out that many e-scooter users are young, often without a driver's license, and hence may not be familiar with standard traffic regulations.
This groundbreaking research comprises three distinct studies. The first study profiles e-scooter riders, revealing that they are typically younger than non-riders, mostly single, and predominantly male. Interestingly, most trips are short, with over half of the riders admitting to pavement riding and carrying passengers, practices often considered unsafe. The study also notes a gender disparity in rule-breaking behaviors, with men more likely to use phones or run red lights compared to women. Alarmingly, less than 15% reported wearing helmets.
The second study delves into both riders' and non-riders' understanding of key e-scooter regulations, covering aspects like bicycle lanes, parking, speed limits, and road usage. The findings show a general lack of rule awareness across all categories, especially concerning speed limits and designated parking areas.
The third study presents participants with hypothetical road scenarios in the UK, assessing their legal knowledge and intended behaviors. Around 46% of riders claimed they would avoid illegal riding if aware of the rules, but around 9% admitted to potentially engaging in unlawful riding regardless of their knowledge. Non-riders' responses followed a similar pattern.
Dr. Ventsislavova's conclusion is clear: better awareness and understanding of e-scooter regulations lead to more responsible and lawful riding. Access to training programs, increased rule awareness, and promotion of safer practices could significantly reduce collision rates.
Implementing these educational measures could also broaden the appeal of e-scooters, transforming them from a largely recreational tool into a legitimate, widely-accepted mode of transport. As cities evolve, understanding and adhering to e-scooter regulations will be key to ensuring these innovative vehicles contribute positively and safely to our urban environments.
Author: Benjamin Dai