E-Scooters Rev Up Urban Mobility and Debate
October 19, 2018
Photo courtesy GovTech
Within the past year, cities and college campuses have found a new, cutting-edge form of transportation trending amongst their populations: e-scooters. E-scooters’ innovative approach to the “urban mobility” crisis has left an abundance of West Coast cities seriously investing in revolutionary mode of transport.
In response to increasing city traffic and pollution, businesses such as the ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber have been heavily involved in promoting the availability of electric scooters to cities and universities. However, the emergence of electric scooters has developed associated issues such as user safety and prevalent injury among younger generations.
The explosion of e-scooters has left decisions of appropriate implementation and regulation up to individual cities. Tackling the correct approach to the new technology has become a main concern of Elizabeth Deakin, professor emerita of city & regional planning and urban design at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.
“Scooters are new to [the San Francisco Bay Area], and we’re learning how to deal with them,” noted Elizabeth Deakin. “We’re seeing crashes with broken wrists, arms…and some head injuries. People don’t wear helmets because riding a scooter is a spur-of-the-moment decision rather than a planned decision, so people don’t carry helmets around with them all day long.”
Deakin also detailed the emerging, yet dangerous trend of electric scooters within the demographic of younger people, viable to “hit and scoots,” and travelers in a recent Knowledge@Wharton radio show on SiriusXM where she joined Megan Ryerson, an assistant professor of city & regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Scarier still,” added Deakin, “are tourists who think that e-scooters will add a bit of adventure to their trip, even though they don’t know where they’re going or how to get there.”
The management and supervision of cities regarding electric scooters combats the rise of its prevailing issues. As a result, the awareness and effectiveness of the sought-after transport will continue, suggested Deakin.
“The data is missing right now,” said Deakin. “If companies could be enticed or regulated [to share] their data, we would benefit because we would have all kinds of better information about safety and urban travel.”
In a effect, cities have begun to implement pilot programs to harness the impact and possibility of the new, unexplored manner of “urban mobility” with physical metrics and data and uncover correlating consequences in relation to the city. As cities and campuses discover more, areas could possibly begin to adapt and develop infrastructure that benefits the use of electric scooters.