Scooting to a New Era in Active Transportation: Examining the Use and Safety of E-Scooters

Kristina Currans, University of Arizona

Co-investigators:

Summary:

The modern transportation paradigm is an ever-shifting target, and most recently, micro-mobility options such as electric shared scooter systems (e-scooters) have been contributing to local municipalities’ ability to adapt. Although several agencies have moved towards a “regulate-pilot-evaluate-revise” approach to addressing the transformative technologies of e-scooters, the seemingly overnight proliferation of this new mode in urban areas has brought a great deal of discussion about how this technology is (and should) be used by the consumer. Safety considerations for both e-scooter and conventional transportation mode users is of great concern to planners and decision makers. It is important to understand the characteristics of micro-mobility users to determine the potential impacts of the ubiquitous adoption of this new mode. If users are coming from other modes, or if they are making trips that otherwise would not have been made, this has implications on future demand for active transportation infrastructure.

This study leverages on-going work at the University of Utah focusing on safety implications of e-scooters and an on-going collaboration between the University of Arizona and the City of Tucson to monitor a six-month pilot of e-scooters in the Tucson, Arizona area. This study considers three specific research questions:
Q1.	Are micro-mobility options synergistic, substitutive, or complementary to conventional transportation modes (e.g., biking via personal or shared bicycles, walking, public transit or automobile use) for different trip purposes and activities (e.g., commuting, restaurants, grocery stores, or recreational)? 
Q2.	How safely do micro-mobility users interact with other modes in different types of active transportation infrastructure?
Q3.	Are the use and safety implications disproportionately linked to specific users (e.g., demographics, infrastructure and/or urban context locations) and trip purposes or activities?

Impacts:

The results from this study can be used to prioritize and revise regulations and requirements for new micro-mobility options in mid-sized cities. The findings from this study's third question--evaluating the equitable access and use to areas of disadvantages and corresponding fleet incentives--will inform cities beyond Tucson and Salt Lake to determine if these incentives operate adequately or if more vender requirements may be needed to monitor companies. Similarly, the results from this study's first question on modal-substitution can provide evidence for/against considering micro-mobility options as a feasible strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions of short-trip travel.

Project Details

Project Type:
Research
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
November 30,2020
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Round 3
UTC Funding:
$53,702