10 recommendations for safer micromobility
Micromobility is here to stay, and will become an increasingly normalised part of any corporate mobility policy. But how safe is it, and how can fleet and mobility managers make it safer? Here are 10 recommendations.
A recent survey by consultants McKinsey shows that almost 70% of mobility users are open to using bicycles, mopeds, e-scooters and other forms of micromobility for their commute to work, although that openness varies per country – greater in countries with a long tradition of micromobility (e.g. Italy and China), smaller in those without (e.g. the U.S.)
This dovetails with a willingness, from the perspective of fleet and mobility managers, to consider the broadest possible range of solutions to fulfil the mobility needs of their employees.
However, micromobility is still in its infancy, and is going through some growing pains. And not just in terms of general operability or corporate applicability, but also when it comes to the important topic of safety.
Late last year, a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report indicated that injuries from e-scooters in the U.S. rose from 7,700 in 2017 to 25,400 in 2020. Incomplete data suggests there were at least 71 fatalities involving micromobility in that period.
With a comparable rise in the popularity of e-scooters and other micromoblity modes, Europe is likely experiencing a similar increase in injuries. So, how can corporates make sure that the micromobility they want to offer to their employees is as safe as possible?
They can do some things, but it’s not all up to them. As becomes apparent in these 10 recommendations for safe micromobilty, formulated by the International Transport Forum, the issue depends on the efforts of many stakeholders, not just companies, also national and local governments, manufacturers, providers, and last but not least – users.
1. Protected space
Allocate protected space for micromobiltiy, by calming traffic or by creating dedicated spaces. Micro-vehicles should be banned from sidewalks or subject to a low speed limit.
2. Focus on motor vehicles
E-scooters are fun, but they’re also motor vehicles, thus posing risk to more vulnerable road users that share their space. So: ensure speed limits for e-scooters are 30 km/h or less.
3. Regulate like bicycles
To prevent over-regulation, low-speed micro-vehicles such as e-scooters and e-bikes should be treated as bicycles. Faster micro-vehicles should be regulated as mopeds.
4. Collect data
Police and hospitals should collect accurate crash data. Road safety agencies should collect trip data via operators, travel surveys and on-street observation.
5. Improve streets
Many shared micro-vehicles have motion sensors and GPS. These can yield useful data on potholes, falls and near crashes.This can be used to improve street maintenance and networking.
6. Train road users
Training for car, bus and truck drivers to avoid crashes with micro-vehicle riders should be mandatory. Cycle training should be part of the school curriculum.
7. Tackle drunk driving and speeding
Governments should define and enforce limits on speed, alcohol and drug use among all traffic participants - including micromobility users.
8. Eliminate incentives to speed
Operators of shared micromobility fleets should ensure their pricing mechanisms do not encourage riders to take risks. By-the-minute rental can be an incentive to speed or to ignore traffic rules.
9. Improve design
Manufacturers should enhance stability and road grip. Solutions could be found in pneumatic tyres, larger wheel size and frame geometry. Indicator lights could be made mandatory and brake cables better protected.
10. Reduce risks associated with shared micromobility
The use of vans for re-positioning or re-charging micro-vehicles should be minimised, as they impose additional risks on all road users. Cities should allocate parking space for micro-vehicles close to bays for support vans.
In conclusion: the safe and responsible way for corporates to offer micromobility is to be aware of the complexities of this varied field, and to maximise the precautions taken by entering into dialogue with all stakeholders.