Bicycles, e-scooters, e-bikes or even motorized skateboards have become extremely popular for short trips. But is micromobility safe?
This question was addressed in a recent report published by the International Transport Forum (ITF). Experts from the Corporate Partnership Board (CPB) examined safety aspects associated with e-scooters and other micro-vehicles. The study showed that overall traffic would become safer if e-scooter and bicycle trips replaced travel by car or motorcycle.
Tips for greater safety
The report also contains ten key safety recommendations on micromobility safety to help politicians, urban planners, but also operators and manufacturers ensure protection and well-being of all road users. This can be achieved by calming traffic or creating dedicated lanes. Micromobility should be included in training programs for road users. Also helpful: tackling drunk driving and speeding across all vehicle types. The full ITF study (in English) is available for free download.
PTV Group is one of the founding members of ITF’s Corporate Partnership Board. Together with other project partners, PTV has already examined current mobility issues in previous studies, such as the Lisbon Study.
What does the expert say: Is micromobility safe?
We spoke with Alexandre Santacreu about the results. He is a road safety policy analyst for the ITF and principal author of the report.
The Safe Micromobility study contains a lot of definitions and recommendations. What new findings were particularly impressive for you?
Alexandre Santacreu: What impressed me was the variety of forms which micro-vehicles can take, beyond the now ubiquitous e-scooters. I could mention electric skateboards and skates, pedal-assist or throttle-assist e-bikes, electric unicycles and other self-balancing devices. This variety makes the classification, regulation and enforcement extremely difficult. Hence why we only mention weight and speed in our classification.
Was there a surprising aspect for you personally?
Alexandre Santacreu: I was surprised to find evidence that e-scooter trips are not more dangerous than bicycle trips, which suggests a disproportionate media attention placed on e-scooter safety. This should not distract from the core safety failures of a transport system which often lacks physically protected lanes and paths for people to cycle or use e-scooters.
In order to achieve sustainability in global safety, health and environment, we recommend that nations and cities use urban and transport planning along with mobility policies to shift travel toward cleaner, safer and affordable modes, incorporating higher levels of physical activity such as walking, bicycling and use of public transit. This recommendation was included in the Stockholm Declaration, which contains the conclusions of the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety held in February 2020.
How can transport modeling and simulation contribute to micromobility safety?
Alexandre Santacreu: In the past, simulation tools have often favored status quo, neglecting the potential for mode shift and traffic evaporation. Therefore, I hope that such tools can now help authorities develop and test ambitious plans for the protection of people walking, using public transport or choosing micromobility. Such plans include wider protected bike lanes, pedestrian areas, shared streets, areas where through-traffic is eliminated, and other solutions.