The rising trend of electric scooter use in metropolitan areas is here to stay and can protect and strengthen city infrastructure in a unique way that cities and campuses can manage for the long term. While 2020 was full of changes, electric scooters benefit metropolitan areas and campuses in a variety of “shift-proof” ways.
At the onset of the pandemic, the use of micromobility options like electric scooters and bikeshare programs jumped 67 percent in New York City alone. Additionally, many large metro areas like Chicago are now announcing partnerships to expand micromobility offerings heading into the summer of 2021. Various operators are already active in Georgia, in cities and on campuses. Those operators include Spin, Helbiz, Lime, Bird and VeoRide.
Electric Scooter Benefits for Cities
Microtransportation and micromobility in Georgia aren’t new, but research indicates these will continue to be a quality solution for cities looking to maximize infrastructure investments and minimize environmental impacts. Docking systems began their rise in 2007, with the very first docked bike system launching in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A mere 12 years later, there were nearly 200 systems across the country.
The benefits are clear. These systems rely far less on expensive infrastructure for traditional vehicles. In many cities, e-scooter options are now quicker modes of transportation than a car, reducing gridlock and parking woes. They can also be a key piece in mixed-mode transportation, allowing metros to make the most of their public transportation investments. Overall public health is another benefit of electric scooter use: Riders are socially distant and not burning gas in populated areas, and maybe even getting a bit of exercise. And by operating without fossil fuels, these systems eliminate exhaust emissions in densely populated areas.
“Lime is focused on supporting cities to meet their climate goals, while providing transportation alternatives for residents, which can help avoid traffic-choked streets and dangerous crashes,” said Lisette Garcia, government relations director, Lime Southeastern Division.
Operators like Lime, Helbiz, Spin, Bird and others have internal teams already aligned and ready to work with local governments to enhance how they serve riders.
Electric Scooter Benefits and Safety for Campus Environments
While the initial explosion of electric scooter use did result in an initial uptick in crashes and injuries, we now know more about the best approaches for prevention and education. Injuries were most common in younger age groups and first-time riders, while older riders tended to be the safest of all demographics. Safety and crash prevention is a primary concern for all local governments, but especially schools and university campuses.
“We place deliberate focus on working hand-in-hand with college campuses,” Garcia said. “This results in campuses having more breathable air, reduced need to build new parking facilities, and students who get to class on time.”
Like local governments, school and campus environments can help ensure safer travel via micromobility by instituting bike lanes or specialty lanes for these vehicles. Operators gladly work with governments on limiting time frames and curfews for ridership, which keep students on two feet at the times when crashes are most likely to occur. One other noted factor around head injuries in riders is helmet use (or lack of). According to Austin Public Health’s Dockless Electric Scooter-Related Injury Study, in 190 head injuries reported, only one occurred with a rider wearing a helmet – making this a policy that campus and university sites can address through helmet-use requirements. Ultimately, education and prevention before stepping on the electric scooter for the first time is key to ensuring safety for riders and pedestrians alike.
“On college campuses micromobility is particularly useful, helping students and faculty get from one end of campus to the other in mere minutes, ensuring they are on time for every class and event,” said Robbie Keltz, U.S. partnerships manager at Helbiz.
The benefits of e-scooter use in campus environments are immediate and impactful. These include lower transportation costs, reduced traffic and emissions, less need for sprawling parking facilities and lots, and a faster commute for nearby students and those housed on campus.
As large cities face everything the past few years have thrown at us and look toward managing and enabling responsible growth, efficient transportation, and public safety, the case remains strong for electric scooters, e-bikes, and other options. With accessible safety education programs like Georgia’s Scoot Safe campaign, cities and municipalities can offer a revolutionary form of transportation that crosses age, socioeconomic, and lifestyle boundaries to unite citizens in the enjoyment of a new, efficient, and modern mode of quick transportation – one that maximizes rider enjoyment and minimizes carbon footprint.
Together, operators and city and state governments can partner to ensure this new offering safely gets citizens to their next destination.Zoom to our Resources section and learn how to make micromobility even safer in Georgia and beyond.