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  • It seems like e-scooters

  • have been popping up everywhere in the last few years.

  • Companies like Bird, Lime, and Ojo

  • have placed their e-scooters in over 100

  • cities and towns around the world.

  • And they're even more popular in the US

  • than bike-sharing programs,

  • according to the National Association

  • of City Transportation Officials.

  • But, while those bike-sharing programs seem

  • to have it all figured out,

  • dock-less e-scooters have hit some speed bumps

  • along the way.

  • The e-scooter premise is simple.

  • You use an app to find and unlock a scooter near you,

  • ride it where you need to go,

  • and then leave it there for the next person.

  • The company takes care of charging the battery

  • and making sure the scooters are where they need to be.

  • Pricing varies, but generally there is

  • an initial unlocking fee along with a per-minute fee.

  • Some other additional fees are possible,

  • like if you venture outside the scooter's "home zone."

  • The scooters are designed to tackle transportation

  • and congestion issues in towns and cities.

  • Sure, the scooters are a form of shared mobility

  • and are convenient and affordable,

  • but that doesn't mean they're perfect.

  • Pedestrians, cars, bikes, pretty much everyone

  • is trying to adapt to sharing the roads and sidewalks,

  • while riders are confused about where to use them

  • and what regulations to follow.

  • Sidewalk, bike lane, or road?

  • With traffic or against it?

  • And then there's the question of parking.

  • Without designated docking stations for e-scooters,

  • they can end up in a pile,

  • obstructing sidewalks and crosswalks.

  • It's not so much the scooters themselves

  • that are to blame,

  • but the people behind the handlebars

  • who choose to ignore the rules.

  • These aren't problems that can be easily ignored.

  • And parking issues aren't the biggest concern

  • when it comes to e-scooters.

  • Tarak Trivedi: There are definite dangers, including death.

  • I mean, we've seen a number of deaths already

  • since they've been introduced.

  • That's UCLA Health emergency physician

  • Tarak Trivedi.

  • After seeing so many patients with scooter-related injuries,

  • he decided to study them and publish the results.

  • Trivedi: So, anecdotally, some of the stories

  • that I've heard are:

  • I fell off. I don't know how.

  • The break didn't work appropriately.

  • The accelerator got stuck.

  • There was a pothole in the road that I missed.

  • I was riding, and the sidewalk was a little bit uneven,

  • and I sort of just tipped over.

  • Hit by cars,

  • of course, intoxication and not paying attention.

  • The Associated Press reported there were

  • 11 deaths linked to e-scooters from the start of 2018

  • through June of 2019.

  • But that's a rough estimate,

  • since there's no official data available.

  • And that's not including the 1,500 injuries also reported

  • in that same time period.

  • Trivedi: Overall, we found 249 emergency-department visits

  • that were associated with an

  • electric-scooter use of some sort.

  • Some other results that we found interesting

  • were that almost no one was wearing a helmet.

  • Approximately 30% of our injured

  • patients actually had some sort of fracture,

  • and 40% of them had some sort of head injury.

  • Those stats are kind of alarming.

  • They should make helmets a requirement, right?

  • There's a lot of arguments

  • inside of required, mandatory-helmet laws.

  • On one hand, we know that helmets protect the skull

  • and brain. However, some cyclists

  • and cyclist-advocacy organizations

  • argue against mandatory-helmet laws,

  • saying that it makes people less likely

  • to use bicycles in general.

  • And the same applies to e-scooters.

  • Which means local governments have to do all they can

  • to keep riders safe.

  • And in some cities, that means no e-scooters at all.

  • New York City, for example,

  • has yet to install an e-scooter program

  • because of safety and infrastructure concerns.

  • But just across the Hudson River,

  • in the 1-square-mile city of Hoboken, New Jersey,

  • e-scooters are everywhere.

  • Hoboken has pilot e-scooter programs

  • with both Lime and Ojo

  • in hopes of addressing their lack of street space

  • and parking demands.

  • Ryan Sharp: The benefit of doing a pilot program

  • for six months is that it gives the city an opportunity

  • to test out the model of e-scooter sharing.

  • To put out surveys to the public, to get their feedback,

  • and to collect data to see how popular

  • or how much ridership is happening through this program.

  • Narrator: Pilot programs help these cities learn

  • what works, what doesn't,

  • and where they can make improvements,

  • like setting safety standards

  • and better educating scooter riders.

  • Sharp: Some of the major rules that everybody has to follow

  • includes no riding on sidewalks,

  • you must ride in the direction of traffic.

  • There's an age requirement,

  • you must be 18 years or older to ride.

  • Only one rider per scooter, so no tandem riding.

  • Narrator: Rules are posted on the scooters

  • on signs around the city

  • and reinforced in the app itself.

  • It's in the scooter company's best interest

  • to comply with all the local laws.

  • As the vehicles become more widespread,

  • cities like Washington, DC, and Atlanta

  • are imposing strict restrictions on their usage

  • or banning them completely.

  • Some of these polices may be the result

  • of rider misuse, like breaking local laws

  • and leaving scooters in all the wrong places.

  • But at least they're better for the environment, right?

  • Not quite.

  • In fact, compared to other transport options,

  • e-scooters are not as green and eco-friendly

  • as you might think.

  • A study published in the journal

  • Environmental Research Letters

  • found that a lot of greenhouse gases are created when

  • manufacturing and transporting the scooters.

  • In fact, scooters typically emit more greenhouse gases

  • than buses with high ridership and electric bikes.

  • But it doesn't look like they're going to go away

  • anytime soon.

  • They're convenient, easy, and, we have to admit, fun.

  • So how do you keep everyone safe

  • and not infuriate local residents

  • with sky-high piles of scooters?

  • It's a shared responsibility between the riders,

  • pedestrians, companies, and local governments.

  • Towns and cities need to make sure they designate

  • where scooters should be ridden

  • and keep them safe for everyone.

  • In Hoboken, local police are enforcing scooter rules

  • through citations and suspending

  • or even terminating accounts.

  • Meanwhile, companies need to make sure

  • that they are enforcing the rules

  • and that the scooters are not disruptive

  • to local residents.

  • As for the riders, they need to understand and acknowledge

  • they are operating a moving vehicle.

  • Trivedi: A number of people also came in intoxicated.

  • About 10% of our riders were actually under the legal age;

  • they were under 18 years of age.

  • Narrator: It's clear changes need to be made

  • to make e-scooters safer and less disruptive.

  • We don't really think about it now,

  • but before 1915, stop signs for cars didn't exist,

  • and the US had no uniform approach to street safety

  • until the mid-1920s.

  • Hopefully, it won't take that long to solve the issues

  • e-scooters present.

  • And if you're riding one, consider wearing a helmet.

  • Follow all the local rules, and maybe stick to areas

  • without many pedestrians or cars.

  • Don't leave it in the middle of the sidewalk.

  • And don't forget to enjoy the ride.

  • It, like, doesn't, whoa!

It seems like e-scooters

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Why E-Scooters Are Taking Over Cities | Untangled

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/24
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