According to roadway ombudsman StreetBlog NYC, a new report on e-scooter injuries demonstrates the need for separated lanes in New York City. The report in question was published by the car insurance industry-funded Insurance Institute, and found that e-scooter riders “are more likely to injure themselves by riding on the sidewalk than get injured by a car driver on the road.” StreetsBlog argues that whereas the report intends to suggest e-scooters are unsafe, it rather shows the need to reduce the number of cars on the road.
The Insurance Institute’s research showed that 58% of e-scooter riders suffered injuries while riding on sidewalks. Its researchers interviewing “more than 100 e-scooter riders whose injuries brought them to the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., between March and November 2019,” according to IIHS. In one study, researchers looked at the correlation between the severity of riders’ injuries and the location where they were injured. Another study “compared the rider demographics, usage patterns and injuries to those of 377 bicyclists who were interviewed as part of an earlier study.” What the researchers ultimately found was that e-scooter riders sustained injuries more frequently than bicyclists, although cyclists “were 3 times as likely as scooter riders to be hit by motor vehicles,” while scooter riders “were twice as likely as bicyclists” to suffer infrastructure-related injuries, such as those caused by potholes or curbs.
StreetsBlog argues that the study shows that streets are so unsafe they force e-scooter riders onto sidewalks, where they are more likely to sustain or cause injuries. On the other hand, it notes, e-scooter riders rarely suffer injuries in infrastructure like protected bike lanes: as one rider said in the study, “We used the bike lane when one was available, but I personally don’t feel safe riding a scooter in the middle of traffic.”
StreetsBlog sought input from a number of e-scooter companies. A representative for Link said that “Sidewalk riding is a survival strategy,” and that until cities set up protected lines, riders should “be prepared to get off and walk” whenever they need to use the sidewalk. A spokesperson for Lime, meanwhile, said, “Adding street space for vulnerable road users like scooter riders, cyclists and pedestrians at the expense of cars is the number one way to make streets safer for all.” A cover letter by the Insurance Institute provided some credence to the argument for protected lines, noting that “Past research has shown that most e-scooter riders prefer the bike lane overall, and the Institute found that one was rarely available in the instances in which riders were injured in the road or sidewalk.”
For more information on the Insurance Institute’s report and its implications for e-scooter riders, check out the StreetsBlog analysis here.