"Electric scooters are no more dangerous than bicycles and encouraging their use could make cities safer, a study has concluded.
A trip by a car or motorcycle in a dense urban area is “much more likely” to result in the death of a road user — including pedestrians — than one using a light micro-vehicle such as an e-scooter, according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
“A road fatality is not significantly more likely when using a shared standing e-scooter rather than a bicycle,” the authors wrote after a workshop with 40 participants from 15 countries. “The risk of an emergency department visit for an e-scooter rider is similar to that for cyclists.”
Scooters with electric motors are used for short journeys in many European countries and in the US. Serveral companies, including Lime and Bird, offer them for hire, often in competition with bicycle schemes.
They are banned from UK roads and pavements but that does not stop many people from using them. The metropoliton Police caughtnearly 100 riders in London in one week last summer. Most offenders were given a warning but ten were fined and had their scooters seized, as a result of aggravating factors such as travelling too fast or ignoring a red light.
Emily Hartridge, 35, a YouTube star and TV presenter, became the first person in the UK to be killed while riding an e-scooter when she was struck by a lorry in Battersea, south London, on July 12 last year.
The following day, a 14 year old boy suffered a serious head injury after crashing into a bus stop in Beckenham, southeast London.
In March last year the Department for Transport launched a review of legislation to accommodate changes in the way people and goods move, which could lead to e-scooters being legalised for road use.
The OECD's International Transport Forum warned that "considerable regulatory challenges exist" due to the rapid pace of innovation in microvechicles such as e-scooters. It recommends that cities allocate "protected space" through measures such as traffic calming or dedicated lanes.
It called for e-scooters to be banned from the pavements and subjected to "low enforced speed limit". The forum also urged manufactures to improve the scooters stability and road grip to improve safety.
A recent report by the traffic information supplier Inrix found that journey times in the UK's most gridlocked cities could be cut if e-scooters were legalised. E-scooters and electric bicycles could complete short journeys quicker than vechicles in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Sheffield research found."
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