Bath, Bristol and South Gloucestershire have witnessed a shift in urban mobility, according to an evaluation of an e-scooter trial in the region by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), which revealed one in 15 residents use the micromobility mode every month.
Launched in October 2020, the e-scooter scheme, one of 32 trials authorised by the UK government, has become a common sight across west England regions, with usage levels three times higher than any other scheme in England.
The initiative, operated by Voi Technology initially and soon to be taken over by Tier Mobility, has offered short and long-term e-scooter rentals to the public.
Commissioned by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), UWE Bristol’s researchers examined data from the trial, including usage patterns, collision and injury data, and user interactions with other street users.
Furthermore, interviews were conducted with both e-scooter users and non-users to gain a comprehensive understanding of the programme’s effects.
Kiron Chatterjee, professor of travel behaviour at UWE Bristol, who led the study, said: “Our findings indicate that e-scooters have become an integral part of life in the region, with approximately 64,000 people using rental e-scooters each month.
“These riders predominantly include younger adults aged 18-35 who have found the e-scooters to be a convenient mode of transportation for work, college, university, leisure, and shopping.”
However, the study also highlighted some disparities in e-scooter usage. Younger adults, particularly those without access to cars, were the primary beneficiaries, raising questions about broader adoption of e-scooters across the population.
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One area of concern was the interaction between e-scooters and other road users. Dr Jonathan Flower, senior research fellow at UWE Bristol, reported a high number of near-misses involving e-scooters, cyclists, and motor vehicles, particularly concerning riding close to parked vehicles.
The study also found that only 9% of e-scooter users wore helmets, which may explain the high injury rates from falls.
In response to the findings, Flower emphasised the importance of well-designed cycling infrastructure to ensure the safety of all road users.
Chatterjee also expressed optimism about the upcoming changes. “The new contract, starting this autumn, will offer e-cycles alongside e-scooters, making the system more appealing to a wider demographic.”
The WECA acknowledged the evaluation’s findings and plans to address identified issues in the next phase of the trial, which will introduce e-cycle rentals and improved parking management to reduce adverse impacts on pedestrians.
Innovations and achievements in micromobility and shared mobility will be highlighted and celebrated at the second annual CiTTi Awards on 21 November 2023 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Visit www.cittiawards.co.uk to learn more about this unmissable event for the UK’s transportation sector – and to book your table today!