Browse Publications Technical Papers 2019-01-1007

Behavior of Electric Scooter Operators in Naturalistic Environments 2019-01-1007

The use of electric scooters (e-scooters), which are more generally categorized as motorized scooters, has undergone explosive growth owing to “scooter share” programs in which an e-scooter is rented for a limited period of time. The near-spontaneous ubiquity of e-scooters has prompted government and scooter share companies to address issues partly motivated by concerns related to the inclusion of a large population of e-scooters into vehicular traffic. These issues are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of the scooter operators, who, despite being licensed to drive passenger vehicles, potentially have limited experience operating an e-scooter in the presence of traffic. E-scooters are in a relative unique position where they are small enough to negotiate pedestrian traffic, yet fast enough to travel on roadways. This enables an e-scooter operator to change when and where he rides, e.g., from traveling on a sidewalk to riding in a clear traffic lane in order to avoid a group of pedestrians standing at an intersection. Such changes may catch nearby motorists off-guard, thereby increasing the risk of a collision with the e-scooter. The present observational study assessed e-scooter rider behavior in west Los Angeles, a region with a robust presence of rental e-scooters. The large population, preponderance of e-scooters, and high traffic volumes provide an exemplary area to observe not just how drivers and e-scooter riders adapt to one-another’s presence, but also the increased risk of an interaction between e-scooters with other vehicles and pedestrians. Operator behavior of rented e-scooters is quantified and reviewed according to current regulations, public concerns regarding e-scooters, and behaviors present that may affect an individual’s ability to safely operate an e-scooter in the presence of traffic, including both vehicular and pedestrian.


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