John MacArthur


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Electric scooters -- Evaluation, Electric scooters -- United States -- Public opinion, Electric Scooters -- accidents -- United States -- Statistics


In the last few years, electronic scooters have taken over cities as a means of personal transportation. Between 2017 and 2019 alone, over 30 million trips were recorded across over 100 cities in the US. These scooters pose a safety risk, as 20 in 100,000 trips will result in injury of the rider. On top of this, scooters can cause damage to property, injury pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers, as well as obstruct important infrastructure such as wheelchair ramps. For these reasons, it is important to develop an understanding of the factors that contribute to e-scooter related injuries in order to guide the city of Portland toward reducing said injuries.

There is a growing body of research related to e-scooter injuries, however, studies have had to remain narrow in scope while understanding of e-scooters grows. Cities have conducted safety reviews, surveys have been run, ER reports have been examined, and news articles have been mined. My efforts are to aggregate these resources into one cohesive body of knowledge on which methods are best for increasing e-scooter safety. There are distinct biases associated with each method of analysis: cities have political agendas, surveys have sampling and questionnaire bias, and news articles/ER findings are biased towards severe or sensational incidents. By reviewing all of these sources of information, I aim to minimize the biases associated with each one. Additionally, I seek to look at data across multiple cities in order to identify which cities have the lowest injury rates and why.

If successful, I plan to provide a clear and direct path towards reducing e-scooter related injuries. I intend to provide specific advice such as “increase protected bike lanes”, or “require helmets and enforce them by doing x”. Cities have been encumbered with the task of managing these scooters with little notice, and I would like to provide them (especially Portland) with practical guidance in how to manage this novel form of micro mobility.

While a fully realized macro analysis of safety was not possible in the 10 week time constraint, I have confirmed some key ideas that cities can focus on to improve e-scooter safety. There are many factors that a city can adjust to increase safety, name education, public outreach, requiring helmets, geofencing, and restricting sidewalk driving. However, the most effective means of increasing safety appears to be infrastructure. Having more bike lanes and more protected bike lanes was the biggest factor in determining safety and comfort levels.

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