According to this article published in Stuff, a study conducted by Auckland Council has concluded that the benefits of e-scooter use on footpaths and roads very clearly outweigh the injuries from their use.
The report points out that all modes of transport entail risk and give rise to injuries (including walking), and the evidence they collected showed that e-scooters are a less injurious and costly form of transport compared with journeys taken in cars and on bicycles.
…with the data available, the council said e-scooter mobility benefits “appear to be larger than the social costs, relative to the total social cost of transport injury in Auckland”.
Earlier this year Segway NZ News published a story e-Scooter accidents fall 41% over 4 months despite rider numbers soaring.
Now, latest figures from ACC show this overall trend continues downwards, despite ever-increasing ride sharing and private e-scooter ownership.
The chart above suggests the accident rate may also have seasonal variations. According to NZ Herald’s Chris Keal the majority of ACC-reported incidents are thought to be ride-sharing users, rather than private owners of e-scooters. This may be because private owners represent a group of users who are more skilful riders, are more risk-adverse, and operate mainly along regularly travelled commuting routes where risky portions of the journey are well-known so these risks can be self-managed. For obvious reasons e-scooter sharing users likely encounter novel environments on a far more regular basis.
The NZ Herald managed to entitle their article with the delightfully/shamefully misleading ACC e-scooter claims hit new high of $5.3m – so why is Government in slow lane? Yet this so-called new “high” is simply the sum of every prior month’s incidents added up together. A running total like this will always reach a “new high” with every passing month (because it can never go down).
The more interesting statistic is that November’s so-called “new high” is in fact the month with the third-lowest number of injuries from the preceding 13 months. This is despite the number of rides taken and number of e-scooters in use having increasing vastly during this same 13 month period.
December figures – still in the works – should show a drop. November 29 saw Auckland Council order Lime off Auckland streets after it failed to make the cut for the first official six-month e-scooter licensing period, which runs through to June 3. And it took until mid-January for newcomers Jump by Uber, Beam and Neuron to get their hardware on the city’s streets.
But now that they’ve arrived, ACC’s bill could spike. That’s because Auckland Council upped its cap on ride-share e-scooters from 1875 to 3200 as it introduced its first licence. That’s a problem because while more cycle lanes are being built, construction is still very much a work in progress…..We’ll get there. As commuters are keenly aware, a lot of new micro-mobility infrastructure is being but in place. And Cabinet will eventually stir into action and clean up the rules and we’ll see safer, more enjoyable scooting.
Stuff has since published an article sensationalising recent e-scooter accidents and dollar-total totals of ACC claims ($7m in 15 months). But buried at the very bottom of the article are the comparisons that shines perspective on the sensational headline:
- Cycling injuries cost taxpayers just under $74.7m – more than 10 times more than e-scooters*
- Skateboard and push scooter injuries also cost more, just over $16.1m and $11.3m respectively (collectively a total of 27.4m)
* in addition to simply comparing the total costs, it would be interesting to know the number of commuting trips (between points A and B) being taken by cyclists vs e-scooter riders in cities where both modes of transport are common. Most e-scooter trips are for commuting rather than recreational purposes, but the cyclist total does not split out journeys conducted primarily for commuting versus sports and recreational use.
Elsewhere, Stuff’s article focuses heavily on two individuals who fell off and injured themselves. Both men freely admit to the foolhardy decisions that led directly to their accidents:
- “Stewie” was riding drunk on a sharing scooter to get home after a night out on the town. He said he’d learnt from his experience, and in the future “…if I go drinking, I’ll be sticking with Uber.”
- Matt Marshall is reported to have admitted: “I was in a knee brace at the time and hated not being able to drive [a car], so I turned to an e-scooter to get me around. I had been on one a couple of times with the brace before and was fine so I wasn’t worried.” Ironically, he fell off the sharing scooter while riding home from an appointment with a physiotherapist who was treating his knee injury.
The third example of an (albeit minor) injury quoted in the article was from a story written by a Stuff reporter who, on his first ride, lost control and scuffed a little skin off his arm (see My heart says yes to Lime scooters, despite my humiliating fall from one). The article implied the journalist exceeds the safe rider weight limit of the device he had hired, and admits he set off on his first ride with an over-confident mindset. The article closes with a simplistic and obvious list of ‘Safe Riding Tips’ that concludes by urging riders to have fun…
SAFE RIDING TIPS
– Share the space: Respect the people around you by allowing space when passing, and if on the road, follow the road rules.
– Wear a helmet: It should fit nice and snug, and have two fingers of space from your eyebrows. If you do fall off and have a serious knock to the body or head, see a doctor.
– Start off slow: If you’ve never ridden a scooter before, get a feel for it first and find your balance before you go racing off.
– Have fun: Most of all, enjoy being out and about, and trying something new.
An announcement from government is expected during February 2020 about micro-mobility, after being bumped (for the second time) in November 2019. Chris Keal again:
It was July last year when Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter – who has the safety brief – first said the Government would consult on an update to our laws around micro-mobility transport. Supposedly, before the end of 2019.
Approached again by the Herald this month, Genter said a discussion paper would go to Cabinet “soon”. It would be followed by public discussion.
This briefing is likely to encompass ways to regulate e-scooters of various sizes (perhaps by speeds/power output/weight/size/number of wheels, etc), as well as a wide range of other personal mobility solutions including: self-balancing personal transporters such as full-size Segway PTs and their seated configurations (e.g. the just-announced Segway S-Pod, and the Segway PT-based BodyElectric MAX and Omeo “power chairs”), smaller self-balancing devices such as Segway products (S-series/mini-series) – and their less-stable cousins we call “Hoverboards” – along with nimble one-wheeled Electric Unicycles, and a range of 3- and 4-wheeled personal mobility devices.
UPDATED: Another article in NZ Herald by Chris Keal (9 February 2019) presents data up to January 2020 (although it is unclear if this is for the full month).
Curiously, the data presented in the 9 February article varies in certain months with the data in the 28 January article (upon which Segway NZ’s above graph is compiled). For comparison, we present a graph below generated from the data reported 9 February, which continues to show a downward trend.