Despite a massive increase in the number of rides being taken, and growing personal ownership of e-Scooters, ACC figures show the number of reported accidents has been falling steadily.
By last month, incidents were down more than 40% from the January 2019 peak (from 427 down to 253 in May).
This drop is not surprising. Rather, it was to be expected as the flush of novice riders gained a little riding experience. While incidents have fallen every month since January, over this same time period the number of towns with sharing scooters has increased from two to six, the number of businesses offering sharing scooters in half of these towns has doubled or tripled – and with all this the number of rides being taken by people has soared. Additionally, since Christmas the number of privately owned e-Scooters has increased by thousands of devices.
Starkly, the facts are at odds with the tone of recent media articles about e-Scooter safety.
When sharing scooters hit the streets of Auckland an Christchurch during Summer 2018-19 it was entirely predicable there would be a quick jump up in reported accidents. Adults who’d not been on a Kickscooter since childhood leapt at the idea of having a go on one again – only this time with an added motor!
What fun there was to be had!
Not to mention a whole lot of benefits: increased personal productivity around town, faster and more convenient commuting trips, savings in petrol/parking/taxis/bus fares, etc. And (potentially) the increased utilisation of existing cycling infrastructure that would drive further investment in this area. Progressively minded Councils around New Zealand were quick to recognise these many benefits and embraced the arrival of sharing scooter businesses just a few months after they rolled out in a few cities across USA.
But while that little kid may have grown into a big adult, the laws of physics hadn’t changed since childhood. When a full-sized human gets on a small personal transportation device they need to (re)learn some basic facts: small wheels have limitations.
As with learning to ride any new wheeled conveyance safely, it takes a little bit of experience to work out out how to avoid objects and others, discover the limitations of the braking system (especially on hills or in the wet), gain a new perspective on just how rough some footpaths really are when feet are swapped for tiny wheels, and what it means to politely share the footpath/shared path/roadway in a considerate manner. As the ACC statistics reveal, a small portion of individuals experience an injury while learning, and for others it happens simply while going about their business (….just as some people trip and fall while walking, others crash while driving their bike or car). Riding an e-Scooter is not risk-free.
But humans learn quickly. The graph of ACC data above proves this. In a matter of weeks a fair portion of the population in towns with sharing scooters have up-skilled, upped their transport options, and upped their productivity getting from A to B. Within six months we’ve witnessed a total transformation!
Despite what the noisey complainerati may claim, a quick look around the streets of Auckland in June 2019 reveals it is obvious e-Scooter riders have figured out how to be nice, polite and accommodating as they get around town, while pedestrians are nonplussed as they pass by.