ArticlePDF Available

Can e-scooters solve the ‘last mile’ problem? They’ll need to avoid the fate of dockless bikes

Article

Can e-scooters solve the ‘last mile’ problem? They’ll need to avoid the fate of dockless bikes

Authors
Neil Sipe
Professor of Urban and Regional Planning,
The University of Queensland
Dorina Pojani
Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning, The
University of Queensland
A
cademic rigour, journalistic flair
September 21, 2018 6.13am AEST
A
s urban planners, we have not been good at integrating land uses, such as homes, shops and offices,
with our transport infrastructure. Thus many people find the nearest train or bus stop is too far too
Electric scooters could solve the ‘last mile’ problem of urban transport if operators learn from the
mistakes that plagued the introduction of dockless bikes. CrowdSpark/AAP
Can e-scooters solve the 'last mile' problem? They'll need to avoid the f... https://theconversation.com/can-e-scooters-solve-the-last-mile-problem...
1 of 4 24/09/2018, 10:51 a
m
walk and too close to drive (even if they could be sure of finding parking). This has created what is
commonly known as the “last mile” problem.
In some Australian cities, hilliness and hot summers add to this problem. The consequences for
people’s work commute are obvious. In the end, many people find it’s simplest to drive to and from
work.
Over the past 12 months, something new has been promoted as the solution to the last mile problem.
Shared e-scooters are reportedly on their way to Australia. Powered by a rechargeable battery, these
are dockless, have a range of 20-60 kilometres per charge and a top speed of 24 kilometres per hour.
R
ead more: Don't ignore the mobility scooter. It may just be the future of transport
Businesses on the move
The two main e-scooter companies, Lime and Bird, have attracted the most interest. Several other
smaller companies have entered the e-scooter market this year, including Scoot, Skip and Spin.
While both are new ventures, Bird and Lime have raised considerable funding in a short time.
Bird, founded by a former Uber executive late last year, has a market valuation of US$2 billion after
raising US$400 million in venture capital over the past four months. Bird has e-scooters in 74 US
cities, Windsor (Canada), Tel Aviv and Paris, as well as on 22 university campuses.
Lime was founded in January 2017 as a bikeshare business, but has branched out to e-bikes and
Electric scooters can travel up to 60km with a top speed of more than 20km/h. Juan Carlos Cardenas/EPA
Can e-scooters solve the 'last mile' problem? They'll need to avoid the f... https://theconversation.com/can-e-scooters-solve-the-last-mile-problem...
2 of 4 24/09/2018, 10:51 a
m
e-scooters in the past six months. It operates in 49 US cities and seven European cities, as well as on
20 university campuses, although e-scooters have not been deployed at all locations. A group of
investors including Uber recently put US$335 million into Lime, which is valued at US$1.1 billion.
Some believe Uber will buy Lime as a step in its quest to build a multi-modal transport platform that
provides car, bicycle and scooter sharing services.
R
ead more: Our new PM wants to 'bust congestion' – here are four ways he could do
that
W
hat’s the appeal of e-scooters?
Uber is interested in e-scooters and e-bicycles because many of its ridesharing trips are short ones
that could be made by e-scooters.
If Uber could shift its short-distance passengers from cars to e-scooters, it would be able to use fewer
drivers and reduce operating costs. The remaining drivers would be transporting passengers over
longer distances for higher fares.
Shared e-scooters provide a number of advantages over shared e-bikes. The rider can stand up which,
for office workers, means no wrinkling of clothes. The posture is also easier for women wearing skirts
and dresses.
Scooters are also easier than bicycles to manoeuvre along narrow paths. In some places, e-scooters
are not subject to helmet requirements (unlike bicycles).
How to avoid the fate of dockless bikes
E-scooters are not without some disadvantages. Because they are dockless, they tend to litter
footpaths, parks and even rivers.
This is similar to the problems presented by dockless share bikes. A number of dockless bike share
companies have been forced to withdraw services in Australia because of this.
R
ead more: Oh no, oBikes are leaving Melbourne! But this doesn't mean bike sharing
schemes are dead
Many communities lack appropriate means of regulating them. The
question of whether e-scooters should be allowed on footpaths or only on
roads and bike paths remains unanswered. (Given that they have a top
speed of 24km/h, e-scooters travelling on footpaths pose a safety
concern.)
Can e-scooters solve the 'last mile' problem? They'll need to avoid the f... https://theconversation.com/can-e-scooters-solve-the-last-mile-problem...
3 of 4 24/09/2018, 10:51 a
m
Urban planning Public transport Litter urban transport Transport policy Cities & Policy
Lime and Bird have tried to deal with these problems. For example, Bird
has committed to a Save our Sidewalks (SOS) pledge and has encouraged
other e-scooter share companies to do the same. The pledge has three
components:
daily pick-ups of e-scooters every evening and redeployment the
next day
responsible growth in the number of scooters deployed based on
actual usage
revenue sharing of US$1 per scooter per day with host cities for the
purposes of building and maintaining bike lanes and promoting safe
riding.
A
dopting an Uber idea, Lime pays for people to collect and charge the scooters each night.
While we have no e-scooter share systems in Australia yet, both Lime and Bird are reportedly looking
to launch here soon. How will they fare? Are Australian cities prepared for them?
R
ead more: Electric scooters on collision course with pedestrians and lawmakers
Facts matter. Your tax-deductible donation helps deliver fact-based journalism.
Make a donation
E-scooters have run into problems in Valencia, Spain,
w
police have removed them for failing to comply with cit
y
council regulations. EPA/Kai Försterling
Can e-scooters solve the 'last mile' problem? They'll need to avoid the f... https://theconversation.com/can-e-scooters-solve-the-last-mile-problem...
4 of 4 24/09/2018, 10:51 a
m
... Closely related, technologies such as ride-hailing, micromobility (e.g. e-scooters and bike-sharing) and Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) are emerging and improving the appeal of public transit by solving the first mile problem of traveling from home to a public transit node and the last mile problem of travelling from a public transit node to the workplace or destination without requiring a private automobile or long walk (Sipe & Pojani 2018). Lastly, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is emerging that can route and coordinate complex journeys (e.g. ...
... Further, private automobiles appear to be losing appeal throughout OECD countries where young adults are waiting longer to purchase and start driving (Goodwin & Van Dender 2013). Abreast of this social trend, emerging technologies such as ride-hailing, ride sharing, and micromobility are solving the last mile problem of public transport, and services such as MaaS are reducing the transaction costs of routing, scheduling, reserving, and paying for public transport (Sipe & Pojani 2018). Finally, the decision regarding which old patterns of urban mobility should be carried forward is becoming urgent with autonomous vehicles starting to emerge. ...
Article
Full-text available
Together, globalisation and urbanisation are accelerating the densification of cities while disruptive technologies such as micro-mobility and ride-hailing are transforming urban mobility. Amidst this change, urban planning officials and practitioners typically remain constrained to the same urban footprint, left to grapple with earlier car-oriented development, and yet must accommodate a growing population and variety of travel modes operating within the same space. Further, they must operate alongside government officials whose re-election could depend upon appeasing suburban residents that are unable or unwilling to relocate along active transport corridors, near public transit nodes, or forgo the flexibility and comfort of private automobiles. As a result, private automobiles can become necessary for traversing urban forms already enlarged by parking, driveways, roads, highways, and flyovers. Likewise, alternatives such as public and active transport can become impractical and dangerous within urban forms that are fragmented by congestion or fast traffic. Given that urban mobility research typically focuses on keeping our pre-existing modal choices moving rather than the side-effects, daily commutes have remained unchanged for decades, and planners are better equipped to continually accommodate rather than influence our modal choices. This volume of Progress in Planning aims to strengthen the evidence base for influencing modal choice by developing a comparative framework of urban mobility, and by examining how parking policy has influenced modal choice within the three largest Australian cities: Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. In addition, it provides reproducible methods for estimating parking supply using land use audits, parking demand using a population census, and geo-statistical modelling for determining whether and where parking policy can explain more sustainable modal choices. As such, this volume sets a research agenda for metropolitan-scale examination and coordination of transport and land use planning for sustainable rather than temporary urban mobility.
... Patients with C-spine 1 (2) Patients with CXR 2 (4) ...
... Patients with L-spine X-ray 1 (2) ED disposition Trivedi et al. 9 in the USA, our study showed similar overall use of imaging (72% vs 80%), and less CT head utilisation (7% vs 30%) which may reflect regional practice variation and availability of CT or a lower severity of illness in our setting. Prior radiology study at Auckland City Hospital 12 show higher acuity and admissions in comparison to our study. ...
Article
Objective: We aimed to describe the impact on the single ED serving Dunedin, New Zealand, following the introduction of an electric-scooter (e-scooter) sharing service. Methods: A retrospective cohort study comparing the number of vehicle related injuries during identical 6-week periods in 2018 and 2019 was performed. A descriptive analysis of the subset of e-scooter related presentations was undertaken. Results: A total of 172 and 228 vehicle related injury presentations were identified in samples from 2018 and 2019, respectively. During the 2018 study period zero e-scooter related ED presentations were identified. In 2019 there were 56 e-scooter related ED presentations (P-value <0.001) representing 54 events. There were 52 car, 21 motorbike and 62 bicycle related presentations during the same 2019 time period. Further descriptive analysis showed the majority of e-scooter presentations were for minor injury. Fractures or dislocations were found in 17 (32%) patients and 14 (26%) patients sustained a head injury, one of which was severe. Isolated minor musculoskeletal injuries were seen in 25 (46%) patients. On average one ED bed was occupied by an e-scooter patient for 2 h and 44 min each day during the 6-week study period in 2019. Conclusion: The introduction of an e-scooter sharing service resulted in a new injury hazard. Our study presents the number of e-scooter related ED presentations relative to other vehicles related injury visits and describes the injury patterns associated with e-scooter use which may inform future public policy.
... The rate for these shared e-scooter services is AUD$1 to unlock and 30 to 45 cents per minute for casual users with discounted daily, weekly, and monthly passes available for regular users. Micromobility advocates claim that e-scooters will shift short-distance travellers away from cars-if they can avoid the usual complaints around speed, littering and safety (Sipe and Pojani 2018;Field and Jon 2021). ...
Article
Full-text available
Weather, climate, and daily human mobility patterns are inextricably linked, and so quantifying and examining these patterns is essential for smarter urban policy and design that are tailored to support our daily mobility needs and foreground urban sustainability. This study provides an empirical approach to better understanding the interface between weather, climate, and daily human mobility on >800,000 shared e-Scooter trips across subtropical Brisbane, Australia. We find that the number of eScooter trips increases with heat and declines with rain. However, results reveal that the ‘connectivities’ between land use types remain stable irrespective of weather conditions while trip distance contracts during inclement weather. As such, weather influences the appeal and distance of eScooter trips but seemingly not trip purpose.
... e-Scooters are frequently used for both commuting and recreational purposes [6]. For local governments, e-scooters represent a new form of transportation that can help bridge the "last mile" gap, a common obstacle for transit use, by connecting people with public transit nodes [9,22,24,25]. e-Scooters are also seen as an environmentally friendly means for reducing traffic congestion in urban areas [26,27]. Moreover, e-scooter programs may be appealing to local officials because government funds are not usually required to start or maintain them; rather, e-scooter companies pay fees that allow government agencies to make infrastructure improvements for e-scooter riders [14]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Electric scooters (e-scooters) are an increasingly popular form of transportation in urban areas. While research on this topic has focused primarily on injuries, there are multiple mechanisms by which e-scooter share programs may impact health. The aim of this study is to explore the health-related behaviors of e-scooter users and to discuss their implications for public health. Data were collected using an online survey emailed to registered e-scooter users. A total of 1070 users completed the survey. Descriptive variable statistics and chi-squared analysis were performed to determine variable dependent relationships and equality of proportions. The most common destinations reported were “just riding around for fun”, home, and dining/shopping. The two most common modes of transportation that would have been used if e-scooters were not available were walking (43.5%) and using a personal vehicle (28.5%). Riding behavior was equally mixed between on the street, on the sidewalk, and equal amounts of both. e-Scooters in Provo are likely having both positive (e.g., air pollution) and negative impacts on health (e.g., injuries, physical inactivity). Future research should further explore patterns of e-scooter use and explicitly examine the linkages between e-scooters and areas of health beyond just injuries.
... Scooters are also easier than bicycles to maneuver along narrow paths. In some places, e-scooters are still not subject to helmet requirements (Sipe and Pojani, 2018b). Subcontractors such as Lime's "Lime Juicers" recharge and redistribute flat e-scooters during the night. ...
... Dockless shared e-scooters are touted as a solution to the last-mile problem, a means to reduce traffic congestion, and an environmentally preferable mode of transportation [1,2]. While these e-scooters have no tailpipe emissions, full consideration of the life cycle impacts is required to properly understand their environmental impacts. ...
Article
Full-text available
Shared stand-up electric scooters are now offered in many cities as an option for short-term rental, and marketed for short-distance travel. Using life cycle assessment, we quantify the total environmental impacts of this mobility option associated with global warming, acidification, eutrophication, and respiratory impacts. We find that environmental burdens associated with charging the e-scooter are small relative to materials and manufacturing burdens of the e-scooters and the impacts associated with transporting the scooters to overnight charging stations. The results of a Monte Carlo analysis show an average value of life cycle global warming impacts of 202 g CO2-eq/passenger-mile, driven by materials and manufacturing (50%), followed by daily collection for charging (43% of impact). We illustrate the potential to reduce life cycle global warming impacts through improved scooter collection and charging approaches, including the use of fuel-efficient vehicles for collection (yielding 177 g CO2-eq/passenger-mile), limiting scooter collection to those with a low battery state of charge (164 g CO2-eq/passenger-mile), and reducing the driving distance per scooter for e-scooter collection and distribution (147 g CO2-eq/passenger-mile). The results prove to be highly sensitive to e-scooter lifetime; ensuring that the shared e-scooters are used for two years decreases the average life cycle emissions to 141 g CO2-eq/passenger-mile. Under our Base Case assumptions, we find that the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with e-scooter use is higher in 65% of our Monte Carlo simulations than the suite of modes of transportation that are displaced. This likelihood drops to 35%-50% under our improved and efficient e-scooter collection processes and only 4% when we assume two-year e-scooter lifetimes. When e-scooter usage replaces average personal automobile travel, we nearly universally realize a net reduction in environmental impacts.
Article
This study aims to analyze electric scooter (e-scooter) markets in transit deserts and oases in the U.S. The four cities of Austin, Chicago, Portland, and Minneapolis were selected as case studies to determine the prevalence of e-scooter rides as related to locations with limited public transportation options. A t-test was performed to analyze the difference in the number of e-scooter rides between the transit deserts and transit oases. Overall, the arithmetic means of the e-scooter rides between the transit deserts and transit oases were not significantly different in Austin, Chicago, and Portland. The results confirm that the transit index score was among the top three predictors of trips in Austin, Minneapolis, and Portland. In Chicago, health-related characteristics such as crude prevalence of arthritis, diabetes, and obesity were found to be the most important predictors of trips in Chicago.
Chapter
Electric scooters (e-scooters) have been considered as a “last mile” solution to existing public transportation systems in many cities all over the world due to their convenience at a highly affordable price. E-scooters enable users to travel distances which are too long to walk but too short to drive, so they help to reduce the number of cars on the roads. Along with its increasing popularity, accidents involving e-scooters have become a growing public concern, especially in large cities with heavy traffic. It is useful to detect and include e-scooters in traffic control. However, there is no available pre-built-model for detecting an electric scooter. Therefore, in this paper, we proposed a scooter and its rider detection framework that supports emergency management for scooter-related injuries. The framework helps to identify scooter and its rider in live-stream videos and can be applied in traffic incidents detection applications. Our model was developed based on deep learning object detection models. Using ImageAI API, we trained and deployed our own model based on 200 images acquired on the internet. The preliminary results appeared to be robust and fast; however, the accuracy of our proposed model could be improved if using a larger dataset for training and evaluating.
Article
Background: Since the late 19th century, city planners have struggled to cope with new types of urban transport and mobility that threatened the existing system, or even rendered it obsolete. Purpose: As city planners confront the range of disruptive urban mobilities currently on the horizon, this paper explores how we can draw on a vast body of evidence to anticipate and avoid unintended consequences to people's health and wellbeing. Methods: This commentary involved a rapid review of the literature on transport disruption. Results: We found that to avoid the unintended consequences of disruption, research, policy and practice must think beyond single issues (such as the risk of chronic disease, injury, or traffic management) and consider the broader consequences of interventions. For example, although autonomous vehicles will probably reduce road trauma, what will be the negative consequences for physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, chronic disease, land use, traffic congestion and commuting patterns? Research is needed that considers and informs how to mitigate the range of potential harms caused by disruptive mobilities. Conclusion: In the face of new disruptive mobilities, we must: (a) draw on existing evidence to shape new regulations that address the 'who, when and where' rules of introducing new mobilities (such as electric assisted bicycles (e-bikes) and scooters (e-scooters)) of which the health repercussions can be easily anticipated; (b) monitor and evaluate the implementation of any interventions through natural experiment studies; and (c) use innovative research methods (such as agent-based simulation and health-impact-assessment modelling) to assess the likely effects of emerging disruptive mobilities (e.g., autonomous vehicles) on health and wellbeing and on the environment.
Article
Full-text available
From the time of their introduction in Paris and other French cities in the summer of 2018, free-floating electric scooters have quickly grown in popularity and numbers, creating a conundrum for Paris and other municipalities over their regulation. This study aims to explore the representation, in French mainstream newspapers with contrasting ideological viewpoints, of free floating e-scooters, their users and operators, as well as public authorities’ response to the problems they caused. Articles from Le Figaro and Le Monde newspapers were collected between June 2018 and September 2019, generating a dataset of 107 articles and 741 occurrences of appraisal. The analysis highlights a very negative view of e-scooters, most particularly over safety issues and their use of public space. Articles from Le Figaro were also harshly critical of the ways in which public authorities struggled to regulate this new means of transport.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.