What Bolt’s scooter safety data can teach us about safe road infrastructure

July 20, 2022

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Shared scooters are one of the newest urban transportation options. 

As such, there are natural questions about how these micromobility vehicles impact the safety of riders and other road users globally.

Improving scooter safety transparency 

Safety-related research on shared scooters is developing but is still not as mature as for other transport modes such as bicycles and motor vehicles. 

As a step toward greater transparency and understanding, Bolt recently published its 2022 scooter safety report, the first Bolt Safety Lab publication.

By analysing Bolt’s safety data, and the growing body of independent research, the Safety Lab aims to deepen the understanding of scooter safety and engage with cities on evidence-based ways to advance safe micromobility solutions.

Here, we examine Bolt’s data and external research to reveal the most common types of scooter collisions and analyse what this means for cities looking to adopt safe micromobility for their citizens. 

The data discussed in this piece covers collisions between Bolt scooters and third parties — and excludes single-vehicle accidents.

2021 Bolt scooter collision data

An important safety metric is the rate at which collisions occur between scooters and other road users such as motor vehicles and pedestrians. This can indicate which areas of the road pose elevated safety risks.

Based on our analysis of all Bolt scooter collisions with third parties in 2021, we found that 65% involved a motor vehicle, 23% involved a pedestrian, and 12% involved a cyclist.

Similarly, when looking more narrowly at the collisions resulting in an injury requiring professional medical attention, 50% of those cases involved a motor vehicle, 30% involved a pedestrian, and 20% involved a cyclist.

Independent research on scooter safety 

Irrespective of who was at fault in these incidents, both metrics indicate that the greatest safety risk related to scooters is not on pavements where scooters share space with pedestrians. It’s on roads where they share space with motor vehicles.

There’s a body of independent research to support this finding:

  • One recent study demonstrates that the largest proportion of scooter-related injuries in the U.S. involves motor vehicles and that these collisions are the most likely to result in an injury requiring hospitalisation.
  • Research from the U.K. shows that roughly 65% of scooter-related injuries happen on roads rather than pavements.
  • A major report by the International Transport Forum (ITF), titled “Safe Micromobility”, found that the most serious accidents involving scooters – those resulting in fatalities – involve motor vehicles 80% of the time.

Although the dangers pedestrians face shouldn’t be ignored, the data suggests that motor vehicles pose a more significant threat to the safety of scooter riders than scooters do to pedestrians. 

While this conclusion should be further validated as more scooter safety data become available, there is strong evidence that this should be an important public policy consideration for cities interested in adopting shared micromobility.

Updating urban road infrastructure to meet changing needs

What city policymakers can do

This evidence demonstrates that requiring scooter riders to use roads where they share space with cars may raise the overall road safety risk — rather than reduce it. 

Instead, there’s a clear need to establish safe road infrastructure that better accommodates the growing number of micromobility vehicles on the road. 

To do so, urban policymakers should consider allowing scooters to use existing bike lanes and prioritise the establishment of such lanes. This would minimise areas where micromobility vehicles are required to share space with either pedestrians or motor vehicles — leading to improved safety for all road users.

It would also help to uphold the safety commitments made in 2021 by numerous European cities — alongside Bolt and several other mobility providers — in “The New Paradigm for Safe City Streets.”

The impact of protected lanes on vulnerable road users 

The concept of protected bike lanes is not new, but it can significantly impact overall road safety. 

For example, a 2020 study in London found that various types of protected lanes could reduce bike injuries by between 40–65%. Meanwhile, in New York City, the introduction of bike lanes was associated with a 22% reduction in pedestrian injuries.

Considering these impacts, it’s unsurprising that the ITF report highlights the need for protected micromobility infrastructure as a critical priority for cities. The COVID-19 pandemic created an opportunity here, as European cities added hundreds of kilometres of new cycling lanes that can also accommodate scooters. 

Even as urban activity rebounds, cities should ensure that these new safe spaces for micromobility aren’t lost.

Bolt’s contribution 

At Bolt, we’re collaborating with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and the Norwegian ​​Institute of Transport Economics to use scooter data to map dangerous traffic hotspots in cities and enable policymakers to take action. 

We’re committed to pursuing such opportunities in partnership with cities so that our data and insights can support safer transportation ecosystems in the cities we operate.

In addition, we’re also continually refining our safety data to build a more detailed understanding of scooter safety risks and develop new products and strategies to mitigate the highest-priority risks.

Learn more 

For more information on road safety data and infrastructure, please get in touch with us via safetylab@bolt.eu 

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