I wrote recently that CleanTechnica would be a bit more focused on micromobility matters. We’re not the only ones. In fact, US automaker Ford has also been getting more serious about micromobility. Among other things, it owns Spin, an e-scooter company, and via Spin, it has just announced a £100,000 fund for independent UK research about micromobility policy. It is called the Micromobility Research Fund.
The fund will actually support micromobility researchers in the US as well as the UK. It is supporting researchers at 10 universities as well as a number of organizations (aka organisations).
“They will study various safety aspects of e-scooter use as well as rider travel behaviour and the challenges and opportunities of the integration of e-scooters within a city’s road systems and existing public transport networks.”
Josh Johnson, Public Policy Manager at Spin, actually highlights that micromobility companies have not done a good job of engaging policy makers, conducting such research, and communicating it back to the public.
“The willingness to share independent research and learnings about the adoption of e-scooters with key stakeholders has become less of a priority for operators and this needs to change. Spin is committed to improving and advancing micromobility policy frameworks globally in the markets we operate in. These studies will give everyone fresh and actionable insights. We look forward to sharing best practices with stakeholders in the UK and beyond around how to best integrate e-scooters into local transport networks while maximising safety of all road users and provide communities with a green, fun and socially-distanced way to travel,” said Johnson.
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Some of the types of things researchers will be exploring are what kind of infrastructure e-scooter riders tend to ride on and why, the frequency of safety incidents and commonly linked factors, factors (including weather conditions) that influence both safety and perceptions of safety. A study in Milton Keynes is already studying these matters. “The study will be informed by a diverse set of data sources including qualitative and quantitative consumer survey data and on-street AI and IoT sensor data of e-scooter interactions with pedestrians, cyclists and cars captured by Vivacity Lab’s sensors that are installed in the city. The researchers will have access to anonymised e-scooter movement data (GPS) as well.
“Vivacity’s roadside sensors employ machine learning algorithms to detect near-miss incidents and are able to analyse movement patterns of vulnerable road-users such as cyclists and pedestrians, as well as non-connected vehicles. Such data will be invaluable to assess why near-misses may happen and what could be possibly done to minimise them.”
Some potential results of this study could include:
- identifying ways government agencies and e-scooter companies could help inform e-scooter users of safe practices and concerns to watch out for
- maps indicating preferred and safer routes for e-scooter users
- infrastructure recommendations
- policy recommendations.
Other studies will loo into questions such as these (provided by Ford/Spin):
- What factors influence people’s willingness to try e-scooters for the first time and then to become a regular user?
- How do people integrate their e-scooter rides into a multi-modal journey, if at all? What travel modes are people shifting from, if any, when they choose to ride a scooter?
- Outcomes and relevant factors which influence safe use of e-scooters
- What insights can be derived from demographic data and its relation to frequency of use?
- How do e-scooter demo days affect the general public’s acceptance of this new means of transport?
- In times when participating in physical events are limited, do digital learning materials and virtual safety training events have similar effects as joining in-person riding test tracks?
- How can e-scooters be made more appealing to a more diverse population?
The researchers and organizations that will benefit from the new initiative are as follows:
- Rachel Aldred, Professor of Transport and Director of the University’s Active Travel Academy, University of Westminster
- Elisabetta Cherchi, Professor of Transport, University of Newcastle
- Jonas De Vos, Assistant Professor (lecturer) of Transport Planning, University College London
- Susan Grant-Muller, Chair in Technology and Informatics, University of Leeds
- Robin Hickman, Professor of Transport and City Planning, University College London
- Dr. Zia Wadud, Associate Professor in Transport and Energy Interactions, University of Leeds
- Roger Woodman, Assistant Professor of Human Factors, University of Warwick
- Ralph Buehler, Program Chair and Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP), Virginia Tech
- Chris Cherry, Associate Department Head of Undergraduate Studies and Professor for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
- John MacArthur, Sustainable Transportation Program Manager, TREC Portland State University
- Angela Sanguinetti, Research Environmental Psychologist at Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California-Davis
- Center for Transportation Studies (multiple researchers), University of Minnesota
** Organisations in the mobility ecosystem
- Silviya Barrett, Head of Policy, Research and Projects, Campaign for Better Transport
- Andrea Broaddus, Senior Research Scientist, Ford Motor Company
- Sebastian Castellanos, Research Program League, NUMO
- Brooks Rainwater, Senior Executive & Director for Center for City Solution, National League of Cities
- Stephanie Seki, Mobility Partnerships Manager, Populus