The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-10 [Active]

E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions

  Project Data
Funds: $490,000
Staff Responsibility: William C. Rogers
Research Agency: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Principal Investigator: Laura Sandt
Effective Date: 6/5/2020
Completion Date: 12/5/2022
Comments: Research underway


Since their introduction in the United States in 2017, the use of electric scooters (e-scooters) has expanded to the streets and sidewalks of more than 100 cities, and all indicators point to continued growth.  E-scooters offer many potential benefits, including reduced air pollution in comparison to competing forms of transportation, first and last mile connections to public transit, increased mobility options, and new revenue sources for cities.  Recently, however, there has been a growing concern with injuries associated with e-scooter use (https://www.consumerreports.org/product-safety/national-crash-data-from-e-scooter-ride-share-companies-revealed-for-first-time/). Most of the e-scooter injuries were head injuries from falls and did not involve a motor vehicle; hence, it is difficult to track e-scooter crashes through traffic crash reports.  Nevertheless, the emergency room data clearly show that a major contribution to injuries is a lack of helmet use and novice rider overrepresentation, including a significant subset of injuries to patients younger than 18 years.  As e-scooters proliferate, there is the potential to add risk to other vulnerable road users such as pedestrians (particularly the sight impaired and elderly) and wheel chair users, especially if e-scooters are allowed to operate on sidewalks.
Research on e-scooters is needed for state and local agencies, and industry partners, to help manage safety risks more effectively and efficiently. Knowing when and where risky behaviors may occur could inform injury prevention approaches, including education, training, enforcement, policy, and changes to the built environment.

The objective of this research is to identify emerging behavioral safety issues arising from the expanding use of e-scooters, both rental and privately owned, and develop comprehensive guidance to help affected agencies plan for and mitigate related safety problems. The guidance should include tools, policy alternatives, educational materials, institutional requirements, and other relevant techniques to mitigate if not eliminate identified risks. 
The BTSCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
The research plan should delineate the tasks required to develop safety mitigation guidance and the tools necessary to accomplish the research objective. At a minimum, the tasks should address the following:
  • Describe e-scooter components and their operational domains, characteristics and performance capabilities, and safety risks;
  • Review national and international experience with e-scooters and e-scooter safety programs;
  • Describe who is riding, how much, and for what purposes;
  • Describe who is being injured, the extent of the injuries, and the primary causes;
  • Analyze risks of various speeds, both motor vehicle and e-scooter, on e-scooter safety;
  • Analyze data availability, quality, consistency, and gaps;
  • Identify and analyze future projections of e-scooter technical components in terms of future operational characteristics,  and how these potential changes might impact roadway and sidewalk users;
  • Annotate practices in U.S. cities and towns (e.g., injury reporting, geo-fencing, enforcement, permitting, regulation), and survey agency staff in selected cities and towns and develop case studies describing experience with growing use of e-scooters;
  • Annotate E-scooter manufacturer and rental operator company practices (e.g., pricing, education, user validation, helmet use incentives, safety monitoring, data sharing) and their implications; and
  • Develop targeted safe behavior messages, educational materials, and outreach programs to mitigate identified risks.
A kick-off teleconference of the research team and BTSCRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution. The work plan proposed must be divided into two phases as determined by the proposer. Each phase must be organized by task, with each task described in detail. Phase I will consist of information gathering, culminating in the submission of an interim report describing the work completed in the Phase I tasks along with a refined scope of work for Phase II based on the research findings. An interim meeting will be held with BTSCRP to discuss the results of the Phase I tasks, an agenda and proposed invitees for a 1.5-day workshop in Phase II of the project. The workshop will be designed to work with selected practitioners using case study examples to demonstrate the guidance and tools and obtain feedback from practitioners, and the updated work plan for the Phase II tasks. Work on Phase II will not begin until approved by BTSCRP.
Phase II shall consist of the BTSCRP-approved Phase II work plan, the workshop to demonstrate the guidance and tools and obtain feedback from practitioners, and the development of the final deliverables.
Note:   The costs for the workshop, including invitational travel for 30 participants, shall be included in the detailed budget for the research. BTSCRP will cover costs associated with hosting of the workshop, as well as the costs of travel for BTSCRP panel members. For budgeting purposes, proposers should assume that the workshop will be held in Washington, DC.
The final deliverables shall include (1) guidance, tools, policy options, and educational materials to mitigate identified risks arising from the expanding use of e-scooters, both rental and privately owned; (2) a final report documenting the entire project and incorporating all other specified deliverable products of the research; (3) an electronic presentation of the guidance and tools that can be tailored for specific audiences; (4) recommendations for additional research; and (5) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note B for additional information).
Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for BTSCRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.
A. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
B. The BTSCRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of BTSCRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state highway safety offices and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project.
C. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the BTSCRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.
D. Proposals are evaluated by the BTSCRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal. 
E. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.
F. Resumes for proposed key staff should be limited to 3 pages for each. The research approach shall be limited to 25 pages. This does not include the detailed budget or the detail schedule.

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=4793