June 9, 2021

The buzz round our house lately has been the continued success of the OmaHogs.  The Arkansas Men’s baseball team won the conference, conference tournament, and now the Fayetteville Regional.  They will host the Super Regional and then hopefully back to Omaha for their third straight appearance (2020 was canceled).   If you were lucky enough to be in Fayetteville over the weekend, you probably saw someone on an e-scooter.  A year and a half after Fayetteville’s e-scooter program launched in November 2019, the two-wheelers are proving a popular way to make quick trips around the city.

Two different companies supply Fayetteville’s e-scooter corps, Veo and Spin.  Each have 500 e-scooters in the city with every scooter averaging one ride per day.  As of May 10, an ongoing Fayetteville community survey shows that nearly 60% of respondents are either “happy” or “very happy” with the program, and more than 67% would recommend visitors use e-scooters to explore Fayetteville.  The reason micro-mobility programs like e-scooters and bike share are so popular is their potential to reduce car trips, traffic, parking needs and carbon emissions.  Fayetteville has several price options for riders, ranging from monthly memberships ($17) to pay as you go options (unlock and minute charges averaging under $3 per ride). This provides the mobility demanded and avoids the hassle of parking.

The downside for both bike share and e-scooter programs comes when the devices are not used responsibly, putting pedestrians, other cyclists, and users at risk.  The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) says there were 18 shared scooter fatalities in the US in 2019.  There were 136 million shared micro-mobility trips on scooters and bikes during the year, up 60% from 2018.  A study conducted by Henry Ford Health System shows that nearly 28% of scooter accidents in the US result in head and neck injuries.  Dane Eifling, Fayetteville’s mobility coordinator, said there have been no fatalities or severe injury crashes reported through the city’s shared bikes or e-scooter programs.

Thoughts:  Micro-mobility is more common in countries where traffic is crowded, and cars are expensive to buy and maintain.  Typical trips on shared e-scooters and bikes in the US are around 12 minutes and usually range from 1 mile to 1.5 miles.  According to Fayetteville’s survey, 14% of respondents would have skipped a trip if not for an e-scooter.  While most folks ride responsibly, there are always those who do not, and there are accidents involving e-scooters.  Research has shown most activities would be safer if not for human error.  That is true as well with driverless cars.  The problem comes when human drivers act irresponsibly and defy traffic laws.  AI has yet to learn to compensate for “stupid.”  I admit, I struggle with this as well.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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