For Tiny Vehicles, Safety Comes With Numbers

Motorists tend to look out for hazards they expect. If tiny vehicles proliferate, including electric scooters, greater safety will follow.

October 11, 2018, 12:00 PM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


DJSinop / Shutterstock

"Two decades ago," Peter Jacobsen and Joel Jacobsen writes, "the very idea of sharing vehicles with strangers would have struck most Americans as odd, even outlandish. Twelve years had to pass after Zipcar was founded in 2000 before even 3% of Americans had tried driving a shared car." Now, as electric scooters become a more and more common sight, drivers may have to get used to navigating the roads with them (not to mention bikes and pedestrians).

With greater numbers comes safety. "Strong empirical evidence suggests that the best thing we can do to ensure the safety of scooter riders is to increase their number. We have no shortage of data about pedestrians and bicyclists, and there's every reason to expect the experience of tiny urban vehicles will follow the pattern."

A psychological "low prevalence effect" underlies that principle. Namely, we tend to devote mental resources to common hazards, and discount rare ones. In places where more people are walking, biking, or scooting, vehicle collisions tend to happen less frequently and are less serious.

In another piece for The Boston Globe, Amy Crawford writes that "if cities and scooters are really going to get along, it will take more than just new regulations — it will take new infrastructure. Sarah Kaufman, associate director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University, argues for expanding cities' networks of bicycle lanes, which she says should be reimagined as pathways for any small, low-speed vehicle, including those we have yet to imagine."

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 in Streetsblog USA

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

University of Arizona

Proposed Transit Line Would Connect Downtown Tucson to Airport

Based on community input for a 15-mile transit line, residents want to see a focus on affordable housing development and anti-displacement measures.

4 hours ago - KGUN

Shuttered strip mall in Niland, California

Strip Malls as a Housing Solution

The American strip mall may be a dying breed of commercial development, but could the buildings serve a new use as sustainable housing?

6 hours ago - Yale Environment 360

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

May 20 - Vancouver Sun

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.