Micromobility usage is on the rise nationally and in Florida. The FDOT District Two’s Community Traffic Safety Program examined what Micromobility currently looks like in Northeast Florida. In this presentation, we will discuss what micromobility is—and isn’t. We will look at the increased popularity of micromobility nationally and its use in Northeast Florida and consider some of the safety challenges associated with the increased use of micromobility devices while keeping in mind the goal of ZERO fatalities on our roadways.
Watch the Micromobility video presentation:
How micromobility is defined is important because the functional and legal definitions determine the rights and responsibilities of micromobility device users operating on public streets and, accordingly, how law enforcement, public safety educators, and transportation planners and engineers can work to help improve safety outcomes.
From an industry perspective, they must be:
- fully or partially electrically powered.
- lightweight, under 500 pounds.
- relatively low-speed—under 30 miles per hour.
Examples include powered bicycles, also known as “E-bikes,” standing scooters, seated scooters, self-balancing boards like “Segways” and some “Hoverboards,” non-self-balancing boards, powered skates, and a range of other similar devices.
We highlight Florida Statutes and how micromobility is defined in Florida law. We discuss local regulation and Florida’s “Home Rule” principle. As a result, local governments can prohibit use on trails and sidewalks and regulate “for-hire” devices up to and including prohibition.
Flip through the presentation slides:
In five years, from 2016 to 2019, the use of shared, for-hire devices has increased more than seven-fold. Use accelerates as fleets of scooters and e-bikes are deployed in more cities.
While electric devices differ from “Active Transportation” modes like walking and pedaling a bike, the safety and infrastructure focus are similar. Micromobility devices are treated the same as traditional bicycles from a legal perspective because they generally have similar speed, maneuverability, and weight. Accordingly, strategies to enhance bicyclist safety, as well as strategies to make streets safer for pedestrians, will generally benefit micromobility users as well.
The infrastructure options to make micromobilty safe and effective are similar to those for cycling —namely, lower-stress facilities. Accordingly, networks that include low-stress facilities such as protected bike lanes, shared-use paths, bike boulevards, and cycle tracks will be more appealing to and improve the safety outcomes of a broader group of conventional bicycle and micromobility users.
Shared micromobility services are not currently as common in Northeast Florida as in other parts of the state. To date, three communities have active contracts with micromobility providers.
Safety challenges are similar to bicycles. However, an E-bike or powered scooter can attain relatively high speeds faster and with little effort. Lack of experience is another critical factor.
Safety strategies include applying bicycle and pedestrian countermeasures. These include pedestrian safe crossings, low-stress bike infrastructure, and encouraging the use of helmets and safety equipment.
Our Community Traffic Safety Team members play an essential role in developing and implementing strategies to address these safety challenges. This includes working with local governments to include best-practice provisions in micromobility vendor contracts concerning geofencing and management of the public right-of-way; planning, designing, and construction of low-stress bicycle infrastructure to provide for overall mobility advantages; and working with businesses, chambers of commerce, and local law enforcement to provide educational material to tourists and other potentially inexperienced micromobility users.
Micromobility news and resources:
- GHSA October 2022 News Release, As E-Scooter Usage Booms, New Report Identifies Deficiencies Impacting Rider Safety
- Transportation Research Board research report, E-scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions
- GHSA report, Understanding and Tackling Micromobility: Transportation’s New Disruptor
“E-scooters, which were a novelty just a few years ago, are here to stay. Everyone deserves to feel safe on the road, and we must do more to prioritize safety for this growing mode of travel.”GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins