Integrating e-scooters in urban transportation: Problems, policies, and the prospect of system change
Throughout the world, cities seek to ease transport-related problems of congestion, air pollution, noise, and traffic injuries. Urban transport planners have welcomed e-scooters as an alternative to motorized individual transport, specifically the car. The public has met e-scooters with both enthusiasm and scepticism, as cities have struggled with unforeseen outcomes such as forms of irresponsible riding, cluttering, or vandalism. This paper investigates the challenges associated with the introduction of e-scooters in ten major cities, based on a content analysis of local media reports. News items (n = 173) were identified through Internet searches and include print media, TV and radio websites. Concerns prior to and after the introduction of e-scooters are assessed, analysed, and interpreted in the context of new policies for this transport mode. Results suggest that many cities have moved through trial and error stages in their search for appropriate legislation. The paper concludes that it is prudent for urban planners to introduce policies regarding maximum speeds, mandatory use of bicycle infrastructure, and dedicated parking, as well as to limit the number of licensed operators. Where negative public opinion can be averted, e-scooters stand a chance to become a disruptive niche innovation with the potential to transform urban transport systems.