A new study into e-scooter use has found that a majority of women feel unsafe on the roads due to poor infrastructure.
Micromobility firm Voi and non-profit organisation Women in Transport joined forces to survey hundreds of e-scooter riders, to determine the gender-based perceptions in their use.
The in-depth research found that 79% of women felt unsafe during e-scooter rides because of a lack of appropriate infrastructure.
Voi and Women in Transport also found that 83% of participants in the survey said that the attitude of drivers towards e-scooters was a barrier to using them as a mode of transport.
Jo Field, president of Women in Transport, said: “The gender gap in shared e-scooter use deserves considerable attention from the micromobility sector, and anyone else concerned with gender equity in transport and the urban realm.
“We are delighted to have partnered with Voi on this research, and to have helped develop a robust set of recommendations to move the sector forward.
“We urge policy makers and e-scooter operators to closely consider the findings and, crucially, take action based on the recommendations.”
The research consisted of five research groups, conducted in autumn 2021 with 30 women of different levels of e-scooter experience, and a survey in early 2022 of 499 women.
Results were presented to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Transport on Monday (16th May).
As part of the report, the researchers also made a number of recommendations on how to improve the perception and safety around e-scooter riding for women:
- 79% of all respondents said that not feeling safe due to infrastructure was a barrier to (further) riding. Recommendation: Local and national governments should place the development of infrastructure and reallocation of road-space in our cities at the heart of their mobility frameworks, and at the top of their wider transport, environmental and public health agendas.
- 83% of survey respondents (strongly) agreed that drivers’ and other road users’ attitudes towards e-scooter riders was a barrier to (further) using shared e-scooters. Recommendation: Local authorities should provide clear, positive communications about the status of shared e-scooters in their regions.
- 90% of overall survey respondents agreed (strongly) that they were confident riding a scooter in the day-time, but only 64% at night-time. Recommendation: Local authorities and e-scooter operators should collaborate to ensure local environments and cultures support night-time safety for women, for example, ensuring public spaces are sufficiently lit, and providing bystander awareness and education to help prevent violence and harassment of women and girls.
- 83% of respondents think docking locations can be a barrier to riding if not located in safe and useful areas. Recommendation: Local authorities and e-scooter operators should collaborate to ensure women’s transport needs and experiences inform the development of e-scooter regulation and services in specific areas, particularly the location of parking docks and development of infrastructure.
- While 99% of regular riders understand the difference between private and shared scooters, 59% of non-riders said understanding of laws and regulations surrounding e-scooters was a barrier to riding shared e-scooters. Recommendation: Government(s) should provide clarity and certainty over laws around both shared and private e-scooters.
Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology said: “Our overall mission is to create safe, sustainable and reliable micromobility for everyone, and we are committed to taking women’s needs seriously. We are delighted to have worked with Women in Transport and the Gender Equity Commission, and excited to be acting upon their findings and recommendations.
“By collaborating closely with cities and governments, we can ensure that measures to address barriers that women may have in enjoying e-scooters, and feeling safe in doing so, will continue to be addressed, in particular with our new Gender Safe Parking Standard.”
Jack Samler, general manager at Voi UK and Ireland, said: “In the UK we were the first micromobility operator to sign the Mayor of London’s Women’s Night Safety Charter and we have collaborated with the British Transport Police who worked with Voi employees on issues pertaining to women’s safety at night when travelling.
“Moving forward, we will continue to support the overall company commitment to pilot night-time safety events and the Gender Safe Parking Standard in the UK.”
Voi, a shared micromobility operator that runs scooter schemes across Europe, including in Bath, Bristol and Liverpool, has committed to taking a number of steps to address the challenges, including hosting night-time safety events, improving parking locations, and publishing rider figures.