Education & municipal involvement is key to the success of micromobility integration in Canadian communities

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Ottawa, ON August 30, 2022 – (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) has released, Road Safety Monitor 2021: Micromobility in Canada, with sponsorship from Beer Canada and Desjardins and with support from Neuron Canada. This is the first year TIRF included questions related to micromobility and the use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) in its annual Road Safety Monitor (RSM) survey. This fact sheet summarizes evidence from previously published studies and incorporates data from TIRF’s RSM poll. The benefits associated with the use of micromobility options are described along with specific risks related to riding location, time of day, distraction, and helmet use.

In several Canadian jurisdictions, PMDs, notably e-scooters, have become a regular sight on roads and sidewalks in the past few years. Cities have allowed e-scooter sharing services to operate, in accordance with regulations, some even through pilot programs intended to gather data to inform transportation and infrastructure planning. E-scooter sharing services can offer access to a convenient, inexpensive, and physically distanced transportation choice. It can also increase connectivity between people and public transit and create a fun experience reminiscent of childhood. It reduces dependence on traditional motor vehicles, particularly for short trips to local shops, commutes to work and social outings.

“A paramount concern is that micromobility can also produce harm,” shares Ward Vanlaar, TIRF Chief Operating Officer. “E-scooter injuries requiring medical attention usually affect the upper and lower extremities, as well as the head and face, and commonly include soft tissue injuries, fractures, and dental injuries. The loss of balance and falls are also major contributors to e-scooter injuries and the non-use of helmets may play a role in injury severity.”

Local regulations can help mitigate injuries by designating specific riding areas such as roadways as well as implementing geofencing tools. PMDs are often prohibited from sidewalks by local regulations, but this varies by municipality. Identifying appropriate parking zones for e-scooters is another strategy to help keep sidewalks accessible. Unfortunately, research has shown many people report either not knowing the regulations related to e-scooter use or are found to have incorrect knowledge of those.

TIRF’s RSM data revealed a proportion of PMD riders were observed riding on the road in a manner that needlessly increases the risk of conflict with another road user or falling from the mobility device.

  • 1% of respondents reported frequently observing PMD riders failing to obey traffic signs or failing to yield the right of way.
  • 2% of respondents reported often observing PMD riders weaving in and out of traffic.
  • 8% reported often observing PMD riders performing stunts on public roads. Stunting was less frequently observed among those aged 36 to 75+ years.
  • One in five respondents (22.8%) reported frequently seeing riders on sidewalks, although the legality of this varies between municipalities.
  • 1% responded having often observed PMD riders riding without a helmet, but rules vary by province, municipality and device type.

“Protection is paramount, and micromobility riders can take several steps to avoid crashes and injuries,” says Sarah Simmons, TIRF Research Scientist. “It’s important to be aware of the risks associated with PMDs before using them. Equally important, riders should wear protective equipment in case falls or collisions occur and avoid engaging in activities which could increase their risk of falls or collisions.”

Given the proliferation of PMD technologies and micromobility sharing services in Canadian municipalities, without consistent education about safe riding strategies the prevalence of these behaviours is likely to increase as ridership grows. As such, municipalities and public health professionals are encouraged to play an active role in both regulating the use of these devices to promote safety and supporting concerted educational initiatives to promote safe riding. Working together and respectfully sharing the road can help ensure the safe integration of micromobility into communities.

Download the fact sheet in English & French:

About the poll
These results are based on the RSM, an annual public opinion poll developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 1,500 Canadians completed the poll. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The majority of the questions were answered using a scale from one to six where six indicated high agreement, concern, or support and one indicated low agreement, concern or support.

About TIRF
The vision of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) is to ensure people using roads make it home safely every day by eliminating road deaths, serious injuries and their social costs. TIRF’s mission is to be the knowledge source for safe road users and a world leader in research, program and policy development, evaluation, and knowledge transfer. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, awards, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit www.tirf.ca.

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For more information, please contact:

Karen Bowman
Director, Communications & Programs
Traffic Injury Research Foundation
613-238-5235 (office)
1-877-238-5235 (toll-free)
250-797-0833 (direct)
613-238-5292 (fax)
tirf@tirf.ca / karenb@tirf.ca