Micromobility Use On the Rise
9 tips to keep you safe while making the most of a Personal Transportation Device (PTD).
Across the U.S., people have taken more than 300 million trips on pedal and electric powered bicycles and scooters over the past decade.
These small, lightweight and partially or fully motorized devices are known as PTDs. They are part of a new mode of transportation called micromobility. You may own a PTD or ridden one or seen other people doing so as part of a shared fleet.
The use of these devices saw a dramatic uptick at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people are leery of being in close quarters and using public transportation. So many of them gravitated to alternative forms of getting around.
Whether you ride a PTD or share the road or sidewalk with people who do, safety first.
These tips can help keep you and others safe:
- Learn to ride. Before your first trip, review the PTD operating instructions in your owner’s manual or on the app on your phone. It’s likely, the app also includes safety tips and local rules, so review those, too. If available, take advantage of free hands-on training offered by local shared fleet programs and providers.
- Be visible. Don’t assume motorists can see you. Wear bright, reflective clothing especially at night and in inclement weather. Ride on well-lit streets and pathways whenever possible.
- Protect your head. Helmets may be required, so check out local laws. Even if they aren’t, a helmet can help prevent serious head injury in the event of a fall or crash.
- Know where you can ride. Some communities have "no riding zones" or restrictions on sidewalk riding. Before riding, read up on local rules via your town’s website or the PTD provider’s app. Once on the road, be on the lookout for, and follow all signs. You may also receive no riding or other alerts via your cellphone.
- Abide by the rules of the road and sidewalk. PTD operators must follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicles do on roads. Whether riding on a road or sidewalk, obey all signs and signals. Slow down for and yield to pedestrians and respect the right of way.
- Ride solo and never with children. PTDs are designed for use by one rider at a time. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends children under 16 not ride on or operate a PTD. However, these devices are often easily accessible to minors. They can sign up via an app without parental consent – so check your child’s phone and make sure they know the rules and your expectations.
- Watch out for poor road conditions. Potholes, manhole covers, grates, gravel, cracks and rough, wet or icy pavement can make for an uncomfortable and unsafe ride. Many PTD injuries are the result of these conditions. Be on the lookout for and avoid staring at these hazards (e-scooters tend to go where you’re looking!) and find a safe way to navigate around them.
- Ride fully alert. Reaction time and decision making are critical for safely operating a PTD. Don't let alcohol and other drugs, headphones or mobile devices impact your judgement.
- Park smart. Dockless bikes and scooters can be left anywhere, but they should always be parked upright and never block the right of way. Use designated PTD parking places (corrals) if available. Or park in the furniture zone – the first five feet of the curb, where there are typically benches or trees. Then place one wheel on the curb and the other in the street.
These tips and more information on micromobility are part of the new report:
It was produced by the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) with funding from State Farm.
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