Can an escooter driving school curb bad user behavior?


This week, Dott unveiled an experiment to send bad scooter drivers back to school.

In an industry-first pilot in Rome and Milan, Dott launches a program in which bad drivers who repeatedly park scooters incorrectly (outside an authorized area or breaking traffic laws) are sent to a driving lesson.

Specifically, repeat offenders receive a fine from Dott and a guide to parking and local rules. A third offense invites them to take “a compulsory and free driving course in the fall of 2022”.

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I spoke to Rob Haycocks, PR communications manager at Dott. They told me that the brand works closely with local authorities to put together a route that is suitable for cities and addresses the most common behavioral problems of motorcyclists.

However, the problem is that the course is not a legal requirement. “We’re looking at how we can best incentivize users to participate, with Dott credits or free rides, for example,” Haycocks said.

I think that goes to the heart of the problem. How do micromobility operators prevent, reduce and respond to misbehaviour?

The battle to stop runners from acting like assholes

Over the past five years, every operator has deployed technologies to curb and penalize misbehaviour.

For example, Voi launched RideLikeVoila – a digital traffic school for electric scooters – and introduced a ‘end of race picture‘ require passengers to provide visual evidence of correct parking or risk a fine of £25 (35 USD). Neuron Mobility at the Scootsafe Academy.

Superpedestrian and Lime Use AI to detect curb driving and other bad behavior, audibly alerting passengers and slowing the escooter. Lime is also rolling out a late-night alcohol test. It tests riders’ reaction times before they can unlock an escooter.

However, when it comes to bad driving, there are no statistics on how many private scooters are on the streets.

In most cases (apart from the UK), they have been overwhelmingly absent from the bad rider narrative. And Italy got people buying their own scooters, throwing a subsidy scheme in 2020 which allowed residents to claim up to €500 ($500) of the purchase price.

Who monitors private runners?

While micromobility operators do the heavy lifting, curbing private owners requires police to be vigilant and motivated enough to fine people for speeding or driving on the sidewalk. And, there is no way to slow down or stop a running private escooter.

autonomous scooters

Only a few cities, like dubai and Montrealhave local parking fines for violators or for driving on the sidewalk (Paris). In addition to these initiatives, cities like Berlin and Stuttgart are rolling out parking zones, offering micromobility customers free commute minutes to use them. But this does not encourage private users to use a parking zone.

Collaboration is crucial

Micromobility operators spend an inordinate amount of time working with local municipalities to manage the flow of scooters in their cities.

But almost every city has multiple providers. Successful behavioral controls must extend to all fleets. Otherwise, people fined in one application will simply jump on a competing brand’s escooter.

Who are the bad riders?

Anecdotally, ask most members of the public who the bad drivers are, they will most likely pick teenage males. However, no micromobility provider has publicly shared bad offender demographics. And we don’t have demographic data on private owners.

Although nighttime speed checks and cognitive tests point to the problem of drunk drivers speeding at night.

But do people get on scooters after a night of drinking because there is no adequate public transport after dark? It’s hard to say, despite the narrative around scooters and their vital role in last-mile mobility.

In addition, some cyclists choose to ride on the sidewalk because they do not feel safe on the streets next to cars, as highlighted in focus groups from women who ride escooters.

The women also cited the danger of riding in slow areas with unexpected deceleration. Some felt unsafe to ride at night due to the slow pace or needed to walk on a heavy scooter in areas where they no longer operated at night.

This means that not all commands affect all riders equally.

Micromobility providers are united in trying a combination of carrot and stick approaches to managing driver behavior.

But in the end, we’ll only get wayward cyclists and escooters off the sidewalk through the provision of quality protected cycle paths and accessible parking spaces.

And as for the assholes who deliberately drive badly for fun? If it could be made mandatory by law enforcement, Dott’s flight school might just be the key.

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