In an effort to identify dangerous places for users of ‘soft mobility’ in Brussels, traffic institute Vias has teamed up with AloAlto and scooter company Lime to launch a “Safer Cities” study.
For four weeks, 30 Lime scooters will be equipped with a smart push button that the rider can press if they find themselves in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation during their ride.
A single press from test subjects indicates an uncomfortable situation, two means the user has seen or is in a dangerous place, and one long press of three seconds indicates the user has seen or is near an accident.
The data will then be analysed and given to the Brussels-Capital Region at the end of the year.
“This is the first city in which we operate this experience,” Benjamin Barnathan, general manager of Lime, told La Dernière Heure. “Our users have repeatedly pointed out that Brussels is a complicated city, with a lack of infrastructure for users of soft mobility. Brussels is entirely designed for cars and presents a lot of dangerous places.”
Lime had already surveyed its users. Of those who responded, 70% said they felt unsafe due to poor infrastructure, according to reports.
“The safety of users of soft mobility depends on two things: infrastructure and the behaviour of other users,” Benoît Godart, spokesman for Vias told La Dernière Heure. “This study will allow us to target the infrastructure to install or secure in the capital. But we must continue to educate all road users.”
Although the police do not have any official figures on injuries or deaths resulting from electric scooter-related accidents, one rider was killed in April 2018, and another scooter user was hospitalized after being in an accident back in June.
To minimize accidents, Lime also partnered up with Vias to launch the ‘First Ride’ academy, a training cycle to teach scooter users the right reflexes when riding and proper road etiquette.
First, there is a theoretical part, which points out dangers and explains traffic rules, among other things. The students can then try out a scooter on a Vias practice area under supervision, according to De Standaard.