Who Are the Potential Users of Shared E-Scooters? An Examination of Socio-demographic, Attitudinal and Environmental Factors

Automated Vehicles in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area: Overview from a 2018 Consumer Survey
April 24, 2019
by
Raktim MITRA and Paul H. HESS

Shared E-Scooters and Policy Challenge

Shared micro-mobility has become a subject of great policy and research attention.

In the past three years, dockless shared e-scooter systems have emerged and quickly spread all across the world. The rise of shared e-scooter systems has outpaced the ability of the cities and regions to formulate policy and guidelines. As private providers continue to search for new markets, municipalities are beginning to produce policies relating to traffic regulation, speed and curb space management.

This study focuses on Toronto and surrounding municipalities in Canada, where e-scooters are illegal on streets. Recently, the Provincial Govt. has announced a policy to allow e-scooter pilots in Ontario municipalities. It is anticipated that some municipalities in our study area will see e-scooter services as early as spring of 2020

Research Questions

The socio-demographic, attitudinal and environmental characteristics that may influence willingness to adopt e-scooters is not well understood. This paper focuses on stated intentions of adopting e-scooters.
Two research questions were examined:
  1. To what extent are the neighbourhood residents willing to adopt e-scooters for some of their daily trips, when they become available in their neighbourhood? and
  2. What are the socio-demographic, attitudinal and environmental perception-related factors that are associated with the intention to use e-scooters?

Data and Analysis

Data was collected through an online travel behaviour survey in the summer and fall of 2019. The survey covered 17 urban and suburban neighbourhoods located in major cities within the GGH region, among residents living within 1 km from identified major streets.

A total of 1,640 adults aged >18 years participated in the survey

The intention of adopting e-scooters (“Yes” vs. “Unsure or No”) was examined using logistic regression models.

Key Findings

  1. One in every five residents would consider shared e-scooters if they were available in their neighbourhood.
  2. Most residents would replace their walking and transit trips with e-scooters. 37% would not replace any current trip taken using other modes.
  3. Those who preferred active, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective transportation options were less likely to report an intention to consider e-scooters.
  4. Travel-related attitudes and neighbourhood environment were as important as socio-demographics in explaining the intention to consider e-scooters.

Implications

Significant potential demand for shared e-scooters exists, but when available, e-scooter trips may not replace many car trips.

Walkability/bikability and safer streets are important neighbourhood conditions that may influence e-scooter usage. But these factors may be less important in urban conditions.

There may be political and policy tensions created by promoting a micro-mobility option that is particularly popular with a newer, urban population associated with neighborhood gentrification. Further research should explore these social implications more systematically.

This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)