Electric scooters take off at Virginia Tech for first-of-its-kind safety study

Virginia Tech, Spin team up to research e-scooters

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Virginia Tech students are now getting across campus with electric scooters and helping with research at the same time.

The popularity of e-scooters has soared across the country, but transportation experts said the research hasn't caught up.

"There have been concerns about safety and how they're impacting mobility throughout the community," said Mike Mollenhauer, director of the Center for Technology Implementation at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, or VTTI.

"There's a lot of excitement, there's some injuries, there's a lot that's still needed to be understood," said Ted Sweeney, special projects manager for Spin.

That's why VTTI is teaming up with micro-mobility company spin for a first-of-its-kind research project.

"How scooters are fitting in, what risks scooter riders face when they're riding around," Sweeney said.

Researchers put cameras, accelerometers and other research equipment on 50 of the 300 scooters.

"When we have issues, we can take that video then and look at what the problem was or look at what some kind of a countermeasure might be to help resolve that problem, hopefully keeping the campus safer," Mollenhauer said.

They’re hoping the research will lead the way to creating safer streets beyond Virginia Tech.

"Our goal is to make scooters a great option for everyone," Sweeney said.

The pilot project lasts 18 months.

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