Safe-D: Safety through Disruption

E-Scooter Design



Over the recent years, e-scooters have become an increasingly popular and convenient micromobility solution for short-distance trips for a wide demographic of users. Due to their accessibility, knowledge regarding proper e-scooter use and level of operating experience can vary widely. With the increase in use, there has been a rise in injuries for e-scooter riders and other road users. One possible cause is that the true performance capabilities of e-scooters vary based upon their designs; users are unaware of these differences or how to accommodate their riding behavior to retain a safe experience. This relationship between safety outcomes and e-scooter design attribute has yet to be established. Until recently, very little formal research has been conducted on the safety of this form of transportation or on the optimal design for e-scooters. Safety concerns may limit the widespread adoption of e-scooters as a legitimate transportation option. To address this concern, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), in collaboration with Ford Motor Company and Spin, conducted a controlled participant study on the Virginia Smart Roads to evaluate and compare various e-scooter designs and study how rider specific factors contribute to performance and safety. The results from this study will be used to inform e-scooter companies and manufacturers on design recommendations for improved e-scooter safety.

Project Highlights

  • These e-scooter evaluations conducted during this study proved to be successful in identifying performance differences between scooters, as well as scooter features, and they also provided information on scooter compatibility with road infrastructure, thus illustrating the importance of conducting testing using real-world riding conditions, tasks, infrastructure, and use cases.
  • Each of the scooters had specific features with performance benefits, and by incorporating the optimal features into a single scooter design, e-scooter safety may be improved. However, manufacturers may want to prioritize certain aspects of e-scooter performance. Therefore, for performing low-speed maneuvers such as those included during these evaluations, design recommendations were proposed based upon the features that are believed to have the greatest safety benefits.
  • Virginia Tech Ph.D. student, Adam Novotny, was funded under this project and completed this project as part of his dissertation, which he defended in December 2022. His dissertation will be available on Virginia Tech’s ETD system:

Final Report

VTTI-00-032 Final Report

EWD & T2 Products

Novotny, A. J. (2022). Improving E-Scooter Safety: Deployment Policy Recommendations, Design Optimization, and Training Development. [Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Tech University]. Available on VTechWorks here:

Student Impact Statement(pdf): One students received funding under this project (Adam Novotny, a Doctoral student from Virginia Tech). This file contains a statement by him as to the impact this project had on education and workforce development.


Coming Soon!

Final Dataset

The final datasets for this project are located in the Safe-D Collection on the VTTI Dataverse; DOI: 10.1578/VTT1/XXSXB4.

Research Investigators (PI*)

Mike Mollenhauer (VTTI/VT)*
Elizabeth White (VTTI/VT)
Zac Doerzaph (VTTI/VT)
Adam Novotny (Student-VTTI/VT)

Project Information

Start Date: 2020-05-01
End Date: 2023-01-31
Status: Completed
Grant Number: 69A3551747115
Total Funding: $287,472
Source Organization: Safe-D National UTC
Project Number: VTTI-00-032

Safe-D Theme Areas

Transportation as a Service

Safe-D Application Areas

Vulnerable Users
Planning For Safety
Operations and Design
Performance Measures

More Information

UTC Project Information Form

Sponsor Organization

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
University Transportation Centers Program
Department of Transportation
Washington, DC 20590 United States

Performing Organization

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
3500 Transportation Research Plaza
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061