The study revealed that riding on sidewalks is most common in areas where there are often shared lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, or where it is difficult to discern the continuation of bicycle lanes.  -  Photo: Cover of Study via Cities First Newsletter

The study revealed that riding on sidewalks is most common in areas where there are often shared lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, or where it is difficult to discern the continuation of bicycle lanes.

Photo: Cover of Study via Cities First Newsletter

The Helsinki E-Scooter Safety Tech Case Study has been published, and the results are in, confirming that a deficient bicycle lane network is causing users to ride on sidewalks.

The Helsingin kaupunki — Helsingfors stad — City of Helsinki, Forum Virium Helsinki, Drover AI, Voi Technology, VTT, and Vianova collaborated on the 12-week research project that monitored the use of e-scooters and utilizing AI and computer vision.

The study revealed that riding on sidewalks is most common in areas where there are often shared lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, or where it is difficult to discern the continuation of bicycle lanes.

How The Real-World Case Operated

Voi used the PathPilot application developed by Drover AI to monitor scooter usage in Helsinki for 12 weeks, observing how e-scooters are ridden and the challenges users encounter during their journeys.

In Helsinki, e-scooters are mostly ridden on sidewalks in the areas around the Railway Station, Töölö, and Hietalahti.

"The monitoring study confirmed the assumption that e-scooter riders primarily want to use bicycle paths and lanes. For example, in the Esplanadi area, where investments have been made in bicycle lanes, there was the least riding on sidewalks," said Hannu Oskala, Voi's director, public affairs. "Riding on sidewalks is particularly common in areas where the continuity of bicycle lanes is unclear. In many environments built with a focus on car traffic, such as Hietalahti and Jätkäsaari, e-scooter riders may find themselves among pedestrians as they avoid car traffic.”

During the pilot, an audio sound was also tested to notify e-scooter users if they were riding on the sidewalk.

In Helsinki, e-scooters are mostly ridden on sidewalks in the areas around the Railway Station, Töölö, and Hietalahti.  -  Photo: Pexels/Art Merikotka

In Helsinki, e-scooters are mostly ridden on sidewalks in the areas around the Railway Station, Töölö, and Hietalahti.

Photo: Pexels/Art Merikotka

What the Pilot Found

“The pilot confirmed the use of an audio alert can reduce sidewalk riding by approximately 15%. Real-time AI for traffic monitoring is a rapidly evolving and increasingly common tool for cities as well," said Scott Shepard, Drover AI’s head, policy & government affairs.

According to Shepard, “Drover AI's solution is a valuable tool for cities, as in addition to riding behavior, the pilot provided AI-based visual and locational information on the need for road maintenance and parking enforcement, and granular infrastructure insights from Path Pilot can help regulators better manage pedestrian and cycle paths.”

"From the images collected by the scooters, we obtained accurate information about, among other things, potholes on sidewalks, which can be a safety risk for road users. Additionally, several situations were observed where, for example, a parked car blocked access to the bicycle lane," Juho Kostiainen from the City of Helsinki said.

Voi intends to use the data obtained from the study for the placement of e-scooters as well. The pilot was carried out in collaboration with the City of Helsinki (Business Helsinki, Mobility Lab), Forum Virium Helsinki, Voi Technology Finland Ab, Vianova, VTT, and Drover AI.

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Scott Shepard

Scott Shepard

Head of Policy & Government Affairs, Drover.Ai

Head of Policy & Government Affairs, Drover.Ai

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