Contested boundaries: E-scooter riders’ and pedestrians’ experiences of sharing space
Globally, e-scooters have become a popular mode of transport with the arrival of shared e-scooter services in cities and the availability of e-scooters for private purchase. E-scooters represent an exciting opportunity to reduce reliance on cars and address environmental and health concerns associated with car-based travel. However, the lack of designated transport space for e-scooters has caused contention because e-scooter riders share space with other transport users. The use of e-scooters on footpaths has faced opposition from walking and disability advocacy groups because of the potential danger and disruption that e-scooters pose to pedestrians. Previous research has highlighted the challenges and tensions of different transport users sharing space, however, the relative novelty of e-scooters means that research investigating experiences of riding e-scooters and sharing space with pedestrians is limited. This study aimed to explore e-scooter riders’ and pedestrians’ experiences of sharing transport space in Christchurch, New Zealand, and examine what their experiences mean for transitioning towards healthy and sustainable travel practices.In-depth interviews were conducted with twelve participants who had experienced sharing space as an e-scooter rider, a pedestrian or both. A thematic analysis of the interview data highlighted the complexities of e-scooter riders’ and pedestrians’ everyday experiences of sharing space and the micropolitics of their encounters. E-scooter riders and pedestrians discussed the challenges of negotiating encounters because of the divergent ways that they move through space, communicate and coordinate their movements with others. They drew attention to how claims to space are made sense of in relation to meanings about people, spaces and objects, and the ways that these meanings are drawn on to construct e-scooter riders as (il)legitimate path users. The participants associated some of the challenges of e-scooter riders and pedestrians sharing space with the regulatory and commercial contexts of e-scooters, and highlighted the need to address these macro-level structures. The findings of this study illustrate the ways that e-scooters add complexity to spaces shared with pedestrians because e-scooters blur boundaries with other modes of transport, and the social and spatial conditions of e-scooter riders’ and pedestrians’ encounters are shaped by a transport system that prioritises car-based travel.
Advisor: Curl, Angela; Thompson, Lee
Degree Name: Master of Public Health
Degree Discipline: Department of Population Health, Christchurch
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: E-scooters; walking; space; experiences; encounters
Research Type: Thesis