These electrified versions of a child’s toy are becoming a popular form of adult transportation, able to travel at speeds up to 30mph (50km/h) and even carry two people. One can see their appeal, especially in urban areas, since they reduce traffic congestion, are maneuverable, easy to learn, and do not take up much space. But because of the reckless riding of some people, they are posing a risk to pedestrians.

French police are searching for two women after the death of a pedestrian who was hit by an electric scooter in Paris, officials say.

The 31-year-old victim, an Italian citizen named only as Miriam, was walking along the Seine early on Monday when she was hit by the e-scooter.

The pair were reportedly travelling at high speed, and did not stop.

The case has renewed the debate over e-scooters in Paris, where there have been concerns for the safety of pedestrians.

In 2019, the French government introduced rules after hundreds of incidents, including several deaths. Riders are required to be at least 12 and cannot ride their scooter on the pavement.

In terms of use, I do not see a significant difference between e-scooters and bicycles since both can travel at roughly the same speeds but legislation governing the use of e-scooters is still lagging. Both types should not be allowed on sidewalks and should follow the rules of the road. Cars should share the road with e-scooters the same way they share it with bicycles and be especially cautious around them since the riders of both are so vulnerable.

But the dynamics of the two vehicles are quite different.

Single-track vehicles like bicycles and motorbikes are important subjects of research in vehicle dynamics. Therefore, the theoretical results for bicycles will be used for escooters, too. However, the parameters of bicycles and escooters are very different: The bicyclists are sitting on their vehicles while the scooters are standing. Moreover, the bicycles have big wheels with tires generating gyroscopic forces and escooters have only small often rigid wheels. The knowledge of how the main parameters of the model affect its stability and maneuverability will allow design modifications that may lead to safer vehicles and will result in the reduction of accidents in urban mobility through these vehicles.

Because of the smaller wheels, the stability of e-scooters is quite different from that of bicycles..

Using the 25 bicycle benchmark parameter listed in for the computation of the eigenvalues to check the lateral stability, it turns out that the benchmark bicycle is statically unstable at low speeds, asymptotic stable for medium speeds and oscillatory unstable at high speeds. As well-known, bicycles can be ridden with hands off. However, the self-stability is weak, and in Germany it is illegal to ride a bicycle free-handed on public roads.

In this paper the 25 bicycle benchmark parameters are replaced by the corresponding 25 escooter benchmark parameters recently computationally evaluated and documented in the Institute Report. Now, it turns out that the benchmark escooter is completely unstable, it can’t be ridden freehanded at all. However, for bicycles at low and high speeds as well as escooters at all speeds stable riding is achieved by steering torques controlled by the experience of the rider.

Learning riding a two-wheeler is comparatively easy. Even in Germany bicycle and escooter riders don’t need a license. But for scooters and insurance is required and the maximum speed has to be limited to 20 km/h. Escooters are not permitted on walk-ways, they have to use cycle tracks in Germany and, if not available, they have to ride on roads.

It is going to take some time for people to get used to the dynamics of scooters and for drivers to see e-scooters on the roads.


  1. Malcolm says

    The fact that these can be ridden on pavements terrifies me. They are silent and I wear hearing aids and do not hear sounds from behind e at all. There will be a spate of serious accidents with these thing until sensible laws are brought in.

  2. rockwhisperer says

    I commuted to school and work by bicycle for many years, and a bicycle is still my husband’s primary commute vehicle. For reference, we live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Bicycles belong on the street or the bike trail. Full stop. No sidewalks. The same is true of e-scooters, electric bicycles, electric seated scooters (useful when you are too disabled for walking or bicycling) and so forth. Oh, and wear a helmet, dammit!

    In California, the law says that a bicycle is a vehicle, and entitled to an entire lane if needed. This becomes an issue on mountain roads, or narrow streets without bicycle lanes. Old bicyclists have learned to be bright, be lighted, be seen, take the road that is due us, be courteous but not obsequious.

    What we must not do, is endanger people walking on sidewalks. So should it be for any vehicle that moves faster than people walk.

  3. jrkrideau says

    These electrified versions of a child’s toy are becoming a popular form of adult transportation, able to travel at speeds up to 30mph (50km/h) and even carry two people.

    I do not see a significant difference between e-scooters and bicycles since both can travel at roughly the same speeds

    Uh, no. A Tour de France level cyclist may ride at 50km/h. A utility cyclist unless on a steep downhill slope with the wind behind them will be pressed to hit 25km/h in an urban riding situation. Maybe 30km/h on open roads but I doubt they can hold it for any length of time.

    I have never tried an e-scooter but this
    Now, it turns out that the benchmark e-cooter is completely unstable sounds very likely to me. One’s centre of gravity on an e-scooter is way to high for safety an any speed. Watch skate-boarders dismounting at much slower speeds.

    A cyclist is in an unstable state but appears to have better balance than an e-scooter rider—the cyclist has an A or three-point balance and in some emergencies can just come to a stop and stand.

    It is not clear to me but my guess is that the three-point balance and larger wheels also allow faster and more stable maneuvering. Try to imagine a sudden swerve on an e-scooter as you stand up tall with your feet together versus a sudden swerve on a bicycle with bath hands on the 35--45 wide handlebars and feet on either site of the bicycle frame.

    @ 1 Malcolm
    There is no way e-scooters (or bicycles) should be allowed on sidewalks/pavements. It is far too &^$%* dangerous.

  4. Matt G says

    I started inline skating around NYC almost 30 years ago. The state of the pavement and my hips has made this now impossible for me. I biked up along the Hudson River to my post-doc at Columbia for four years (8k round trip). That was over 15 years ago, before the age of e-anything.

    E-bikes are my greatest fear these days. They are abundant, fast and silent, and the choice for delivery people for obvious reasons. It’s hard to gauge their speed/acceleration from a distance because they require no effort -- the motion of a cyclist going fast is easy to read.

    I considered an e-bike a year ago, but instead purchased a small, folding kick bike (a scooter for adults: 12” pneumatic wheels and bicycle brakes). It has come in very handy, especially since my hip sometimes makes walking difficult.

  5. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    They’ve been around for well over a decade, and really not getting how this is at all new or difficult. Legislation rarely bothers to indicate how the rider mounts the <4 wheeled vehicle, so e-scooter == scooter == bike == unicycle == moped == e-bike == small scooter == full motorcycle == "a vehicle" which must travel upon the roadway as any other vehicle. Only difference is helmet and vehicle indicator/lighting requirements varying with each speed/power class to keep the rider safer on the roadway; license and insurance requirements are for protecting others on the road.

    e.g. Georgia has electric-assist bicycle/tricycle with <20mph and <1000W with normal bicycle helmet and no license; same as unassisted bicycle, trike, scooter, unicycle, etc. Then there is moped (<35mph; <50cc; <2hp) requiring any valid drivers license and a DOT-rated helmet. All vehicles except wheelchairs and other very-low-speed (~5mph max) assistive people movers must travel on the road; riding on a pedestrian sidewalk gets you a ticket.

  6. says

    A lot of paid influencers talk up onewheels, segways, scooters, etc. and don’t mention all of their friends who lose teeth, dislocate shoulders, break jaws, etc.

    I’m biased by 35+ years riding motorcycles on the street. But, motorcycles have bigger wheels, which can ride potholes better and won’t lock against a pebble -- they have a longer wheelbase and a motor that can cruise reliably at speed. Motorcycles have real tires and can have anti-dive brakes. I do not see scooters, minibikes, onewheels, etc., as anything but dangerous toys. They are not a form of transportation any more than a skateboard is a serious form of transportation that can flow with traffic. Flowing with traffic is very important for safety -- the fact that most toys can’t do that means they force the operator onto the sidewalk -- making them a nuisance or a threat for pedestrians.

    A motorcycle is no harder to operate than a scooter and you used to be able to pick up a Honda Rebel for a few hundred dollars more than a onewheel or a scooter. Consequently, I see people who operate toys in traffic as dangeous idiots: worthy of sympathy when they get mangled but they have no right to be surprised when they get mangled. I know trucks are supposed to respect people operating toys, but accidents happen and the trucks often don’t stop because you can obliterate a onewheel rider and not even feel or hear it. In my years on motorcycles I several times kicked in the side of a car, or bashed off a rear view mirror. You can’t maneuver defensively on a toy either because they have no accelleration and no mass.

    I’m not going to say they should be banned, but they’re a dangerous sport and operators should examine the terms of their insurance before incurring potentially massive expenses (I know, in civilized countries that’s not an issue) I guess I’m biassed.

  7. Lofty says

    In my city it has been legal to ride a bicycle on the footpath (sidewalk) for the last few years, subject to some simple rules such as pedestrians ALWAYS have priority. Despite the predictable howls of outrage from the pedestrian lobby, there have been no significant collisions between bicycles and pedestrians since the law changed. There have of course been fewer cyclists mowed down by errant motorists, but that’s a negative statistic easily ignored by the concern trolls.
    And there are the e-bikes. I ride one myself these days. Loads of them about and they seem to have blended in quite well, they’re just another thing for ear-budded pedestrians to have a snide little grumble about.
    As for e-scooters, we have various species of for-hire devices, nothing but a vague background noise from the usual suspects has been heard for a while. A lack of tourism due to covid-19 may have a lot to do with that. Privately owned e-scooters are not allowed though.

  8. StonedRanger says

    Here in Portland, they had the so called ‘scooter experiments’. These came some months after private scooter companies littered the streets with scooters. The law says must wear helmets and ride in the bike lanes. I watched for months and never saw one person with a helmet or who rode strictly within the bike lanes that are all over Portland. Daytime riders, night time riders with never a thought to their visibility. Some of the scooters had brake lights or forward facing lights that were useless.

  9. KG says

    Cars should share the road with e-scooters the same way they share it with bicycles

    You mean cutting them up, zooming past them at centimeter distance and high speed, beeping and swearing at the cyclist who dares to give stationary vehicles a safe berth (I was once knocked off my bicycle by an idiot driver opening their door) or move into position to turn?

  10. mailliw says

    There are some serious question marks over whether e-scooters have any significant environmental advantages.

    The majority of e-scooter journeys replace walking, public transport or cycling rather than car journeys. The rental e-scooters have a very short lifespan typically 29 days of use -- and therefore have a similar environmental impact to a small car.

    However, regarding the danger to pedestians and cyclists, the number one danger remains the car. One simple way to improve matters is to follow the lead of Spain and restrict vehicles to 30 kph in urban areas. The chances of a fatal accident for a pedestrian or cyclist are substantially reduced by this measure.

    Sure it annoys me when e-scooters and cyclists are on the sidewalk -- and it is dangerous for pedestrians. As a cyclist myself I feel this gives us all a bad name. What I find especially baffling is that the street round the corner from us is designated as one where cyclists have priority -- but some people still cycle on the sidewalk!

  11. mnb0 says

    “I do not see a significant difference between e-scooters and bicycles ”
    You don’t see a significant difference between 50 km/h and 20/ km/h? Or are you thinking about e-bikes?

    “Cars should share the road with e-scooters the same way they share it with bicycles”
    I shudder. The Netherlands are so safe for cyclists exactly because bicycles share as few roads with cars as possible.


    Allowing e-scooters on bicycle roads is asking for accidents.

    “be especially cautious”
    Appeal to morality never works.

    @3 JRK: “There is no way e-scooters (or bicycles) should be allowed on sidewalks/pavements.”
    As a Dutchman I can’t imagine anyone seriously considering this ridiculous idea.

  12. Marja Erwin says

    The rules of the road are written for cars, and aren’t safe for bikes. Which means we get more cars. And more danger for everyone else.

    With the number of cars, their mass, and their speeds, you’re a lot more likely to be injured or killed by a car or a light truck than by a bike. I’ve already been hit by a light truck and by a car as I was trying to cross the street. From what I’ve read you’re more likely to get injured or killed by a car *even when you’re in the sidewalk*.

    So I think we should encourage bikes everywhere, including sidewalks, to reduce reliance on cars, and accidents from cars, and pollution.

    My one reservation-- please don’t use flashing/blinking lights. These screw up my brain, especially since I’ve been hit by that truck and that car.

    I’d strongly suggest checking Not Just Bikes for videos on infrastructure and traffic safety, although some videos have time lapse and/or flashing lights. https://www.youtube.com/c/NotJustBikes

  13. jrkrideau says

    @ 13 Marja Erwin
    I think we should encourage bikes everywhere, including sidewalks

    No! no! Not sidewalks. Typical pedestrian speed is ~5km/h; typical utility cyclist—one commuting, going shopping and so on—is ~20--25km/h. Pedestrians can move almost instantaneously in any direction and a cycle cannot.

    Also a pedestrian can step out of a doorway and be broadsided by a cyclist. This nearly happened to me as I stepped out of the bicycle shop.

    @ 12 mnb0
    As a Dutchman I can’t imagine anyone seriously considering this ridiculous idea.

    Oh, it’s done. Come to think of it, Munich has a bike path and sidewalk combo that is separated by a thin line of paint. I nearly had a friend picked off there as we left the tech museum.

  14. anat says

    In Seattle cycling on the sidewalk is legal. Cyclists mostly ride on roads (or bike-lanes if available), but in some places the road is not perceived as sufficiently safe, so they get on the sidewalk. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/when-and-where-are-bicyclists-allowed-on-sidewalks-in-When and where are bicyclists allowed on sidewalks in Seattle? Bike Laws: May Be Different than You Think.

    Helmets are apparently required in all of King County, including Seattle, but I think there was some kind of call to change the law when bike-shares were introduced. Not sure what became of that. I do see more people riding without helmets in recent years.

  15. Marja Erwin says

    > This nearly happened to me as I stepped out of the bicycle shop.

    I’ve often been *nearly* hit by cars.

    I’ve twice been *actually* hit.

    For the past several years I’ve been struggling with neuro issues, I can’t take the bus, I have to walk everywhere, I get very sick from all the dangerous safety signals, and I would much rather by hit by several more bicycles then hit again by a single car.

  16. Matt G says

    The path in Manhattan along the Hudson runs almost from tip to tip, with just a few bits away from the river. South of around 56th there are pillars where a car could enter a la the attack a few years ago by a van which killed a few people. The pillars come in triplets every 3 or so blocks on average, have maybe 4 feet between them, and are a danger themselves. The path is supposed to be free of motorized vehicles, but on one recent trip I found only about half were person propelled.

    There is a spot at 79th St. where people keep, and even live aboard, boats. You used to be able to bike right by, but now bike traffic is routed away from this area. My guess is that someone going to or from their boat got hit. The obvious solution is to do what we learned as kids: look both ways! The problem now is that the bike detour is very awkward and steep in parts, and mixes people and bikes in a very complicated pattern. I think the cure is worse than the disease.

  17. Marja Erwin says


    Besides that, the drivers often go a lot faster than 20 to 25 km/hr, and they only slow down at intersections, and they don’t watch for people on bikes or on foot because they’re too busy watching for those in other cars.

    If it’s not safe to share the sidewalk with bikes because of the speeds involved, how is it supposed to be safe for them to share the street/road with cars?

  18. bmiller says

    Agree totally with Marcus. These are DANGEROUS TOYS. The post at 11 is also relevant. Scooters are another part of the effort to convert us all to lazy, passive Wall-E blobs. And no, I am not talking about those whose mobility limitations require assistance. I am talking about 20 year olds zooming around Lake Merritt at dangerous speeds on a very crowded shared bicycle/pedestrian path, almost hitting pedestrians and bicyclists. Scooters are randomized, poorly balanced, too fast, and dangerous. They are just another trendy toy that should be sneered at. Plus, they litter sidewalks and streets and private property, the pious promises of scooter shills that THEIR company will not allow that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *