Micromobility, especially using electric vehicles, provides the transport ecosystem with numerous solutions facilitating the transition to sustainability, but the new relationships among road users that come with this also pose new risks. E-scooters are especially popular, but recently their widespread use has also radically increased the number of traffic accidents involving these vehicles, two of which ended tragically last year. To increase the awareness of safe (micro)mobility, today Zavarovalnica Triglav has unveiled an e-scooter simulator at a special event called Micromobiity Intersection, held in Kranj's Old Town.
The electrification of this traditional micromobility vehicle and its popularisation are introducing a major change to micromobility as it has been known to date, especially in terms of speed. Specifically, an e-scooter is a lightweight motor vehicle that, due to its construction characteristics and maximum speed of up to 25 km/h (or often even higher due to modified factory settings) may pose a particular risk to users and others.
Therefore, the first simulator of this type in Slovenia is a tool that focuses on the rider's attitude toward those factors that prevent accidents: adjusting speed, keeping an eye on what is happening around them, reacting to accident-related risks in time and braking properly (using both breaks). Every rider can use this simulator to test all these elements that contribute to a safe ride and, based on analysing a specific situation offered by the software, can find out which of them was key to causing an accident (speeding, reacting too late to what was happening nearby, or improper braking).
"In Slovenia, the minimum age required to ride an e-scooter is pretty low, and in practice we know that children often try e-scooters even before they are 12 or have passed their cycling proficiency tests. That's why we want to offer them the opportunity to try out his attractive micromobility device for the first time in a controlled environment, where they can safely learn about the risks and dangers associated with riding an e-scooter. The simulator may also prove a useful tool for parents who are still deciding whether or not to buy an e-scooter for their child, because professionals warn that they shouldn't do this too early, and certainly not before the child has sufficient knowledge and skill to ride one," said the head of the safe mobility projects at Zavarovalnica Triglav, Ana Cergolj Kebler, describing the purpose of this new awareness-raising tool.
A clash between different speeds
Two simulators will be visiting Slovenian schools, where they will be made available to children as part of micromobility workshops, and will also appear at the Triglav Lab technological centre and various public events across Slovenia where they can also be tried out by adults.
"Today's event has opened a discussion on how we're going to communicate on the streets of towns and cities in the future. Because driving or riding in traffic is really a process of constant communication with one's surroundings. The future is going to bring many new micromobility vehicles onto the streets, vehicles of different sizes and moving at different speeds in a limited space, and thus today’s event and this simulator offer an excellent opportunity to foster better communication than we currently have in this context. A form of communication that builds trust in others and encourages us all to behave responsibly, in a positive way, and as partners," commented Andrej Brglez, a long-standing sustainable mobility researcher.
Is there enough room for new forms of micromobilty?
For the e-scooter simulator to be able to fulfil its purpose as an awareness-raising tool, especially considering that for many children it will offer their first experience of such transport, the riding experience must be professionally guided, moderated and assessed. To this end, Slovenia's biggest insurance company has joined forces with Zavod Vozim, an institute that has also been its long-standing partner in promoting safe mobility.
"It's important to make room for new forms of micromobility, especially in cities, because only in this way will they safely coexist with pedestrians and especially other vulnerable groups –the blind and visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing, mobility impaired and so on. Just recently, a young e-scooter rider nearly bumped into the side of my wheelchair downtown, where I didn't expect to see one. This personal experience makes me even more aware of the fact that we all share the urban space. Today's event is the first among many that will use innovative ways to raise young people's awareness that all users share the road, so there will be fewer accidents or potential accidents like mine, and everyone will feel safer in the urban environment," commented the director of Zavod Vozim, David Razboršek.
Positive examples and experience inspire others to follow
Micromobility is also becoming increasingly popular in city centres, because it makes it possible to travel short distances faster and in an environmentally friendlier manner. In this regard, it is also vital to take into account the co-existence of various mobility users and that the appropriate infrastructure is provided for them. The City of Kranj, which was declared the best e-mobility city in Slovenia in 2021, welcomes any mode of environmentally friendly travel and continues to step up its efforts in this area.
"We are constantly laying out new cycle lanes, expanding our KRsKOLESOM bike rental system, building park and ride sites, updating the vehicle fleets of the City of Kranj and certain public institutes with electric vehicles, which are powered by the solar energy coming from the solar panels we install on the roofs of our municipal buildings, we're setting up public e-charging stations, and just this week we've received four of a total of eight electric buses that we're soon going to incorporate into our public transport system. But we also want all road users to stay safe as they travel, and so we welcome any type of awareness-raising events like this one today that is hosted by Zavarovalnica Triglav," said the Vice-Mayor of the City of Kranj, Janez Černe, adding that people tend to appreciate things more if they can try them out in person.
At today's event in Kranj, various forms of urban mobility for the entire family have also been tested by visitors, who could try out various rides on the test track, using scooters, e-scooters, bikes, motor scooters and other motorcycles, cars, and more.
Zavarovalnica Triglav has created this event in cooperation with Zavod Vozim, the City of Kranj, the Kranj Cycling Club, the Kranj Sustainable Mobility Centre and the editorial team of the TV programme Avtomobilnost (Automobility).
Trying out the simulator(s) at the Triglav Lab
One of the two e-scooter simulators will be available to the public at all times at the Triglav Lab technological centre at Dunajska 20 in Ljubljana. There visitors can use four completely different simulators to be immersed in a VR environment and experience an earthquake, jump from the Planica Giant Hill, drive a car in various critical situations and (with the latest addition) ride an e-scooter.