e-Scooters

Cities around the BSR and elsewhere are commonly facing challenges to preserve the mobility of elderly people and people with particular mobility requirements. In this regard, access to areas such as hospitals and cemeteries for people with impaired mobility – for whom longer walks are often impossible – is limited. Therefore, solutions need to be designed to allow citizens with special needs to access these areas. The provision of e-scooters is one potential solution to this particular challenge. The following use case addresses pollution free e-mobility in combination with social inclusion, both important issues in cities throughout Europe.

Demonstration Action

This use case supported the testing of e-scooters in a large hospital complex in Riga for the transport of patients and staff as well as e-scooters on the main cemetery of Riga, for the transport not only of the workers with their equipment and tools, but also for senior and visitors with physical disabilities.

Riga 1st hospital

Since October 2018, two e-scooter tests have taken place at the Riga 1st hospital. The hospital complex consists of 23 hospital buildings. As the patients have different health conditions, the need to move from one hospital building to another varies, as well as the mobility restrictions of each individual. Considering these aspects, it was decided to test 2 different e-vehicles to compare their functions, as well as to understand the best way to use them to improve the mobility of elderly people or people with particular mobility requirements.

After more detailed investigation of the technical needs of the site and consultation with technical experts, it was indicated which e-scooter models meet specific requirements to be used in the hospital. In particular, the selected vehicles needed to fit the hospital corridors and elevator, should have a speed limit within the hospital complex (10 km/ h) and make a special sound while in use for safety reasons.

Cemetery area

As Riga city has the largest population of Latvia, it also has the largest cemetery areas. No cars are allowed in the cemetery area; thus, it can be complicated for elderly people to walk long distances to clean up their family burial location. Since April 2019, an e-scooter demonstration has been taking place in the Riga cemetery area. An initial survey of the cemetery was made before selecting the e-vehicle. The project team met with the cemetery staff: the manager and technical staff responsible for maintenance. As for technical requirements of the vehicles, the cemetery roads have different surfaces During early spring, late autumn and winter, dirt roads can become muddy, so the e-vehicle should be capable of driving in such conditions. The cemetery roads have steep slopes, so the e-vehicle needs a powerful engine as well as large studded tires. As cemetery roads have different width, the e-scooter needs to be selected respectively. Finally, the e-vehicle should ensure passenger transportation and technical equipment transportation (such as wheelchairs for example).

The e-scooter is used from Tuesday to Sunday, the days in which the cemetery is open to visitors, reaching the average number of more than 60 visitors per day. The e-vehicle is charged overnight, inside a guarded garage. The average distance driven per day was up to 30 km. Cemetery staff received practical training of e-vehicle usage and maintenance after the e-vehicles were delivered. Due to the fact that e-vehicle are used outdoors, a specific garage was built for their storage, which is cleaned every evening from dust and dirt.

Results, lessons learnt and recommendations

Riga 1st hospital

  • Apart from good technical parameters, daily positive reviews from patients were indicated during the testing as well.

  • E-scooters significantly improved the mobility not only of the patients but also of the hospital staff of 4 departments of the Heart Surgery Division.

  • E-vehicles can be charged in any of 23 hospital buildings, increasing user mobility.

  • Many of Latvia’s hospitals, including Riga 1st hospital, are located in historical buildings. It is important to take into account that those premises’ sizes differ from those of more recently built hospitals. This should be considered when selecting the e-vehicle model.

  • Hospital staff suggested to use specific devices for small cargo transportation. This would ensure patient transportation and medical transportation as well. The cargo device should be equipped with thermo-regulation function.

  • The hospital staff is mainly of an older generation and had difficulties using e-vehicles. Thus, the appropriate training should be provided to staff of all generations.
    The main benefits of e-scooters include the increase in employee’s capacity and in social inclusion of patients as well as easy undertaking of technical maintenance of the e-vehicles.

Cemetery area

  • People visit cemeteries all year long. Taking into account the weather conditions in different seasons, the e-vehicle has to be protected from rain and wind in cold seasons and a pleasant drive has to be ensured in the hot season. These aspects are important in order to ensure a positive passenger attitude for e-vehicle usage in cemeteries. Visitors using e-vehicles gave only positive feedback.

  • Due to the fact that e-vehicles emit almost no sound, cemetery visitors haven’t had any objections for their usage in the area. It should be stressed that any kind of transport usage in the cemetery has been historically forbidden in Latvia.

  • It was smart decision to have a cargo compartment, as an e-vehicle was able to transport visitors as well as freight and visitors’ property (such as wheelchairs).

  • Specific road conditions of the particular cemetery should be taken into account (surface, weather impact, road width) when selecting an e-vehicle model.

  • Additional meetings with hospital and cemetery managers were organized to discuss daily life of staff, their main challenges, main needs and also observations about visitors’ habits to improve the e-scooter use.

  • E-scooter testing has been prolonged in the cemetery, due to the need to test e-vehicles in all seasons. Social inclusion increased significantly for cemetery visitors.

Generally, it is recommended to exchange experience between different hospitals or medical organizations to compare the lessons learned from e-vehicle usage. In case of using e-scooters in cemetery area, it is advised to increase awareness of the possibility to use e-vehicle in a specific area for all visitors.

Key recommendations are summarized in a theme-specific Action Checklist for Municipalities and Organizations.

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