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Voi joins efforts with the University of Leeds to find out more about the impact of micro-mobility on mental wellbeing

A woman takes a selfie during an event

As World Wellbeing week continues to be celebrated, understanding and promoting awareness of all aspects of wellbeing, including social, emotional and physical wellbeing, is particularly important in these challenging times.

In order to understand how micro-mobility impacts people’s physical wellbeing but also their mental state, Voi has teamed up with the University of Leeds to conduct research to evaluate the potential effects of e-scooters on people’s mental health.

Led by Professor Susan Grant-Muller – Chair in Technologies & Informatics at the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, the research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr Jenna Panter and Dr James Woodcock of the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), University of Cambridge. The research is part of a project sponsored by the Alan Turing Institute

We spoke with Professor Susan about the upcoming research, its place in our understanding of micro-mobility and the potential benefits of the research to the sector.

What do you hope to find out from this study?

The idea for this research came about once we realised that there’s a lack of reporting on how e-scooters may impact riders’ mental health and wellbeing. Many studies have aimed to assess the effects of travel in general on people’s wellbeing, rather than considering e-scooters specifically. This may be largely due to the fact that e-scooters have only been introduced relatively recently. As a result, most of the relevant published work has aimed to draw comparisons with other modes of travel, for example, cycling.

This study strives to understand to what extent e-scooters generate mental health and wellbeing impacts. It also investigates whether e-scooters offer different physical and wellbeing impacts for certain subgroups of users.

How are you going to conduct the research?

To conduct the study we hope to reach out to current and past users of Voi e-scooters in the areas where trials are taking place in the UK. The idea is to create an e-survey that can then be completed any time after a ride, or after a number of rides, have been taken.

What type of information will you collect in order to make your analysis?

We will be asking questions around the topics of life satisfaction, travel satisfaction with e-scooters, physical and emotional wellbeing and more. For instance, we would like respondents to recollect their state shortly after both their most recent journey and over the last month.

Tell us more about the different stages of the research?

We have currently proposed two phases for the e-survey, one starting in June and then a second one in August/September.

We expect that some respondents in each phase will be frequent e-scooter riders and others first-timers, i.e. infrequent users. We also anticipate some of the infrequent users will have become frequent e-scooter riders by the time the second phase of the research begins. This, in turn, will allow us to perform a cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of the two groups in the sample.

When do you expect to be able to share the initial results of the survey?

We aim to generate some initial insights by August, with the full survey results ready to share by the Autumn.

Considering e-scooters are a relatively new mode of transport, how important do you think this research will be to inform future decision making?

We expect to provide valuable insights that shine a light on the impacts that this new form of transport might have on its users. As more people use e-scooters as one of their main modes of transport, it’s crucial to understand how they impact physical and mental wellbeing alongside other broad reaching impacts, for example in terms of energy, the environment, so more informed decisions can be made by relevant stakeholders.