Unsafety on two wheels, or social prejudice? Proxying behavioral reports on bicycle and e-scooter riding safety – A mixed-methods study

Sergio A. Useche, Steve O'Hern, Adela Gonzalez-Marin, Javier Gene-Morales, Francisco Alonso, Amanda N. Stephens

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The use of non-motorized transportation and micro-mobility is increasing in many cities. Bicycle riding and e-scooter use are now more common and affordable than ever. However, users of these devices face certain key issues. These include their own risky behaviors as well as involvement in conflicts with other road users. Self-report data may not adequately capture these behaviors and interactions. Despite this, more objective data (i.e., how third parties perceive these users’ road behaviors) is scarce. Aims: This study aimed to understand whether e-scooter riders have comparable or different riding behaviors than cyclists. This was investigated using a mixed-method study. Methods: This paper is divided into two sub-studies. In Study 1, 950 Spanish non-cyclists and non-e-scooter riders (mean age 31.98 ± 13.27 years; 55.3% female) provided external ratings (proxies) regarding the perceived behaviors of bicycle and e-scooter riders. In Study 2, collective Rapid Assessment Processes (RAPs; n = 23) were used to develop qualitative configurations of some of the key risky behaviors highlighted in Study 1. Results: There were significant differences in the perceived errors and violations rated by proxies for both types of riders (with e-scooter riders perceived as having higher rates of risky behaviors). However, there were also structural differences in the effects of external raters’ risk perceptions, traffic rule knowledge, and traffic incidents with two-wheeled riders on how they rated the behaviors. Conclusion: The results of both studies suggest that external raters’ perceptions provide further understanding of the causes, dynamics, and conflicts related to road behaviors performed by certain groups of road users. This is particularly apparent when there is no clear legislation and information on safe riding in urban areas. In this sense, improving infrastructure could promote safer interactions. Finally, road safety education could focus on promoting safer practices and interactions in order to improve how others perceive riders’ behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-182
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cyclists
  • E-scooter riders
  • Proxies
  • Riding safety
  • Risky behavior
  • Road crash prevention
  • Road users

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Applied Psychology


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