Urbanism Next
University of OregonUniversity of Oregon
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Micromobility

Shared micromobility devices like bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters are becoming new fixtures of transportation. How will micromobility integrate with other transportation modes?

What is driving change?

Change in Vehicle Miles Travelled

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) may increase or decrease total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the future, although most researchers predict the former, citing research on the impacts of transportation network companies (TNCs) on VMT. VMT may also rise if, for example, AVs circle blocks continuously waiting to pick up their passenger rather than parking.

Change in Congestion

Several studies examining the impacts of transportation network companies (TNCs) on congestion have concluded that TNCs are contributing to increased congestion. On the one hand, autonomous vehicles (AVs) could contribute to increased congestion resulting from a combination of induced and latent demand, mode replacement, and increased circulation (e.g., continuously circling the block when waiting to pick up a passenger rater than parking). On the other hand, the potential exists for AVs to help decrease congestion if they are able to travel in closer proximity than human-driven vehicles, resulting shorter headways and narrower travel lanes.

Change in Ease of Travel

While autonomous vehicles (AVs) have been predicted to induce trips and increase congestion within central cities, some studies have predicted that AVs might increase the speed of travel to and from suburban and exurban areas as they take advantage of faster and more efficient travel on arterials, highway, and freeways. This may allow travelers to reach further into the periphery of cities while maintaining their current commute time.

Shift in Modes

The growth of transportation network companies (TNCs) in the past several years has impacted travel behavior, with preliminary research suggesting that TNCs are among the factors impacting transit ridership. If AVs lower travel costs, potential modal shifts may occur depending on trip distance and purpose.

Future Changes

Electric scooters parked on grass strip next to road

Photo by Zera Li on Unsplash

What Could Happen?

  • The proliferation of shared micromobility may increase the opportunities for first-/last-mile connections. According to the 2017 National Household Travel Survey, approximately 35% of vehicle trips are two miles or less. Many of the origins or destinations of such trips may be in lower density areas that are more difficult to serve by transit. Whether the entire trip is two miles or less, or the end of a transit trip is such a distance (the first- and last-mile challenge), the increasing prevalence of shared micromobility systems may increase the chances for more of these trips to be taken by something other than a vehicle.
  • Street design may need to be updated to accommodate increased micromobility usage. The right-of-way may need to be evaluated and space may need to be reallocated as micromobility vehicles increasingly compete for limited space with other road and sidewalk users.
  • Mode interactions may become increasingly complex as a wide variety of modes share limited street space. Interactions between micromobility devices (bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, etc.) and AVs, once deployed, may become increasingly complex. Since AVs will, presumably, be deployed with the technology required to avoid hitting objects, their operation could potentially be disrupted by other road users who may interact differently with AVs than conventional vehicles if the expectation is that it will always stop.

EVIDENCE TO DATE

  • Efforts to facilitate first-/last-mile micrcomobility connections via mobility hubs are already underway. For example, in Sacramento, California, the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) partnered with JUMP in 2018 on an e-bikeshare program and began installing charging bays inside transit stations, with plans to expand to 23 stations overall. To further encourage people to take advantage of the first- and last-mile connection, SacRT offered JUMP e-bike users free light-rail rides for a limited time if they used a JUMP e-bike to complete a trip within the transit service area. Other cities like Minneapolis, MN are piloting mobility hubs, locating bikeshare and e-scooter share at select transit stops. More information is needed, however, to determine how these efforts to facilitate connections are impacting travel behavior.
  • Shared micromobility growth and its impacts on streets and sidewalks raise important questions about space allocation. In the case of shared bikes, questions center around where they should be parked and whether or not they should be docked. For e-scooters, questions are not just about where they should be parked but also where they should be ridden. Concerns about pedestrian safety arise from sidewalk riding, and parked devices blocking pedestrian paths. In response to these challenges, some cities have begun removing on-street vehicle parking spots and re-allocating that space for micromobility device parking.

Quick facts

Si aliae qui ommolenet que prati aut eossitae optatus daepell uptatur andante comni idebit quid moluptio te am quat facculparum recaecte.

  • Investment in dockless bikes increased from $290 million in 2017 to $2.6 billion in 2017 in the United States, according to industry research.
  • According to the same research, bikeshare riders in New York City alone rode a combined total of 1.8 million miles in 2017.

What to do

Si aliae qui ommolenet que prati aut eossitae optatus daepell uptatur andante comni idebit quid moluptio te am quat facculparum recaecte.

Not sure where to start? Below are four What to Do pages that we think are especially relevant to Micromobility:

More about what to do »

Resources

Policies, pilots, and approaches

Journal Article
2019
Joseph Hollingsworth
North Carolina State University

Inclusive of manufacturing, transportation to the US, and the use phase, this study looks at the environmental impact of e-scooters compared to the use of alternative modes of transportation.

Communication tools

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