Opportunities and challenges for shared micromobility planning : a case study of Austin dockless scooter-share program

Date
2023-04-18
Authors
Bai, Shunhua
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Abstract

Shared Micromobility consists of a variety of shared, non-automotive personal modes, from traditional station-based bike-sharing to cutting-edge dockless electric scooters (e-scooters). The rise of shared micromobility in the U.S. was attributed to scooter-share programs in many cities such as Austin and Los Angeles. Research gaps exist in shared micromobility travel behavior for many reasons. First, it has been well integrated with other high-tech innovations such as smartphones and mobile payment. Thus, the travel data is passively collected from location-based devices rather than travel surveys. Second, it is a privatized business in which private vendors own, operate, and manage fleets based on profit-driven business models. As a result, transportation planners have limited data access and oversight power in decision-making. The booming yet under-regulated market has led to adverse social outcomes threatening city aesthetics and transportation equity due to overcrowding vehicles on streets and irresponsible riding and parking behaviors. The dissertation uses the scooter-share program in Austin, Texas, and applies data-driven approaches in urban informatic to examine e-scooter travel behavior at a small scale as well as its transportation equity implications. Research findings show that scooter travelers choose shorter routes based on when and where they travel. In addition, stores with higher spatiotemporal correlation with scooter use tend to attract visitors who reside in lower-income neighborhoods and spend less time during their visits. Interestingly, statistical results show an insignificant difference in visitors’ home distance. The equity analysis suggests that Austin scooter-share has the potential to benefit carless populations by deploying more vehicles in their neighborhoods. However, public space obstruction by overcrowding scooters imposed more mobility difficulties on people with physical difficulties and older populations. The dissertation contributes to the field by shedding light on the opportunities and challenges in shared micromobility planning under a larger umbrella of transportation planning.

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