New Tools Can Operationalize Equity in 239 E-Scooter and Bike Share Programs Across the U.S.

posted on Friday, August 5, 2022

Shared micromobility programs for e-scooters and bike share are becoming more common each year. How can we make sure they aren’t just being used for fun, but they’re also being prioritized for those who need a quick, affordable and accessible way to get around? A team of researchers has collected documentation about equity requirements from 239 shared micromobility programs across the U.S. and compiled all the data into an online dashboard, which city officials can use to find what other similar-sized cities are doing. Equity efforts in one city may pave the way for expanded opportunities in another.

Keeping a focus on equity can make this new technology accessible and affordable, and could improve the lives of people with disabilities, people with low incomes, those who don't have access to a smartphone, and those who live in neighborhoods without good transit access. Led by the University of Oregon's Anne Brown and Amanda Howell, with Hana Creger of The Greenlining Institute, the latest report from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) took steps toward...

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Transportation systems play a critical role in maintaining supply chains for effective post-disaster recovery. The March 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns coincided with a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Salt Lake City, Utah, resulting in supply chain disruptions throughout the region. A team of researchers collaborated with local agencies and transportation organizations to use this event and the community's response to evaluate the challenges faced by local business owners and the actions they took to manage the disruptions. Their new report assesses the potential economic impacts of a catastrophic earthquake in the region of Salt Lake City, with an eye toward helping small and medium-sized businesses increase their resiliency.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), Divya Chandrasekhar and Sua Kim of University of Utah’s (UU) City & Metropolitan Planning Department worked with John Downen and Joshua Spolsdoff of UU’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute to survey local businesses about their recovery actions after the March 2020 disasters. The researchers noted that while increasing risk awareness among businesses, the events of March 2020 had not translated into concrete preparedness or mitigation actions. Based on the...

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Zoe Green is a student at the University of Oregon. She is pursuing a bachelor's of science in environmental studies, and a minor in sustainable business. This year she worked as a NITC research assistant, supporting a project on the equity requirements of shared micromobility programs. Learn more about that project: Using Maps and Online Tools to Operationalize Equity in Shared Mobility Services.

Connect with Zoe on LinkedIn


Tell us about yourself?

I’m an incoming senior at the University of Oregon pursuing my BS in environmental studies with a minor in sustainable business. I recently moved back to my home state of Oregon after growing up in Kentucky. My time spent exploring my small town in the Midwest, paired with my frequent visits to the PNW, heavily influenced my interest in environmental conservation. In response to taking courses at UO, my focus shifted to environmental justice. Outside of school, I enjoy baking new recipes, going on picnics with my friends, and making music.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

Coming to Eugene was the first time I lived in an environment with accessible, welcoming public transportation. This experience, and my interest in environmental justice, led me to take...

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Researchers Aaron Golub, John MacArthur and Sangwan Lee of Portland State University, Anne Brown of the University of Oregon, and Candace Brakewood and Abubakr Ziedan of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville have published a new journal article in the September 2022 volume of Transportation Research: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Rapidly-evolving payment technologies have motivated public transit agencies in the United States to adopt new fare payment systems, including mobile ticketing applications. The article, "Equity and exclusion issues in cashless fare payment systems for public transportation," explores the challenges facing transit riders in the U.S. who lack access to bank accounts or smartphones, and potential solutions to ensure that a transition to cashless transit fares does not exclude riders. Learn more about the project and read an open-access version of the final report.

The study asks: who is most at risk of being excluded by the transition to new fare payment systems and how would riders pay transit fares if cash payment options were reduced or eliminated? Researchers answer these questions using intercept surveys of 2,303 transit riders in Portland-Gresham, OR, Eugene, OR, and Denver, CO.

The...

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Transportation can have a significant impact on vulnerable ecologies, especially in rapidly urbanizing regions such as Dallas/Fort Worth. In order for future professionals to balance the needs of sensitive environments with the mobility of people and goods, they must have the proper tools – among other things, a good grounding in regional mapping technologies.

To introduce high school students to geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial reasoning skills, researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) developed a four-week training workshop in ArcGIS and other emerging regional mapping technologies. The workshop was incorporated into an existing high school course focused on the transportation network and environmental justice issues in the communities along the Trinity River. 

Led by the research team from UTA's College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (Joowon Im, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Alan Klein, Director at Institute of Urban Studies, Amruta Sakalker, Graduate Assistant in Planning), they partnered with CityLab High School in the Dallas Independent School District to pilot this workshop. The curriculum, which can be replicated for use by other teachers, introduces students...

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In order to make sure bicyclists' needs are considered when improving a transportation system, planners and engineers need to know how many people are biking, and where. 

Traditional bicycle counters can provide data for limited sections of the bike network, often these counters are installed at important locations like trails or bridges. While limited in location, they count everyone who bikes by. Meanwhile, GPS & mobile data cover the entire transportation network, but that data only represents those travelers who are using smartphones or GPS. Combining the traditional location-based data sources with this new, crowdsourced data could offer better accuracy than any could provide alone. 

"Knowing how many people are bicycling on a street is really important for a number of reasons. As just a few examples, bicycle volumes give you a way to understand safety data and determine crash rates. They provide insight into where and how bicycle trips are taking place, which can help plan for new or improved facilities," said Nathan McNeil of Portland State University.

Supported by a pooled fund grant administered by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), Dr. Sirisha Kothuri of Portland State University led a research project aimed at fusing traditional and...

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Nick Puczkowskyj is a graduate research and teaching assistant at Portland State University's College of Urban and Public Affairs. He is a current Urban Studies PhD candidate, and has served as past president of Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (STEP), PSU's transportation student group. He has also worked as a teaching assistant and research assistant at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Nick's research specializes in transportation equity, focusing on mobility justice, transgender mobility, queer mobility, gender disparities, and marginalized communities. He earned his master's degree in community and regional planning from the University of New Orleans.

Connect with Nick on LinkedIn or view his PSU profile.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickPuczkowskyj


Tell us about yourself?

Currently I'm a 5th year urban studies Phd candidate. Originally from Chicago, I also call Portland and Hong Kong home. Off campus, you can find me on the rugby pitch with the Portland Lumberjacks RFC or foraging Oregon’s forests for mushrooms.

What (or who...

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In 2021 we embarked on creating NITC Research Roadmaps across six core transportation areas of our work, each aimed at identifying key gaps to guide the future direction of research and workforce development initiatives. But to look forward, we had to look back first. This summer, we're be releasing literature reviews of a decade of NITC research in key topic areas. We started with Transportation and Land Use, and now we're moving on to the next theme: Walking and Bicycling.

Walking and bicycling are foundational transportation modes. Understanding how to expand the benefits of these active transportation modes, while reducing current safety deficiencies, is an essential task for research seeking to improve both transportation and its connection to larger environmental, economic, and social goals.

Nathan McNeil of Portland State University, Shuchisnigdha Deb of the University of Texas at Arlington, Maia Ingram of the University of Arizona, Roger Lindgren of the Oregon Institute of Technology, and Marc Schlossberg of the University of Oregon have written an overview of NITC research in this area over the past decade. Download the full literature review of NITC research in walking and biking here...

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In 2021 we embarked on creating NITC Research Roadmaps across six core transportation areas of our work, each aimed at identifying key gaps to guide the future direction of research and workforce development initiatives. But to look forward, we had to look back first. This summer, we're be releasing literature reviews of a decade of NITC research in key topic areas. We started with Transportation and Land Use, and now we're moving on to the next theme: Multimodal Data and Modeling.

Multimodal transportation systems are the backbone of U.S. economic activity. An in-depth understanding of multimodal travel, through data collection and modeling strategies, is crucial to inform policy.

Authored by Sirisha Kothuri and Liming Wang of Portland State University, Kate Hyun of the University of Texas at Arlington, Thomas Gotschi of the University of Oregon, Cathy Liu of the University of Utah, Abolfazl Karimpour of the University of Arizona, and Abbas Rashidi of the University of Utah, this literature review explores NITC's contributions in advancing the state of the practice in this field. Download the full literature review of NITC research in multimodal data and modeling here, or you can ...

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In 2021 we embarked on creating NITC Research Roadmaps across six core transportation areas of our work, each aimed at identifying key gaps to guide the future direction of research and workforce development initiatives. But to look forward, we had to look back first.

This summer, we'll be releasing literature reviews of a decade of NITC research, starting with Transportation and Land Use, authored by Kristina Currans of UA; Jennifer Leslie, Danya Rumore and Yehua Dennis Wei of UU; Rebecca Lewis of UO; Jenny Liu of PSU and Stephen Mattingly of UTA.

Travel behavior and land use are interconnected. In academic research, travel itself is often treated as a demand derived from the activities for which it serves. In practice, coordinating and linking transportation and land use decision making proves to be challenging. What has NITC found? Download the full literature review of NITC research in transportation and land use here, or you can download our two-page summary here.

To reach a broader audience on this critical topic, researchers are translating NITC...

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In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacted travel for in-person shopping, commute trips, global supply chains, and food business operations. E-grocery pickup and delivery services saw unprecedented expansions in response. The adoption and use of these e-grocery services have implications for equity and mobility. A PSU masters thesis offers insights: "Adoption and Use of E-Grocery Shopping in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Transport Systems and Beyond" by Gabriella Abou-Zeid, a 2021 graduate of Portland State University with a masters in civil engineering.

"While the future adoption and use of e-grocery services is uncertain as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, our analysis revealed a clear impact of the pandemic on e-grocery shopping behaviors, which has impacts for transportation network demand, safety, and equity," Abou-Zeid said.

Enhancing our understanding of the drivers of (and barriers to) online grocery shopping and its potential "stickiness"—or the extent to which e-grocery use will continue at the same or higher frequencies after the pandemic—is a prerequisite for unpacking current and future consequences of this ecommerce sector on people...

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