E-scooters are an emerging micromobility transportation option with implications on transportation systems and public health. To date, most research on public health and E-Scooters has focused on safety implications. Health implications other than injuries are likely, but there has been no investigation to date of e-scooter impacts on chronic disease. For example, there is some indication that e-scooters are replacing some auto trips with about a third of users self-reporting the trip would have been taken by a vehicle without the scooter. This may reduce localized pollution exposure and thus reduce cardiovascular and respiratory risk. However, e-scooter riders in various cities are reporting that about half of trips would have been taken by walking or biking. This implies a potential reduction in physical activity which has immense negative implications cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health and some types of cancers.
To investigate the chronic disease implications, this project will use the Integrated Transport and Health Impact Model (ITHIM) to perform the first known analysis of E-Scooters on a range of morbidity outcomes. ITHIM is a modeling tool that uses burden of disease data and relative risks to estimate changes in mortality and disability adjusted life years (DALYS) as a measure of morbidity from modal shifts. It has been used in long-range transportation planning exercises for over a decade and will be applied to two six-month E-Scooter Pilots: Portland, Oregon (2018) and Tucson, AZ (2019-2020). In addition to modifying ITHIM to analyze this new mode, the project will investigate the sensitivity of assumptions such as length of walk to reach scooters, parked cars, and other modes. Results will inform longer-term decisions about E-Scooter status in the City of Tucson and provide a template for incorporating the co-benefit of chronic disease into other public decisions nationwide.