Local governments can improve access to jobs by further integrating shared micromobility, such as electric bikes and scooters, into their public transit systems, according to research published earlier this month by the New Urban Mobility alliance and Transport for Cairo.
The study found that, compared with cars, micromobility provided similar access to jobs for trips under 15 minutes and, in large metro areas with good public transit, 30-minute trips. But cars usually offered better access for longer trips than micromobility alone or a combination of micromobility and public transit.
For the study, researchers developed a new, open-source approach that, according to NUMO, better accounts for traffic congestion, car parking, the availability of shared micromobility vehicles and where people are most likely to use micromobility. Others can use it free of charge.
This study may provide a more accurate assessment of how shared micromobility affects access to jobs, as most accessibility analyses don’t consider micromobility on its own or “as a first- or last-mile solution to expand access to existing public transportation,” the study says. Moreover, some analyses assume that cars travel freely — without traffic congestion — and don’t account for the time needed to find, enter, park and exit a motor vehicle.
“These methodological shortcomings lead to gross overestimations of accessibility by car, making cars falsely appear faster than other modes for many trips,” the study says.
To assess job accessibility, researchers measured the number of employment destinations from a given origin point within 15-, 30-, 45- and 60-minute travel time thresholds.
For the analysis, the researchers used data from Uber Movement and Mapbox to evaluate the effects of shared micromobility on job access, with and without the improved methods, in the San Francisco Bay Area, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cairo and Mexico City.
In addition to evaluating the effect of shared micromobility on job accessibility, the researchers created a new way to estimate changes in job access by neighborhood, race and income. In the Bay Area and Minneapolis-St. Paul, the study found that micromobility improved job access more for lower-income residents compared with the average resident.
“In San Francisco, micromobility led to a more equitable distribution of job access across areas of the city,” the study says. Researchers also found that dockless micromobility improved job accessibility between 3% and 6% better than docked micromobility in the Bay Area.
Sebastian Castellanos, NUMO’s research lead, said in an interview that local governments could use information about job accessibility to help set policies for and negotiate with shared micromobility operators.