research

Study finds support for shared e-scooters and other micromobility options in Metro Vancouver

August 12, 2020
Print

A study by SFU’s Cities, Health and Active Transportation Research (CHATR) Lab, in partnership with HUB Cycling, finds people are generally positive about shared micromobility options for Metro Vancouver.

Shared micromobility is a phrase used to describe a variety of shared, publicly available, human and electric-powered vehicles, including bike share (dockless and station-based), electric bicycles and electric scooters.

The study’s findings are laid out in “Readiness for Shared Micromobility: Public Perceptions in Metro Vancouver”, a project funded by TransLink’s New Mobility Research Grant Program, and Mitacs.

“There has been a lot of hype about shared micromobility, like e-scooters, as transport options that can alleviate some pressure on our crowded transit systems,” says associate professor Meghan Winters, who leads the CHATR lab in SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

“We don’t have first-hand experience here with shared e-scooters, but we can learn a lot from what has happened in cities such as Calgary, Seattle, Washington D.C. and Portland. We are also asking Metro Vancouverites what they think about these devices, so as to understand the context here.”

Drawing on case studies in jurisdictions across North America and on focus groups with residents across Metro Vancouver, the researchers sought to compile locally relevant data on shared micromobility programs. These programs have been booming in cities around the world, but in Metro Vancouver municipalities have been slower to pick up on this trend.

Winters says this stems in part from legislation—the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act does not allow devices like e-scooters to operate on roads—as well as apprehension arising from negative experiences elsewhere.

The research brings important insights for stakeholders in the region as the province introduces shared micromobility pilot projects for B.C. municipalities this fall.

The findings also reveal specific areas to focus on to support smooth implementation in the region.

“If we are going to welcome a shared micromobility pilot to this region, protecting pedestrian safety is paramount,” said Gavin Davidson, HUB Cycling’s project lead. “Shared e-scooters may have a role to play in serving short trips to and from rapid transit stations, but to welcome them, we must create dedicated infrastructure and sustainable funding from a wide range of sources.”

 Says Winters, “While there is uncertainty about what shared micromobility means for Metro Vancouver, e-scooters could benefit many people, especially with our present reality of COVID-19. Our research highlights the need to carefully plan out pilot projects to understand what works—and where.”

 Despite the impact of COVID-19 on transportation patterns, early evidence suggests that public transit has not been a source of COVID-19 outbreaks or clusters. Still, the province continues to cite the public health benefits of being outdoors, and micromobility offers open-air, physically distanced travel.

CHATR Lab is interested in how community design impacts the way people get around and connect with each other. Learn more at chatrlab.ca.  

HUB Cycling is a not-for-profit charity that promotes active transportation through education, action, events and research. Learn more at bikehub.ca.