Micromobility growth and regulation: Multi-year trends in volume and speed for 27 types of personal mobility devices

The advent of low-power personal mobility devices (PMD) such as electric-assist (e-)bikes, e-scooters, and e-skateboards (often called “micromobility”) is rapidly expanding the range of vehicles used for urban transportation. New mobility options create opportunity to address enduring problems in the transportation sector, but also present new challenges where there is already competition for space and conflicts among travellers. The proposed study aims to address the information needs for transportation engineers to manage and design for the emergence of new PMD. The objectives of the proposed research are to determine 1) the 4-year growth rate in volumes and speeds for each of 27 types of PMD in metropolitan Vancouver, 2) the empirical impacts of regulatory changes on PMD volumes and speeds, and 3) the implications of continuing micromobility growth for speed and comfort in cycling facilities and off-street paths. The proposed research project is a collaboration between the UBC Research on Active Transportation (REACT) Lab and TransLink, the statutory authority responsible for metropolitan Vancouver’s regional transportation system including transit, the major road network, transportation planning, and coordination of regional transportation policy. A previous partnership of this team laid the foundation for the proposed research by validating a novel field data collection method, developing a replicable taxonomy for PMD classification, and collecting a unique “before” dataset from 2019-2020 that provides a reference point to investigate volume and speed trends and the empirical impacts of regulatory changes for specific PMD in the intervening years. We will use the trend and policy analysis results to forecast volumes, speeds, and comfort levels with and without regulatory controls on micromobility devices out to 2040. Our previously-developed comfort models allow forecasting of differential effects on comfort for population sub-groups (non-cis-men, people of colour, people over 65 years of age, etc.). The outcomes of the proposed research will create essential information for Canadian governments and transportation engineers to strategically accommodate and safely and equitably manage micromobility through vehicle regulation and facility design.