While the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased the usage of electric scooters, experts believe the popularity of such devices could rapidly rebound if travelers decide to use scooters for transit on shorter trips.
In order to understand travel demand patterns of shared e-scooter use and the demographics most likely to use this form of transportation, researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and collaborators from the University of Florida built the first segment-level model that allows for capturing built environment variables.
Researchers used four weeks of data between June 17 and July 14, 2019. That period was selected because it represents the month of highest use. For that period, they used data for four weeks of weekdays, Monday to Thursday, for a total of 16 weekdays and four Saturdays.
The study, published in the journal Transportation Research Part A, used Washington, D.C. because of its availability of wide-open data. Since the launch of its bikeshare program in 2008, Washington D.C. has been a leader in micro-mobility. Dockless bikeshare started in 2017 and electric shared scooter pilots popped up in 2018.
According to the study, tourism is a considerable driver in scooter usage. Tourist attractions, hotels, and metro stops were common destinations and departure spots—with the most activity being seen on Saturday, as opposed to weekdays. In regard to demographics, researchers discovered the majority of users are younger, median-aged individuals with bachelor’s degrees.
According to Louis A. Merlin, Ph.D., lead author and an assistant professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, “We believe the evidence is more persuasive that riders are using scooters for transit access and egress. By leveraging a derived-demand framework, we have attempted to control for the most common types of origins and destinations for scooter travel – residences, commercial areas, tourist stops, parks, and hotels. The fact that transit stops are still significant after controlling for these other destination types suggests that the stops themselves are likely an attractor for scooter trip destinations.”
With the results of the study, researchers hope cities can utilize the data to identify street segments with a high demand for scooter parking, as well as predict areas of redevelopment that will likely need the provision of scooter parking.