City of Reno: Evaluation of electric scooter pilot program (route patterns, transportation infrastructure & safety)

Project title

Evaluation of Electric Scooter Pilot Program – Route Patterns, Transportation Infrastructure & Safety

Research question

How do electric scooter users navigate through the City of Reno and region and what is the relationship to bicycle infrastructure and safety outcomes?

Background

In the State of Nevada, the transportation sector generates 35% of greenhouse gas emissions, representing the largest percentage by sector. Reno is a car-dependent city. Most commute-to-work trips and errands require a car, which contributes to the relatively high share of greenhouse gas emission in the region that result from passenger vehicle use (25%).

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) is investing in transportation infrastructure to provide residents with more transportation choices. Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure will encourage people travel by modes other than personally-owned passenger vehicles. RTC has built 230 miles of on-street bike facilities and 86 miles of off-street facilities in Reno. The comprehensive Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan identifies and prioritizes 339 additional miles of sidewalk and 116 miles of bicycle facilities to be constructed by 2040.

The City of Reno adopted its first Sustainability & Climate Action Plan, which calls for a 28% reduction in climate pollution by 2025 and 40% by 2030. Expanding use of shared, micromobility alternatives is one of the actions identified to transition to low-carbon commutes. The city implemented an electric scooter pilot program to test and evaluate use of these devices as a micromobility solution, and whether electric scooter use can replace single-occupant vehicle use for some trips.

This research project will assess 1) how users of electric scooters are navigating and traveling through the city and region, and 2) how observed scooter trip routes correspond with existing transportation infrastructure (such as bicycle lanes); and 3) run models to see if the data suggests a relationship between the type of infrastructure in place and routes taken. The project will also help illustrate and identify gaps in infrastructure network, compare routes to planned bicycle infrastructure, help with prioritization of future investments, and recommend changes in prioritization based on data collected through the pilot program.

In addition, the project will also gather data on locations of accidents and injuries reported and surveyed. These data can be used to identify areas of the city with high incidents of accidents, and how they correspond with other considerations, such as: time of accident, age of user, and gender of user. These data will be compared to similar data on accidents that involved bicyclists and pedestrians. Findings from this study can be used to recommended areas to evaluate for infrastructure changes and interventions to improve safety.

The city would like to gain an understanding of how electric scooters will help the city and RTC to achieve goals for establishing a more safe, sustainable and equitable transportation system.

Deliverables

Geography faculty member Scott Kelley is interested in serving as mentor for this project. The electric scooter vendor captures data from users and rides. Access to the anonymized data will be provided for analysis. Accident data from the Reno Police Department and other agencies will also be provided. Key components of the assessment include:

  • Geographic evaluation of the routes taken and destinations with the greatest usage (pickup and drop-off destinations).
  • Evaluate the nature of commonly-chosen routes and existing transportation infrastructure, such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, or roadways.
  • Evaluate routes taken and compare to RTC Washoe planned infrastructure investments in its 5-year plan - especially bicycle lanes – to help prioritize investments.
  • Evaluate gaps in transportation infrastructure network for scooter users.
  • Recommend changes in planned bicycle infrastructure projects and prioritization for planned investments based on routes and gap analysis.
  • Collaborate with others to evaluate routes and destinations related to transit and transportation infrastructure through proximity of destinations to transit stops and stations. Evaluate the length of trips that begin or terminate near transit stations. Estimate the percentage of trips used to complete the “first mile” or “last mile” of transit.
  • Evaluate data on the location and nature of reported accidents and injuries to identify areas of concern.
  • Compare accident data to pedestrian and bicycle accidents to evaluate whether the incidence of events are similar, and whether there are common areas of concern.

You will deliver a report of the findings, maps, and GIS datasets.

Suggested skills

Research, writing, analysis, GIS

Agency representative

Lynne Barker
barkerl@reno.gov
(775) 334-2288