To Reduce Traffic Congestion, Increase Local Micromobility

Research from Carnegie Mellon University shows how replacing short car trips with bike and scooter trips can lead to less congestion, but local areas need more micromobility infrastructure for this positive outcome.


Bikers and pedestrians
Bikers and pedestrians

It stands to reason that moving more car trips in urban areas to micromobility modes will reduce congestion. New research quantifies this reduction, offering another tool for policymakers and infrastructure planners.


A study from Carnegie Mellon University zeroes in on how micromobility — namely e-bikes — can affect congestion in Seattle, finding that if even 10 percent of short car trips during peak afternoon travel were replaced with micromobility, more than 4,800 car trips would not happen, decreasing vehicle miles traveled by more than 7,300 miles a day, a 2.76 reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.


“The big takeaways are that micromobility could decrease congestion, especially on highly congested corridors. But you’re going to need wide-scale bike lane deployment,” said Corey Harper, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and one of the authors of the study.



It’s estimated that about 50 percent of car trips in urban areas are three miles or less in length, making them a possible candidate for replacement with other modes.


Americans are not huge cyclists. Only about 1 percent of trips in the United States are taken by biking, according to the 2017 National Household Travel Survey. But one of the many side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was an increase in cycling in a number of metro areas. And micromobility advocates have been bullish about the growth potential for this transportation sector.


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