A study published last week in the scientific journal Nature Energy examined the impact on traffic and travel times in a city when micro-mobility options such as electric scooters and e-bikes are banned. The results documented exactly how much traffic has increased as a result of people switching back to private cars instead of smaller, more urban-friendly vehicles. Electrek reports: The study, titled “Effects of Micromobility on Car Travel with Evidence from a Natural Experiment and Geozoning Policy,” was conducted using data collected in Atlanta. The study was made possible by the city’s sudden ban on shared micromobility devices at night. This ban provided a unique opportunity to compare traffic levels and travel times before and after the policy change. The ban was imposed on August 9, 2019 and restricted the use of shared electric bicycles and electric scooters in the city from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. The authors of the study used high-resolution data from June 25, 2019 to September 22. , 2019, from Uber Movement to measure changes in evening travel times before and after the policy was implemented. This created an analysis window of 45 days with and without shared use of e-bikes and electric scooters at night.
The study found that, on average, evening car travel times in Atlanta increased by 9.9-10.7% following the ban on shared micromobility. For the average commuter in Atlanta, that means an extra 2-5 minutes on their evening commute. The authors also concluded that the impact on travel times is likely to be greater in other cities across the country. According to the study, “based on an estimated US average travel time of 27.6 minutes in 2019, our natural experiment results indicate a 17.4% increase in travel time across the country.”
The study went on to look at the economic impact of this additional congestion and increased travel time. […] The economic impact on the city of Atlanta was estimated at US$4.9 million. The study estimates that this impact at the national level could be in the range of US$408 million to US$573 million. Interestingly, all of the study data comes before the COVID-19 pandemic, which played an important role in promoting the use of shared micromobility. A similar study conducted today could reveal an even greater impact on congestion, travel times and the economic impact on cities.