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Study ranks Honolulu tops in micromobility potential

  • COURTESY INRIX

Honolulu is the top city in the nation that stands to benefit from shared bikes and scooters, according to a new study by INRIX, a firm that analyzes traffic data and mobility globally.

INRIX said micromobility devices, defined as shared bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters, can reduce traffic congestion while decreasing emissions and boosting the local economy, particularly for car trips less than three miles.

After an analysis of more than 50 million anonymous car trips, INRIX found that 48% of all car trips in the most congested metro areas of the U.S. are less than three miles — 20% are more than a mile, 16% between one to two miles, and 12% two to three miles.

“If a fraction of these vehicle trips were replaced with scooter and bike trips, American cities could reap significant benefits,” said INRIX in its findings.

Honolulu ranked high due to its high proportion of short-distance trips, minimal topographic variation and warm climate.

More than half — or 55% — of all car trips in Honolulu are less than three miles long, higher than the national average of 48%, according to INRIX. Of that total, 25% of car trips in Honolulu are less than a mile, 19% are one to two miles, and 12% two to three miles.

Honolulu’s top ranking beat out major cities including New York (No. 6) and San Francisco, Calif. (No. 10). New Orleans, La. (No. 2), followed by Nashville, Tenn. (No. 3), Chicago, Ill. (No. 4) and Charlotte, N.C. (No. 5).

At the bottom were Austin, Texas (No. 21), Orlando, Fla. (No. 22), Phoenix, Ariz. (No. 23), Baltimore, Md. (No. 24) and Minneapolis, Minn. (No. 25).

Honolulu is currently home two bikeshare systems. Bikeshare Hawaii launched Biki in June 2017, and now offers about 1,300 bikes at 130 self-service stops from downtown Honolulu to Waikiki. A dockless bikeshare system, Ride Sharee, launched last fall, on a much smaller scale.

Last year, San Francisco-based Lime also attempted to roll out e-scooters by placing them on Honolulu sidewalks, but city officials declared them illegally parked and impounded them. Lime suspended its service and departed Honolulu.

When asked if Lime would try to enter the Honolulu market again, spokesman Alex Youn said: “We’d certainly like to serve Honolulu. Scooters could improve commutes, the environment, and quality of life.”

According to INRIX, an e-scooter can travel up to 83 miles with the same amount of energy it takes an average gas vehicle to travel one mile.

However, INRIX transportation analyst Trevor Reed acknowledged the potential is only reachable with effective regulation, safety improvements and the development of infrastructure. In cities like San Diego, Calif., stricter regulations are now in place after an influx of e-scooters resulted in public backlash regarding pedestrian safety and the devices cluttering sidewalks and gutters.

The Honolulu City Council is currently considering bills that would establish fees for the use of public spaces by micromobility companies.

INRIX also ranked the top 5 cities for micromobility in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Top 10 Ranking of U.S. Cities by Micromobility Potential

1. Honolulu

2. New Orleans

3, Nashville

4. Chicago

5. Charlotte

6. New York

7. Portland

8. Pittsburgh

9. Los Angeles

10. San Francisco

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