According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, more
than half of the automobile trips we take in our cities are five miles
or less. Not surprisingly, we're driving solo most of the time. This
isn't just bad for the environment though. Parking in urban centers can
wreak havoc on our nerves. In the Bay Area, buses, light rail, and
heavy rail extend to most major destinations, but the short hop
between, say, your office and the nearest transit station can be a
challenge. To that end, the California Center for Innovative
Transportation (CCIT) has undertaken a CITRIS-supported effort to
improve Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) connectivity and access with
low-speed mobility devices.
What is the goal of this research project?
Novick: Our group is looking at ways to help people connect public
transit to their home or work. The idea grew out of our Carsharing
Research Project. We realized that not only could carsharing concepts
improve transit station access, but other lower-speed modes that have
even less impact on the environment could be an option as well.
What kinds of low-speed mobility devices are you studying?
We're initially looking at devices like the Segway Human Transporter,
electric bicycles, and regular bicycles. The electric bikes are nice
because you go a little faster and don't get as sweaty, but it's still
a bit of exercise.
How would the system work?
You would ride the BART train to the station nearest your work. There,
you'd show your ID at a kiosk in the station where your name would be
checked against a list of program participants who have completed
training on the devices. You'd then hop on one of them and ride the one
to four miles to work. During the day, other employees could sign up to
share the device to get to lunch appointments or meetings that are
nearby but too far a walk. You'd have a standing reservation to take
the mobility device back to the BART station at the end of the day.
After you dropped it off, you'd get on the next train to go home.
Who would pay for all of this?
We expect participating businesses to pay a nominal monthly fee, mainly
to offset the cost of the vendor at the transit station. Perhaps they'd
provide it as an employee benefit to encourage alternative forms of
What stage is the project at right now?
We've identified the Pleasant Hill BART station as the location of our
pilot demonstration. We completed safety studies and conducted
interviews with various government officials, businesses that may sign
up to participate, and members of the community. Hopefully, the actual
pilot program will begin this summer.
For more information:
Linda Novick's home page
Innovative Mobility Research Group