ATLANTA—Georgia State University’s Urban Studies Institute recently launched the Micro-mobility Lab, an interdisciplinary research hub created to foster the critical examination of micro-scale transportation policy interventions in metropolitan regions, inform policy and provide technical assistance.
It is one of the first of its kind in the U.S.
“This is a very timely initiative, especially relevant to cities such as Atlanta,” says Jan Nijman, director of the Urban Studies Institute. “Even before the pandemic, many urban folks started to reconsider their mobility options, particularly over relatively short distances. The pandemic has intensified the trend. Cars and public transit often are less than ideal, so the alternatives – including walking, bicycling and scooter – have gained traction.
“We see it in cities around the world, but especially in cities such as Atlanta where densification is on the rise but short distance-public transit lags behind. Many local governments are still trying to wrap their heads around the opportunities and challenges of micro-mobility. This new lab is wonderfully positioned to help frame effective policy responses.”
Faculty and students affiliated with the lab will focus on the social, economic, legal, and policy impacts of micro-mobility technologies on urban transportation, its provision, and issues surrounding access, safety and equity. They will also facilitate community dialogue and engagement around micro-mobility. One of its first research projects, Equitable Mobility in the Pandemic Age, has received a Quick Response Award from the National Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Atlanta Regional Commission, MARTA, MARTA Army and Atlanta Department of Transportation have affiliated with the new lab as community partners in research. The Urban Studies Institute will manage the research along with faculty and students from Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, College of Law, College of Arts & Sciences and the College of the Arts.
Deirdre Oakley and Chris Wyczalkowski, both instrumental in opening the micro-mobility lab, led a studio course at Georgia State during the Spring 2020 semester that enabled students to participate in qualitative data collection and the development of data-driven solutions regarding micro-mobility policy for cities.