ATLANTA — A multidisciplinary team led by the City of Atlanta’s Department of Transportation and Georgia State University’s Urban Studies Institute (USI) was recently announced as one of four statewide winners of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation’s (PIN) 2023 Community Research Grant. Up to $150,000 will be awarded to each of the winners.
The award is offered through the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, a competitive community research assistance program that provides funding and technical assistance to local governments throughout the state. “Cleantech” projects that use innovative technology to address environmental issues and promote sustainability were the focus for this year’s competition.
The city and university will use the grant to explore the current environment and potential for a multimodal system integrating walking, biking, scooters and other micromobility devices, public transit and motor vehicles. The goal is to increase safety, equity and sustainability, reduce carbon emissions, traffic congestion and pollution, and promote physical activity within the city.
“Safe, sustainable and equitable mobility is essential to inclusive urban development and economic prosperity,” said Ashley Finch, the project’s community partner and the shared micromobility coordinator for the city. “This research seeks solutions to what we call the ‘first/last mile’ gap public transit riders must bridge between transit stations and their destinations. The rise of micromobility aided by smart, clean transportation technologies such as shared e-bikes and e-scooters has the potential to make multimodal mobility and the ‘15-minute city’ a more viable vision for American cities.”
Finch is joined on the one-year project by research partners Fei Li (assistant professor in the USI and co-director of the Micromobility Lab), Deirdre Oakley (professor of sociology in the College of Arts & Sciences), Karen Johnston (associate director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth in the College of Law), Roby Greenwald (associate professor in the School of Public Health) and Nicole Lynch (associate professor and interim department chair of health professions at Perimeter College) at Georgia State University. They are collaborating with Rebecca Serna, executive director of Propel ATL, Chris Wyczalkowski, director of customer insights for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), and Chengbo Ai, an assistant professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“The database we create with this research will be a valuable resource for citizen stakeholders and the City of Atlanta in devising strategies in transportation and city planning, as well as a strong basis for future research,” said Li.
About the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation
Launched in 2020, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation is a public-private organization that was created to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the leader for innovation, opportunity and shared economic success. The partnership’s focus pillars of community research, workforce development, student engagement and economic opportunity are a powerful combination that provides technical and financial support to open innovation through collaboration. Since 2020, the partnership’s work has deployed over $3 million in capital and resources throughout the state and catalyzed 30-plus projects with local governments, universities, start-ups and nonprofits. The projects have created new businesses, increased access to financial and social capital and deployed more than 170 technologies. More information is available at www.pingeorgia.org.
Urban Studies Institute
Fei Li's research interests include transportation, affordable housing, segregation and inequalities, and the social impacts of technology. Her current work explores transportation as a social determinant of health (SDOH) and potential solutions to accessibility-related health disparities; the role of shared mobility and micromobility (personal mobility devices such as bikes, scooters, skateboards, etc.) in a safe, sustainable and equitable post-pandemic urban transportation system; socio-spatial isolation and segregation in individuals’ daily lives and activity spaces; and how mandatory inclusionary housing policies can help low-income households achieve home ownership and accumulate wealth.