If you’re near campus, you'll likely see people buzzing around on bikes and scooters rented from a variety of rideshare programs. Just ten miles away, the City of Clarkson has yet to see an influx of “micromobility” options. An infrastructure of individually operated lightweight vehicles has clear benefits, such as getting people to and from stations and stops served by mass transit. A team of two Graduate Sustainability Fellows (Sol Haroon and Victoria Skinner) and an Undergraduate Sustainability Ambassador (Mark Leggiero) partnered with a Georgia Tech Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) to examine the transportation gap.
Clarkston, the most diverse square mile in America, has welcomed thousands of international refugees since the 1980s. “If these individuals can't reach shops, workplaces, schools, and community services with relative ease, it's going to be difficult for them to reach their full potential,” said Leggiero. The high-density community is ideal for micromobility solutions. “It may not seem like a big deal to walk from a bus stop to your home, but try doing that after a trip to the grocery store with a bunch of stuff in your hands,” said Haroon. The project, E.T. H.O.M.E. (Electric Trike/Bike - Human-centered Options in Mobility with Electrification), is funded by a grant from the Strategic Energy Institute and brings together faculty from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Serve-Learn-Sustain, along with students from the VIP class, Building for Equity and Sustainability. The goal of the project is to break down mobility barriers so individuals and communities can thrive. Skinner said, “It's an issue of equity.”
As the team set out to explore potential solutions, they focused on people, planet, and profit. The proposed rideshare system, which may consist predominantly of cargo bikes, is now being considered as the research team moves forward planning a pilot. Initial conversations with the City and County have been warmly received, leading to preliminary letters of intent for engagement.