Helping the City of Seattle plan for new mobility.


New Mobility Survey, Seattle Department of Transportation | 2019-2021

As the transportation landscape shifts in Seattle, it is important for SDOT to understand local use of new mobility options such as Transportation Network Companies (e.g., Uber and Lyft) and shared cars, bikes, and scooters. PRR designed and implemented a mixed-methods study to understand who in the Seattle metropolitan area uses new mobility options – and how, when, where, and why. The online survey reached residents of Seattle and the surrounding areas using address-based random sampling and reached recent or potential tourists to the area using an online panel. The in-depth interviews reached people who speak Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese. PRR also conducted focused outreach in Tagalog. PRR applied an equity lens to the study design, recruitment, and implementation. We transcreated the screener survey and interview guide, working closely with language specialists to ensure all materials were tailored to the respective community. We also developed customized outreach plans for each language community. Study results will enable SDOT to help people move safely and efficiently throughout Seattle.

A rack of green rental bikes lined up on a sidewalk.


Most survey respondents used new mobility options within the past year. They most commonly choose new mobility travel options for recreational activities, to avoid finding or paying for parking, or to avoid a bad experience (e.g., heavy rain or lengthy transit trip.) Respondents said the most important things to change about new mobility options were traffic impacts of ride hail and car share, cost to low-income users, and road safety. When asked what new mobility policies SDOT should focus on, respondents prioritized availability throughout the city, improving safety, and equitable pricing.

New mobility options addressed some mobility gaps among interview participants, but was no replacement for the affordability, availability, and flexibility offered by personal vehicles or transit. Interview participants typically chose new mobility options when they faced limited options. For example, they tended to use ride hail services if they needed to travel at a time buses did not run or if they needed to travel to/from a transit stop. Bike share also helped participants get to and from public transit (the first and last mile problem). Finally, interview participants with limited English proficiency faced additional challenges getting around, but especially using new mobility options (e.g., instructions on how to use these services are often not available in their preferred language).

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