Panel Paper: Can’t Drive Today? an Analysis of the Impact of Driving Restrictions and Air-Quality on Bike-Share Ridership in Mexico City

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Building 3, Room 210 (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Rebeca de Buen Kalman and Benjamin Brunjes, University of Washington

The Mexico City government has tried to alleviate congestion and air quality problems through policies to reduce the circulation of cars and improve public transit. In addition to existing license plate restrictions in place since 1989, Mexico City has sought to integrate cycling infrastructure to augment public transit systems. In Mexico City, cycling infrastructure includes a public bikeshare system, ecobici, inaugurated in 2010.

Driving restrictions in Mexico City are doubled when ambient air pollution exceeds national standards, facilitating a natural experiment on the effectiveness of the bikeshare system as a component of metropolitan transportation infrastructure. This research analyzes the effect that the increased driving restrictions implemented on high pollution days have on rider behavior, taking advantage of a series of high-pollution days that took place between 2016-2017. The main research question is: how does ecobici ridership change when driving is restricted?

This research provides the first analysis of the effects of driving restrictions on the overall ridership of a bikeshare system, showing that bikeshare can be a critical partner in local transportation infrastructure. Results indicate that high pollution days exhibit similar bikeshare use to regular days for non-peak traffic hours but significantly increase ridership during peak traffic hours when travel demand is inelastic. Additionally, the analysis shows that bikeshare seems to be acting as a facilitator of modal integration, regardless of the stringency of driving restrictions. This paper is the first to focus on how a bikeshare system interacts with another transportation policy aimed to reduce emissions and private driving.

Full Paper: