[00:00:00] Announcer: The following research is part of the National Institute for Congestion Reduction funded by the United States Department of Transportation through the University Transportation Center program. Learn more at www.nicr.usf.edu.
[00:00:31] Wayne Garcia: Welcome to Out of My Lane, a podcast of the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida in Tampa. I'm Wayne Garcia, your host. This podcast is devoted to making your ability to get from point A to point B just a little bit easier. And we do that by talking to the folks who spend all of their working time trying to come up with answers to that complex transportation puzzle.
[00:00:59] Wayne Garcia: This episode is titled, Micro Mobility. our guest today is Jason Jackman. He is from the USF CUTR and we're going to talk about his work as part of the National Institute for Congestion Reduction or NICR, which is administered right here at the University of South Florida at the Center for Urban Transportation Research. Jason is a senior research associate with USF, and he works in traffic operations and safety, division there. He's a USF graduate, Go Bulls, with a Master's in Public Administration and a BA in technical and professional writing. He's an expert in pedestrian and bicycle safety, outreach, education, policy analysis, communications and program management. He's got quite a resume. He is a league cycling instructor with the League of America Bicyclists, board member with Bike Florida and the faculty advisor for the Bicycle Club here at USF. Jason, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for coming.
[00:02:06] Jason Jackman: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
[00:02:08] Wayne Garcia: So, we like to start off every episode with asking our guests, "Hey, what's your daily commute like when you do commute?" because some of us are still hybrid and working a little bit from home and working a little bit from the office. When you do commute, what is that like?
[00:02:21] Jason Jackman: It's, it changes. It depends which day. I was thinking about this biking home from work the other day what my footprint has been. To USF the past 20 years, when I was an undergrad, I would bike and bike to school, bike back to school, and my main reason for biking back then is because I, A, I didn't want to pay for parking, and B I wanted to save gas even though it was very minimal to what today's standards are. Today, my commute is a lot different. I have three kids and I always have someone carpooling with me. One of my kids goes to the daycare on campus actually, which is very convenient.
[00:03:03] Wayne Garcia: Nice.
[00:03:04] Jason Jackman: And there are days when I can commute by bike when I'm not driving him to daycare, and that's been going on for the past 12 years.
[00:03:12] Jason Jackman: So, I've been, I have had a constant companion in the car for carpooling wherever I'm going. But I've always found a way to get to University of South Florida by other modes, whether it's transit the HART bus station near, near where I live riding my bike, even on scooter. So, it's funny because I'll drive to work sometimes, I'll have my e-scooter in my office and ride over to whichever department I need to get to by e-scooter. Walking's good too, but I remember there's just, that's just my nature where I'll, I'll just, you know, going on an adventure. For example, when I was an undergrad, I would on, not only bike, but I would also bike to the park and ride lots on campus and take the Bull Runner to my classes.
[00:04:06] Jason Jackman: Doesn't make any sense because I could probably get there by bike, but yeah...
[00:04:09] Wayne Garcia: You take the bike directly there.
[00:04:10] Jason Jackman: Exactly, exactly. But in my mind, I was like I'm taking transit, too." And it's funny because it's like, you're exactly right. I could walk there too, straight across campus. But I just enjoyed it. I just enjoyed the adventure and I had the time before class. I had the time, not after class, I had to rush home to get to work, but yeah. I multimodal getting to campus always. And that's just the way it's been for me.
[00:04:35] Wayne Garcia: And, you know, it's, it's so interesting and, and, and it's a little daunting and I know a lot of the work that y'all do with your outreach and, and the research projects is to try to get people more familiar with and comfortable with all of the different modes so they're not thinking that my only choice and, and for many people it is, but you know. , that their only choice is to sit in traffic in an automobile all by themselves. so let's start with the, you know, our topic is micro mobility. What does that encompass?
[00:05:10] Jason Jackman: Yeah. Micro mobility is just the idea of e-scooters, bikes, bike sharing. You've seen the one-wheel scooters too. The hoverboards. Anything smaller than a motor vehicle. In my book considered micro mobility and the thought of, "Hey, how can we get people out of the car and using these other modes of transportation as, you know, a way to get to places from A to B." So that's the idea of micro mobility to me where you do have to think about, well, they're out of a car. How are we going to get there, by these other vehicles?
[00:05:47] Wayne Garcia: So, I know some of the people listening are going to say, you know, those are great fun toys. I really love 'me. But like, do they really have an impact on transportation and the transportation system? But they do, right? I mean, it, it's, they're not only part of the puzzle, but it, it's something you have to plan for. In other words, if you want more people to take a bike to work or to school, you have to have the infrastructure for that. So how does that all come together in terms of transportation research?
[00:06:16] Jason Jackman: I think it's, especially with micro mobility. You know, even riding a bike, it's, it's somewhat of a trend. You're more likely to do it if you see more people doing it as, as opposed to just one person. You, you know, you've been in your car, and you see that one person riding go, "Oh, there's that one person I see every day." Well, what happens if it's 10 or 15 people? It becomes more of this, "Hey, I, maybe I should do that."
[00:06:42] Jason Jackman: And I definitely would attest to that. I think there's a little bit of that encouragement subconsciously going on in your brain where you want to try something else besides being in a car, being behind a wheel or being a passenger. But I do think, especially with maybe the next generation, maybe they're, they're looking at that as, I can do that. I can get out of a car, or I don't need a car. I'd rather have my phone. I'd rather have a bike and a phone. That's it. That's all I need. I can see that happening. I, I see that as a big change too. And, and micro mobility does play a big part because it does look cool and, you know, especially e-scooters, e-bikes. It's fun. Yeah.
[00:07:19] Wayne Garcia: I love that idea. And I see 'em all over and I realize, yeah, there are people, I see them and they're clearly not just either in Ybor or downtown on a Friday or Saturday night, but they're, they're using them to get somewhere, whether it's shopping for food or whether it's, me going to work or, or any of those kind of things.
[00:07:39] Wayne Garcia: How do you put micro mobility into that big mix? Is there a way to quantify it? Is there a healthy mix or is it situational on like, where we live?
[00:07:49] Jason Jackman: Oh, yeah. I, I think there's somewhat of a healthy. of using the different modes of transportation, but it's, it could be situational, it could be financial, you know, financially, are you going to rent an e-bike or an e-scooter every day to get to work? Or he's just going to buy one and maybe cut that cost and realize, "Hey, this is my main mode of transportation and maybe not driving a car or owning a car." So, it's all of the above. I think it just depends where you're at in life, what your options are. And one thing I, I love promoting not only to my family, because I have two older girls who are love riding their bike, but, and I've talked to them about this a long time ago. Know your options. Know your options. Riding a bike, driving a car, you got to get there. So, you got to remember, you gotta find a way eventually.
[00:08:41] Wayne Garcia: So how much education and outreach has to go into that change because there's a whole component of planning and for you need bike lanes and you need safe sidewalks to walk and those kinds of things. But leaving that aside for now, behaviorally, I know a couple years back you were involved with Safe Routes to School or Roots to School. Take your choice out there. and looking at, you know, getting kids to school in a safer way and maybe knocking down that really long line of people in their cars waiting to pick up, you know, Johnny or Jill.
[00:09:17] Wayne Garcia: How did that program go?
[00:09:19] Jason Jackman: Yeah, well, first of all, I would say, I would call it Safe Routes to School. I think it's a northern thing to call it roots. I, that just drives me crazy. But that’s, you know, those are our future commuters. And I worked on a program called Safe Routes to School with the local school districts in Tampa and, it was getting kids and families outta the car and walking and biking to school if they lived within that two-mile radius of the school. Where the infrastructure's there, everything's, you know, running smoothly and as far as infrastructure, and you can promote walking and biking as a great option to get to school and reduce that car line, promoting health and safety all the same time. Providing that next, again, that next generation with active transportation, getting something to think about again, our future commuters, as far as, you know, micro mobility and the future of promoting this and, and, and outreach. It does market itself in a way with, you know, you have the urban, like downtown Tampa where they have bike share and e-scooters.
[00:10:23] Jason Jackman: it does kind of market itself and it becomes like this, this really fun thing to do. And with transportation and safety, there's this thing called safety in numbers. Where, you know, people may feel more vulnerable riding on the road by themselves, but when you're riding in a group, when there's more people out, drivers are more aware.
[00:10:41] Jason Jackman: And I think that has a lot to do with the success of the e-scooter programs nationwide because people see that it looks fun, they're kind of fast, but it’s a different thing. It's a dearly different transportation mode and everybody's really excited about it. There's a big, big, buzz.
[00:11:00] Wayne Garcia: Yeah. And it, and there's just this big generational shift, even, you know, starting, with the start of millennials down through now Gen Z and whatever gen we're in right now.
[00:11:13] Wayne Garcia: This total familiarity and use of, you know, scooter sharing, ride sharing, Ubers, Lyfts, whatever. how much of that is gonna account for trips on the road. Like is there a way to quantify, is it, is it like, have we seen data where that's growing, it's actually increasing, or is the car still king of the road?
[00:11:40] Jason Jackman: I guess it depends which city you live in as far as motor vehicles concerned and King of the road. Transit is the best option when it comes to reducing vehicles driven on the road. you know, and that's one thing. We try to look at, as, you know, safety, advocates and multimodal advocates, I guess is, "Hey, get on the transit. It's right there." you're going to save money, don't pay for, maybe insurance and gas. It's, it's a good option. but as far as like the ride shares, I did see a recent study where, there, there are more cars on the road because of rideshare. but un but there's, there's, there's some downsides and there's upsides to it where less people are on the roads and maybe, taking, a ride share home if, if they've gone to a bar or something.
[00:12:34] Jason Jackman: It's, it's providing, easier options for people who may have made, made bad decisions, to get home after being inebriated. I don't know.
[00:12:44] Wayne Garcia: Yeah. And you know, I was thinking, well, you know, that's a nice side benefit that doesn't really deal with transportation, but it does because if you wreck your car driving home drunk you, you're going to mess up the transportation system.
[00:12:55] Wayne Garcia: We're trying to, you know, through all of these things we're talking about and y'all are researching, you know, we're trying to find both safety and efficiency, you know, sort of to, to find the maximum level of, of both of those in the way that we move our bodies around.
[00:13:10] Jason Jackman: Yeah. And everything is online in the cloud and, when it comes to our transportation system, it's so connected, so well connected that everything's planned out for you.
[00:13:23] Jason Jackman: You, it, you don't have to go far. You don't have to go to the yellow pages anymore and find a taxi. You don't, you, you can go to your phone, and you can download an app and it's there. You can find a, an e-scooter or bike share right on your app. You can connect with friends on your app. It's, everything's a lot easier. You don't have to go to a payphone anymore. "Hey, I need a ride home." there's a program actually called an Emergency Ride Home. I'm not sure if you're familiar with it, but it’s, basically if you have different commuting options, to work or school, emergency ride home will provide you, a ride home in the case of emergency.
[00:13:59] Jason Jackman: So, if you have, if you bike every day and you need to get home for an emergency, there’s emergency ride home program for her. So that's a local program too. There's, there's so many different options, but that's just one thing that, shift that culture.
[00:14:13] Wayne Garcia: Help encourage it.
[00:14:14] Jason Jackman: Yeah.
[00:14:14] Wayne Garcia: So, and so most recently you've been working on, a program that is part of the NICR grants and, that is, TB-CAT. Tell us, tell us about TB-CAT. What is that? What that Yeah.
[00:14:27] Jason Jackman: TB-CAT, Tampa Bay Citizens Academy on Transportation. TB-CAT had a really nice spin to it. kind of like that Tiger King, the TB CATS but... but yeah, we, it was basically a program, set to, encourage and educate citizens on, on transportation as a whole, whether it's how transportation systems are funded, especially locally in the Tampa area, how they're funded, how they're planned, how they forecast the planning for transportation, you name it, advocacy.
[00:15:01] Jason Jackman: There's so many segments we had and, and we had about 28 students in the class each week. It was an eight-week course. They came back each and every week to, listen to our guest speakers that we'd have, excellent speakers. We had the top speakers, in the transportation field. So, I was kind of giddy about it too.
[00:15:23] Jason Jackman: I was like, "Whoa, we got this person. This is awesome." You know, So I was excited about it too. You know, one of the responses or many of the responses we got were this, this course really helped me learn about how the transportation systems set up, how everything works because you, you don't get this in, in the general public a lot of the times.
[00:15:43] Jason Jackman: so we, we provided through the TB CAT program, kind of a, a, a platform where they can just, you know, citizens can listen and learn and ask questions. That was the big part. Like, we want to ask questions. Okay. To ask questions. This, here are the experts. so, it was a good opportunity for that. we're looking at doing, a phase two actually coming up.
[00:16:06] Jason Jackman: So, finding new citizens to participate and, again, it's very exciting program for that. And, you know, we talked about the different transportation technologies that are out there. we had a transit segment, so you name it, it, it really encompassed all transportation and, provided a lot of answers for the public
[00:16:24] Wayne Garcia: Why is it important that the taxpaying public especially, you know, understands, transportation? I guess in the old days it seemed like a simple thing to understand, you know, if there's a road or, but we had bikes. I walked to school as a kid. of course, that's, you know, long ago. That level of lack of understanding what does that create as a hurdle to trying to fix our transportation systems?
[00:16:48] Jason Jackman: One of the issues I, I've found growing up in the Tampa Bay area is that I did rely on bikes growing up, going, you know, riding places, but I never experienced transit. Never. I, I grew up in the Northdale area, didn't have transit over there. So, when you, when you get older and you're like, "Well, I've never ridden a bus before." You're like, "Okay, I want to see what that's about." And a lot of times it was very suburban. That's where I grew up in the suburbs. So, you know, that's you, you drive everywhere. I was fortunate to have some connectivity with my neighborhoods and, and local shops, so I'd bike everywhere. I was always on my bike.
[00:17:27] Jason Jackman: I think having those different transportation options are necessary and very needed in all our communities. And one thing that the TB CAT course provides is, just that knowledge, that awareness of what's out there and how, how local municipalities, how city officials, respond to the public's questions on, on, hey, how does transportation work?
[00:17:50] Jason Jackman: what are we doing in our community? There was a question about a sidewalk gap, or, there was a lot of good discussion on that and, and what has to go in place to get a, a sidewalk installed, and that's the information that you don't typically hear, on the public side.
[00:18:05] Wayne Garcia: Yeah, my, I spent a lot of my career sitting through city council meetings, county commission meetings, and, and talking to capital improvements projects and, department heads and so forth and, it's amazing the amount of work that has to go into, you know, fixing even the smallest problem, even a short gap in a sidewalk on the way to a school.
[00:18:26] Wayne Garcia: And this happens all the time, especially in lower income neighborhoods that, maybe didn't for some years get their share of the pie of, of those construction dollars. That makes it impossible or very dangerous for children to walk, even with parental supervision to school. And so, there's a lot of moving pieces of this.
[00:18:53] Wayne Garcia: What do you, when we look at that micro mobility piece and all of these, things, what, what kind of feedback do you get from people using them from transportation advocates and, and from your citizens, attendees, what are they saying back about their acceptance of these micro mobile sources?
[00:19:19] Jason Jackman: Well, one thing I'll, I'll jump into is the advocacy part. TBCAT provided a segment for our eight weeks of the course on advocacy. And you know, if you do have issues with transportation or you do have questions or you do want to get more involved, you, you, it's not going to be done just by anyone. Everyone has to get involved.
[00:19:43] Jason Jackman: Everyone has to be an advocate, especially if you're passionate about it. And. I think we had a, a really good presenters on advocacy and, it really taught the, citizens in the, in the class that it's important to go to public meetings. It's important to, if you have a question, go to these public meetings and, and let your voice be heard.
[00:20:02] Jason Jackman: that's a big part of it now. As far as concerns for maybe, any other transportation like micro mobility. I did work on a, a project, for an e-scooter evaluation and, and we did in, surveys for users and non-users. So it varied as far as those responses and, you know, the users of micro mobility or e-scooters would, feel like, you know, what was safe was, you know, different is a different perspective for what was unsafe for non-users.
[00:20:34] Jason Jackman: if you're, if you have an experience, maybe e-scooter or a bike share program, you have a different perspective on that basically than a, than opposed, non-user.
[00:20:44] Wayne Garcia: Yeah. So, what's next in the world of micro mobility? What, what, what do we need to figure out? What do we need to research more? What's on the horizon for you and, and the others at CUTR who are concerned with all of these different forms of transportation that we call micromobility.
[00:21:00] Jason Jackman: I think what's next for micro mobility a look at the infrastructure is, especially in the urban setting. the equity portion of it, you know, how can we disperse and, and place these e-scooter sharing programs everywhere we can, for all users. but I would say the infrastructure part is a, is a big key to micro mobility.
[00:21:23] Jason Jackman: you know, as we mentioned before that, what are some, some people may have issues with e-scooters and that's true. I mean, there's, there's a lot of 'em. And sometimes the writing on the sidewalks and maybe, maybe there's some new policies and ordinances where you can't ride on the sidewalks anymore and you have to ride in the, in the bike lane.
[00:21:42] Jason Jackman: So, I think that's the future in providing maybe micro mobility specific infrastructure. You know, as opposed to just having it just a bike infrastructure, maybe there's a, a side infrastructure for just micro mobility or just that'll accommodate micro mobility. So, I think, I think cities are looking into that, that the urban districts are looking into that and how they can accommodate micro mobility a little more.
[00:22:06] Wayne Garcia: Yeah, the technological advances always outpace the regulations for them. And so, you know, anytime something like that's adopted, like the scooter thing, there was huge problems with people, you know, getting run off of sidewalks and hit and so forth and so on. and, and again, just demonstrating how complex all the moving pieces of a transportation system are, because it's not just the vehicle, if we want to call it that.
[00:22:35] Jason Jackman: Yeah.
[00:22:35] Wayne Garcia: It's all these other pieces. so it, it, at the end of the day, how, how long do you think it is, in Tampa Bay? Let's talk about Tampa Bay.
[00:22:47] Jason Jackman: Okay.
[00:22:47] Wayne Garcia: Specifically, how. Are we away from having a, you know, sort of a really fully realized, micro mobile society here,, where you can safely bike and safely scooter and safely walk on a sidewalk and go to school and if appropriate, and you live nearby work?
[00:23:07] Wayne Garcia: are we talking a long time out? Are we talking 10 years out?
[00:23:13] Jason Jackman: Wow. I will start with saying that the, the TB-CAT program, it was really, we had a really good, segment, a field trip segment. We, we all took a field trip to downtown Tampa. So, this is, about a year and a half into the pandemic. And we we're, we're like, "Okay, can we all meet now? Is this, okay?" And we all met downtown Tampa, and I hadn't been there in a year and a half. If you haven't been there in a year and a half, and this was about 2021 a lot has changed. You know, you had Water Street and it's a grided pattern with the downtown, it’s not so much, "Hey, let's make a left here and I think there's a right here and we can get to the interstate here."
[00:24:01] Jason Jackman: It was, it's very grided area where you have intersections, you have these blocks where you can walk, and skyscrapers now all over the place, and you're like, "Which city am I in?"
[00:24:14] Wayne Garcia: That's how fast we've grown if you don't live in the Tampa Bay area.
[00:24:17] Jason Jackman: And, and the, the great thing is that it is now suitable for all modes of transportation for micro mobility. Not that it wasn't before, but now it just makes more sense. You know, you have the cycle track that's downtown. you have better crosswalks, you have, larger, larger inter, not larger intersections, but larger, route ball bouts where it's a larger area for pedestrians to stand before they cross, cross the street.
[00:24:47] Jason Jackman: And it's actually safer that way. So, cars making right hand turns, don’t have exactly, It's more pedestrian friendly. And, and as far as like the Tampa Bay area as a whole, I mean, it depends where you, where you live. I know when I was working on the Safe Routes of School program, I. I try to reach every neighborhood in, in the Tampa Bay area.
[00:25:09] Jason Jackman: You know, every area is different. It's diverse. everyone has their own issues with transportation, especially with the infrastructure, but, I, I really think changes are on the way. They're, they're looking for, bike shares within neighborhoods or, you know, e scuts within neighborhoods. But like I said, that, that market's shifting a little bit, as, as opposed to the maybe e you know, the sharing programs to the personally owned programs where I, I own a personal, e-scooter and I use it all the time around the neighborhood if I need to go somewhere really quick, you know, it's quicker than a bicycle believe or not , but I, I do think the dynamics shifting.
[00:25:49] Jason Jackman: our, our city and county and state are working together to, really improve multi a multimodal system. so, we're going to see improvements in transit. You know, bike bicycle facilities, pedestrian facilities, and really think about reducing those, their fatalities, for the vulnerable road users, especially vulnerable road users, reducing fatalities and serious injuries.
[00:26:16] Jason Jackman: So, there's a big push for that, because I think, you know, in my field, in the safety and outreach, it’s, it's important. It's important to tell the public, "Hey, we're making these changes." So, we're a big, we're kind of like this ecosystem of, change.
[00:26:31] Wayne Garcia: Mm-hmm.
[00:26:32] Jason Jackman: You know, within the transportation world.
[00:26:34] Wayne Garcia: So, if you’re, living here in the Tampa Bay area, great examples of sort of this micro mobility world, if you really want to see them downtown, St. Pete. Of course, there's a lot of things going on, but I would say go down to downtown Tampa's River Walk and take a look at how that's being used by lots of different types of mobility devices and as well as legs. Yeah. and four legs in some cases, if you're a dog person, there's actually two or three dog parks along the way on the river walk.
[00:27:06] Jason Jackman: Yeah.
[00:27:06] Wayne Garcia: And I know this because of course I'm a dog person. the other thing is, we’ll end today with a challenge to everybody, and I know you'll agree with me. Take a bus in the area if you haven't, if you haven't used a mass transit in the Tampa Bay area. there’s, the Pinellas, system is extensive through the entire county over there, and of course Heartline in Hillsborough County.
[00:27:32] Wayne Garcia: but I remember riding the bus back last time gas was $4 a gallon and I said, "Hey, I'll take the bus up to campus." You. It's not, for everyone. If you need to get somewhere in five minutes, obviously that's not going to work for you. But, it’s a, it's a heck of an experience. It's, it's interesting, you get to see the world a way that you don't get to see just out the windows because you're not driving, you're not paying attention, and they're really clean and well-run buses. I miss some of the routes that no longer exist because they used to go right up the end of my street in South Tampa. But, that will be our challenge to you all today as the biggest bang for the buck.
[00:28:15] Wayne Garcia: But secondarily, as Jason Jackman from CUTR has told us, think about those micro mobility options as well. Jason, thank you for joining us today.
[00:28:26] Jason Jackman: Thank you so much. This is awesome.
[00:28:29] Wayne Garcia: And that's it for this episode of Out of My Lane, which, was brought to you by the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research through its, participation in the National Institute for Congestion Reduction. We call it NICR. We'll see you next episode.
[00:28:58] Announcer: The National Institute for Congestion Reduction, NICR is a transportation research center focused on innovative congestion strategies. The center composed of researchers from the University of South Florida, the University of California, Berkeley, Texas A & M University, and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. And funded by the United States Department of Transportation. For more information, please visit www.nicr.usf.edu.