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Ecotrixi CDMX!

Launching an e-bicitaxi pilot in transit deserts, we will learn the designs, systems and policies needed to lead the e-assist shift by 2024!

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Mototaxis, golfitaxis, bicitaxis and other forms of irregular and fragile mobility devices serve a key role in moving people and their goods across CDMX’s small towns inside large delegations. These informal mobility devices enable critical mobility for women, the elderly and people with disabilities, allowing them to connect daily with community assets, such as parks, clinics and markets. Widespread use of low or zero-emissions affordable devices is positive as they combat pollution, road congestion and financial scarcity. It is important that passengers are able to rely on safe, comfortable and disability accessible devices, which is often not the case today.

We seek to design an effective sustainable solution for the people who rely on these irregular devices.  A sociological survey was developed and conducted to test demographic data during the week of October 13, 2019 in Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl. Information from more than two hundred people was sought on questions such as age, cellphone ownership, trust in the safety of irregular mobility devices, and the viability of using an app to request any of these services.

Our results confirmed women of working age are heavy users of bicitaxis. Women disagreed with the idea of using an app, considering it highly impractical because it would force them to own a smartphone, pay extra for data, and wait for a device to come to them, which would be a slower and pricier process than simply flagging one down on the street as they now do. While men stated they thought bicitaxis were safe and an app would be useful, they also stated they do not use those devices, so their views were not based on a wealth of personal experiences. In terms of current design drawbacks, respondents said they felt most unprotected from rain and pollution. User risk perception highlighted road safety as a primary concern, followed by accidents, robbery or sexual assault. Despite not being part of the survey, nearly a third of respondents also mentioned drivers being under influence of drugs and drivers being untrained. Considering these answers were not sought yet mentioned so frequently, we expect that these threats occur regularly.

We believe technology and systems to increase safety and comfort should be built into future e-bicitaxis and supporting programs. However, our survey results indicate that relying on our passengers to have mobile data or use smartphones is not viable since a lot of current users, especially women, do not see value in using them to book these mobility devices.

Questions of ecological, social and financial sustainability extend beyond just passengers’ complex needs. As Luis David Berrones-Sanz noted in his research on motorcycle taxi drivers in Tláhuac, there has been scant research on these devices, and their corrosive effect on drivers’ health and wellbeing. Berrones-Sanz found that drivers work long hours, 11 to 12 on average, without healthcare, all the while being exposed to excessive pollution, violence, noise and musculoskeletal problems. Our research found the current system is supported by shop owners who sell carriages and parts as well as metalsmiths who build and cover the carriages; these workers‘ dependents rely on their income. This system is not ecologically, socially and financially sustainable and needs positive change.

In June 2019, The CDMX Government released their “Plan de Reducción de Emisiones del Sector Movilidad.” As part of their plan affecting mototaxis, the City has committed to convert 100% of mototaxis to electric power by 2024, and offer funding to ease this transformation. If a fleet of sustainable e-assisted trikes is to replace the current mass of irregular vehicles, it is critical this transition does not disenfranchise the drivers, shopkeepers, workmen and their dependents in the process.

Our team is well aware that the physics of moving people and goods on a cycle-like vehicle requires intensive engineering. Weight distribution, automotive-style suspension systems, and durable electric motors and drivetrain technology are crucial to making these vehicles operate safely. Evidence of this can be found in the development of electric-assist mobility devices on the market today from companies such as Velove, GLEAM, Urban Arrow, Rytle, Van Raam, Xcyc, and others. Their devices engineered for daily, heavy-duty cargo movement with ease of serviceability took several years of development. Full development of a cargo device catered to this unique market, would require capital, engineering, and local data that exceeds our set pilot budget and timeframe. Instead, we are focused on employing proven devices to collect detailed demographic, use and maintenance data we can use in future stages of development.

Our Ecotrixi CDMX! pilot will aid an equitable transformation by showcasing how an affordable and robust e-assist bicitaxi design  supported by regulations and incentives can enable CDMX’s planned 100% conversion to electric power by 2024, with the full support of drivers, passengers and their communities. In addition, the pilot will consider how simple design, system and policy changes can prevent violence, and provide accessible local mobility for people with unique mobility needs and challenges. 

Describe quienes utilizarían tu propuesta (1,000 caracteres) // Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Our pilot involves four drivers providing their usual taxi services with our devices to the communities they currently service. Therefore, our drivers and the women, the elderly and people with disabilities who currently use these services will use ours. We predict dozens of people daily will use each mobility device. While women drivers are generally scarce, with Luis David Berrones-Sanz noting they made up less than five percent of his survey in Tláhuac, we plan to recruit two women and two men to ensure gender needs and observations are reflected in our pilot results. Some if not all of the mobility devices we select will be fully wheelchair accessible, so we expect people with disabilities and people in wheelchairs to use those options often.

Describe la etapa de desarrollo de tu propuesta // Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Diseño inicial: aún estás explorando la idea y no la has probado con los usuarios. // Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Platícanos acerca de tu equipo o compañía (500 caracteres) // Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Darnel Harris: Urban planner, sustainable and equitable mobility expert; Green Talent (Germany) & NextGen Award Winner (Canada). Diana Guzman Porras: Sociologist and translator; graduate of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Sam Starr: Urban mobility expert with supply chain, logistics and operational experience. Velo Canada Bikes Board member. Shimano certified. Robin Mazumder: Cognitive neuroscientist; background in mental health and urban design impact.

Tamaño de tu equipo o compañía // Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Fondos // Funding Request

  • $75,000

Presupuesto aproximado (500 caracteres) // Rough Budget (500 Characters)

Selecting, Modifying and Piloting Four Cargo Trikes - $45,000 USD. Driver Stipend and Supports - $6,000 USD. Device Maintenance - $2,000 USD. Salaries, travel, accommodation for project team during pilot period - $15,000 USD. Contingency - $7,000 USD.

Describe cómo usaras los fondos para tu proyecto piloto (1000 caracteres) // Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Inspired by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s pilot, “Movilidad inteligente: Buses, transporte público y el internet de las cosas,” our 6 month pilot will use 4 existing e-assist cargo cycle models engineered for cargo and people movement. Planning: Purchase devices and select pilot and control drivers. Diagnosis: Install sensors, analyze challenges, conduct surveys and run user interviews. Pilot Operation: Run pilot for 6 months and monitor data collection. Analysis: Review and verify results. Reporting: Conduct exit interviews, draft report and deliver recommendations. The devices we select can continue to be used as e-bicitaxis for years. Normal ongoing driver maintenance fees would cover costs. The City: One Challenge's funding will enable us to test our pilot. Any further partner funds would deepen field research. After the pilot we plan to apply our research by working with the government to implement their e-conversion program by 2024.

Describe cómo medirías el éxito de tu piloto (1000 caracteres) // Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

We will log the performance and maintenance needs of each device we select (revenue per vehicle kilometer, maintenance cost per kilometer), and outfit all four of our devices with sound, rain, pollution and vibration sensors to gain a solid understanding of what passengers and drivers experience on a daily basis. We will use surveys to record the comfort and health of drivers, and the satisfaction of passengers, and compare outcomes with other drivers and their passengers currently using mototaxis, gofitaxis, bicitaxis. We will also conduct interviews with wider stakeholders to ensure all key roadblocks are diagnosed. Our pilot will produce the operations and maintenance logs, system feedback and sociological data required to make firm design and policy recommendations to support CDMX’s move to sustainable e-mobility by supporting the economic vitality of the neighborhoods that have a proven need for short range, low cost transportation.

Plan de sostenibilidad (500 caracteres) // Sustainability Plan (500 Characters)

Beyond the pilot, we plan to work with the government to design and build a rugged, made in Mexico, device suitable for widespread adoption, and the management and maintenance system to support it. These devices will cost drivers less per month to lease/own than current options, and the $150 a month for fuel plus $20 for maintenance they currently pay will be reduced. These revenues will support the new system's implementation, which will include training, group insurance and health benefits.

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Team (4)

Darnel's profile
Sam S.'s profile
Sam S. Starr

Role added on team:

"Engineer, supply chain management, last mile delivery and cargo bike and trike expert; he will lead the procurement and modification of our pilot bikes, and handle all matters related to their maintenance."

Robin's profile
Robin Mazumder

Role added on team:

"Cognitive neuroscientist; he will assist in the modification of our devices, and consult on our demographic field research to ensure that our pilot collects the wealth of data we need to gain a through understanding of acoustic, weather, pollution, vibration and safety challenges."

Diana's profile
Diana Guzman

Role added on team:

"Sociologist and translator; she will spearhead the demographic field research in CDMX, draft project communications and handle translation needs (fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and German), raised and educated in the State of Mexico."


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