Urban Mobility Scaling: Lessons from `Little Data'

Galen Wilkerson, Ramin Khalili, Stefan Schmid

Recent mobility scaling research, using new data sources, often relies on aggregated data alone. Hence, these studies face difficulties characterizing the influence of factors such as transportation mode on mobility patterns. This paper attempts to complement this research by looking at a category-rich mobility data set. In order to shed light on the impact of categories, as a case study, we use conventionally collected German mobility data. In contrast to `check-in'-based data, our results are not biased by Euclidean distance approximations. In our analysis, we show that aggregation can hide crucial differences between trip length distributions, when subdivided by categories. For example, we see that on an urban scale (0 to ~15 km), walking, versus driving, exhibits a highly different scaling exponent, thus universality class. Moreover, mode share and trip length are responsive to day-of-week and time-of-day. For example, in Germany, although driving is relatively less frequent on Sundays than on Wednesdays, trips seem to be longer. In addition, our work may shed new light on the debate between distance-based and intervening-opportunity mechanisms affecting mobility patterns, since mode may be chosen both according to trip length and urban form.

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