This One Graph Shows the Extent of E-Scooters’ Staggering Popularity

The people have spoken. 

Just two years after Bird introduced them to the world, shared e-scooters have emerged as the uncontested sustainable mobility mode of choice for urbanites across the US. According to a report released by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Americans took 86 million trips on e-scooters in 2019—almost two-thirds of the 136 million micromobility trips overall and a staggering 123% growth in rides year-over-year.

The rapid rise of shared e-scooters is critical for cities determined to reduce urban car use and its corresponding deadly output of carbon emissions. NACTO’s report finds that 45% of micromobility rides in major US cities replace trips that otherwise would have been made by either a personal car or a ride-hailing vehicle. This means that, in 2019, shared e-scooters offered by operators like Bird erased nearly 39 million car trips from city streets in the US.

While the numbers swing heavily in favor of e-scooters, they may actually be biased against them. That’s because shared e-scooters were not permitted in several major American cities last year including New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Similarly, fees imposed by cities on scooter operators were not considered in the report—factors that, if addressed cooperatively, will likely yield even higher ridership and modeshift rates in the future. 

In addition to making up the majority of micromobility rides in the US, the NACTO report also finds that e-scooters are both equitably distributed across the country and more apt to achieve success in cities of varying population densities. The top six e-scooter markets make up less than 40% of all rides nationwide, meaning that more than 50 million trips were taken in moderately-sized cities. 

When paired with a recent study published in Transportation Research: Part A which indicates that micromobility providers like Bird are relied on far more for transportation than for recreation, what emerges is a clear picture of e-scooters as an extremely popular alternative to cars—one that not only helps cities of all sizes to achieve their ambitious modeshift goals but does so efficiently and at no cost to taxpayers. 

To find out more about new reports and findings emerging from the micromobility industry every week, subscribe to the Bird Cities Blog.