Throughout March and into April, headlines reflected a sobering concern for the future of shared micromobility:
“Pandemic spells uncertain future for bikes and scooters”
“Will scooters survive the COVID-19 crisis?”
“The coronavirus might finally kill off electric scooter startups”
And then something remarkable happened. As companies like Bird thoughtfully ramped up operations in cities around the world, clearly communicating the steps being taken to put community health and safety first, riders responded in a big way.
This culminated in a US Memorial Day weekend that saw not only a sharp increase in the number of rides being taken (seen below), but the continuation of a trend that the team at Bird has been watching since shelter in place measures began to lift in late April: significantly longer rides.
“Over the past month, we’ve seen sustained increases in trip duration of more than 50%,” said Ryan Fujiu, Chief Product Officer at Bird. “Initially we attributed this to a desire to be back outdoors experiencing fresh air and open space, but we’re seeing strong indications that it may be a much longer-term trend related to things like public transit concerns, nearly a thousand miles of new open streets and a spike in the construction of protected cycling infrastructure.”
The latter two points are particularly noteworthy. Globally, more than 1,600 miles/2,500 km of public space have opened up to bikes and scooters since the start of the global pandemic according to Mike Lydon, founder of the Open Streets Project. As more protected streets and cycle lanes are made available to micromobility riders, there seems to be a corresponding increase in their willingness to rely on shared e-scooters for longer trips.
Earlier this month, we highlighted five global cities taking proactive measures to encourage micromobility use, and the early positive results of these initiatives appear to stretch well beyond electric scooters alone. In France, national data indicate that cycling is up more than 40% since confinement measures were lifted on May 11th, and in the UK bike sales are reaching levels not seen in decades.
We’ll continue to keep a close eye on these emerging trends and share our data and insights as they become available. For more information on the evolving future of micromobility, check out this article by Bird’s Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer Rebecca Hahn.