June Recap: NYC Goes Electric, Scooters Surge Post-COVID and a Farewell to Segway

Every month in 2020 has seemingly brought dramatic new changes and opportunities to the micromobility industry—and June was no different. 

With the kickoff of summer in the northern hemisphere, cities around the world are looking to adapt to the “next normal” in the wake of a coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted everything from business openings to Pride celebrations. Here are some of the biggest developments impacting e-scooters that have happened over the past 30 days.

New York City Council Approves Shared E-Scooter Pilot

With the passage of several bills last week, the New York City Council not only officially legalized e-scooters in the most populated metropolitan area in the US but also instructed the Department of Transportation to develop a shared scooter pilot program

The decision marked a major milestone for miromobility advocates who had long seen electric scooters as an important transportation redundancy for New Yorkers. As Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera recently wrote: “Now more than ever we need New York City and the DOT to embrace these options at scale. My district is still waiting for Citi Bike, but we would welcome the opportunity to benefit from electric scooters. Innovation should not serve disadvantaged communities last.”

New York City’s pilot will last for one year, and can potentially start as soon as e-scooters become legal later this year. According to the bill, the program must be large enough to properly evaluate the efficacy of shared electric scooter systems.

Europe (Re)Launches Scooters, This Time With Bird Two

Many European cities have either launched or re-launched electric scooter programs in June in the hopes of encouraging residents to forego cars and develop new, more sustainable daily mobility habits. 

Rome was a notable addition to this list. The city has made significant strides towards reducing its dependence on privately-owned cars post-covid, and Mayor Virginia Raggi made a point of highlighting the importance of electric scooters in this process by holding a press conference alongside Bird’s GM of Italy Cristina Donofrio. 

As confinement measures have continued easing throughout the month, the team at Bird has worked hard to bring even more of our Bird Twos to riders across Europe. Milan, Paris and Lyon joined a growing number of European cities that have already launched the industry’s most sustainable electric scooter, including Stockholm and Antwerp.

More New Riders, More Repeat Riders and Longer Rides Post-Covid

Around the world, new micromobility trends are emerging that demonstrate how riders are adapting their personal transportation habits in response to the ongoing global pandemic. Three of these in particular caught our eye earlier this month. 

The first is that there is a noticeable uptick in new scooter riders, particularly in North America where the percentage of first-time Bird riders has more than doubled compared to pre-COVID levels. Relatedly, there has also been a surge in rider retention, or the number of first time scooter riders who are quickly becoming repeat riders. New rider retention rates are up more than 93% globally.

Finally, a persistent trend that we’ve been tracking since May appears to be continuing at least into July. Between reduced public transit demand and a global increase in cycling infrastructure spending, riders are taking significantly longer scooter rides than they were pre-COVID. The average Bird rider is riding more than 50% longer, indicating an increased reliance on micromobility to accommodate noticeably longer trips.

Farewell, Segway, a True Mobility Pioneer

Late June also brought with it the announcement that Segway would be stopping production of its iconic two-wheeled “personal transporter.” Originally designed by engineer and inventor Dean Kamen and introduced to the world in late 2001, the Segway was revolutionary in kicking off the modern day micromobility revolution. 

As Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden wrote, “The legacy of the Segway is not one of wild commercial success, but that doesn’t make it any less significant. In a world that had become accustomed to sacrificing thriving city neighborhoods in exchange for highways and parking lots, here was a machine that gave us our first real glimpse of tech-driven, sustainable mobility built to human scale since the bicycle.”