The data is as encouraging as it is significant.
If you know much about micromobility in the US, you’re likely aware of the gender gap that has dogged the cycling industry for decades. American women are about 60% less likely to commute to work on a bike, according to the US Census Bureau. The difference is even more pronounced in cities like Seattle, where men accounted for 76% of all cyclists as recently as 2019.
Atlanta and Bird, however, are demonstrating that this narrative can be changed.
A new survey of Bird riders reveals that shared scooters are helping level the micromobility playing field in Atlanta, a city in which nearly 46% of respondents identify as female compared to 50.9% who identify as male.
This is a meaningful new statistic, particularly in light of the fact that, between 2006 and 2015, the Atlanta Metro Area was grappling with a 53% increase in collisions between cars and pedestrians/cyclists.
A lack of safe separation from automobiles is often cited as a reason many riders, including many women, opt not to ride bikes and scooters. In fact, in the same Bird survey, 65% of respondents indicated that protected bike lanes would encourage them to use scooters more—the single biggest factor influencing that decision.
“I am heartened to see the increased gender balance in scooter riders in Atlanta,” said Sarah Kaufman, Associate Director at the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management.. “Women are often harbingers of safe public spaces, and their use of Birds in Atlanta points to successful safety efforts in street and scooter design. The more cities can implement safe infrastructure, the more we’ll see a diversity of users, keep our residents safe, reduce traffic congestion and bring joy into mobility.”
The City of Atlanta has taken this message to heart in recent years. In 2019, Mayor Keisha Bottoms unveiled a $5 million action plan to increase protected cycling and scooter infrastructure. So called “complete street” overhauls are either completed, underway or scheduled for high-traffic thoroughfares like Cascade Road, Juniper Street and Monroe Drive.
There’s even a proposed $44 million project under consideration that would make Cumberland, the home of Atlanta’s famed professional baseball team, more bike and scooter friendly (among other things).
In addition to encouraging more sustainable transportation options and helping to significantly narrow the micromobility gender gap, projects like these have an added bonus of promoting local businesses. According to Bird’s survey respondents, nearly 7 in 10 Bird riders in Atlanta visited a local business on their most recent trip, with 86% of them reporting that scooter access made them more likely to do so.
To learn more about how Bird scooters are impacting mobility in Atlanta and more than 350 other cities around the world, subscribe to the Bird Cities Blog.