New data snapshot finds micromobility has become a crucial part of city transportation networks across the U.S., and that bikeshare and e-scooter systems were key to moving essential workers during the pandemic. As the bike boom continues, city approaches to regulating micromobility must evolve.
Bike share, e-scooters and other micromobility systems have become a crucial part of urban transportation networks across the U.S., with at least half a billion trips on micromobility systems in the U.S. since 2010, according to a new analysis by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).
NACTO’s new 2020-2021 Shared Micromobility report examines data from cities across the U.S. and finds that shared micromobility systems, especially e-bikes, were a major contributor of the pandemic-era bicycle boom, providing crucial options for essential workers—and everyone else—to get around. And while COVID-19 upended almost all established mobility patterns, shared micromobility ridership in the U.S. nearly rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, with 112 million trips.
Cities across the U.S. have expanded micromobility service in the past two years, the analysis finds, targeting previously underserved communities and strengthening equity requirements for operators. E-bikes are increasingly popular: shared e-bike trips nearly doubled from 9.5 million in 2018 to 17 million in 2021. The share of “casual trips”—by people who purchase a single ride or day pass instead of membership—has also increased significantly over the past two years, indicating broader use of micromobility systems, and ridership has shifted away from the AM rush hour towards increased trips throughout the day.
The snapshot also highlights the key role micromobility has played in keeping people and economies moving, even in times of disruption. In New York, for example, a Citi Bike station near several major Manhattan hospitals became the most-used station in 2020, a dramatic rise from its ranking as the 59th most-used in 2019. In Washington D.C., reduced transit service caused by maintenance issues prompted Capital Bikeshare to offer free 30-day passes; during that time, 89% of Capital Bikeshare users were new riders, suggesting that transit riders shifted trips from transit to bike share.
Despite advances in equity, the snapshot also notes a potentially worrying trend: trip prices have increased substantially since 2018, especially in systems where prices are not regulated by the city. Trip costs for e-scooters and e-bikes have more than doubled since 2018.
In addition to the Snapshot, NACTO has also published a new working paper, “Shared Micromobility Permitting, Process, and Participation” which outlines emerging trends in how cities manage micromobility networks, including the growth of electrified devices, the selection of operators based on strategic goals, and regulations to better organize devices. The paper also offers several tactics for making systems more equitable and effective, ranging from creating collaborative planning processes to investing in bike infrastructure and piloting low-speed zones for vehicle traffic.
The working paper is the latest in a series of documents that will inform a much-anticipated update to NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide next year.
“Shared bikes and e-scooters are embedded within the day-to-day lives of millions of people,” said Corinne Kisner, Executive Director of NACTO. “Well-designed micromobility programs mean safer, more sustainable and resilient cities. By redesigning streets, lowering speeds, and prioritizing bikeway projects, local leaders can ensure that the bike and scooter boom continues to gain momentum, connecting people to the opportunities in their cities.”
“Citi Bike has helped fuel New York City’s bicycling boom since the pandemic, proving to be a critical transportation tool for essential workers and a pillar of the city’s economic recovery,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “As NACTO notes, our work to build a dense network of stations has helped generate more and more trips on the largest bike share network in the country. We look forward to continuing the expansion of this popular service into Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens and build on our successes.”
“Micromobility has been a key piece of Minneapolis’ transportation landscape providing over 3 million rides since 2018,” said Russ Brooks, Mobility Planner with the City of Minneapolis Department of Public Works. “Developing the necessary policy, regulatory, and data tools to manage private operators has been critical for ensuring residents have easy, affordable, and equitable access to low- and no-carbon transportation options.”
“In Chicago, we have seen some exciting trends in shared micromobility trips over the last few years. In a 2020 survey of e-scooter customers, nearly 30% of the riders reported that they would have used a personal or rideshare vehicle if e-scooters had not been available, demonstrating the value to the city of having this low carbon mobility choice” said Sean Wiedel, Assistant Commissioner for Citywide Services at the Chicago Department of Transportation. “We’ve seen record ridership in 2021 and 2022, and our recently-launched scooter license program has seen nearly 40% of trips start or end in equity priority areas.”
“In Fort Collins, dockless e-scooters and e-bikes are very popular and have exceeded the ridership levels of all our previous shared micromobility systems,” said Rachel Ruhlen, Transportation Planner with the City of Fort Collins. “As these new transportation options evolve, we’re responding and making changes so that those who need it the most have safe, affordable, and sustainable ways to get around, while also making sure that the public right-of-way is kept clear.”
“Since the arrival of shared micromobility in 2018, e-scooters and e-bicycles have proven to be an important mobility option in Baltimore,” said Meg Young, Interim Transit and Multimodal Chief for the City of Baltimore. “whether they supplement transit, or replace a car ride, these options edge us closer to a more complete transit ecosystem. Cities like Baltimore must continue to partner in innovation and ensure that equity and community are central tenets in emerging transportation.”
“In Portland, Oregon, shared micromobility has seen unprecedented usage in 2022,” said Bryan Nguyễn, Shared Micromobility Coordinator at the Portland Bureau of Transportation. With increasing adoption of e-bikes and e-scooters, safety in the public right-of-way for users and non-users; accessibility to first and last mile connections; and, most importantly affordability for all community members should be prioritized by transportation officials as cities strive to achieve their climate change goals.”
“Over the past two years, with the help of NACTO and our peer cities, we’ve refined our regulations to bring more devices and generate more rides in all Providence neighborhoods,” said Liza Farr, Parking Administrator for the City of Providence Department of Public Works. “As we continue to prioritize making our streets safer for all, it is clear that micromobility continues to be a vital piece of the puzzle for Providence residents and visitors alike to get where they need to go.”
“Shared Micromobility provides a vital mobility option for Atlantans and visitors to travel throughout the city,” said Ashley Finch, Shared Micromobility Coordinator for the City of Atlanta. “In 2022 alone, over 1.5 million trips were taken on dockless e-scooters and e-bikes, and surveys show that 30-40% of these trips replace car trips in Atlanta. ATLDOT will continue to use both regulation and partnerships with operators to ensure the shared micromobility program reflects our department goals of safety, mobility, and equity.”
“It is important to the City of Grand Rapids that we have many transportation options so we are an accessible city, and it’s even more important that these options are affordable,” said Josh Naramore, Mobile GR Director of the City of Grand Rapids. “Interest in share micromobility continues to be strong in Grand Rapids, with people using shared micromobiity to get to work, run errands, and explore our community. As we expand bike and scooter share into more neighborhoods, we are working closely to ensure these services are lower-cost options, especially in our Neighborhoods of Focus.”
About the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
NACTO is an association of 91 major North American cities and transit agencies formed to exchange transportation ideas, insights, and practices and cooperatively approach national transportation issues. The organization’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible, and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life. To learn more, visit NACTO.org or follow us on Twitter at @NACTO and Instagram at @NACTOcities.
Alex Engel | [email protected]
Billy Richling | [email protected]
For Immediate Release
December 1st, 2022