Can scooters Promote bike sharing? Lime data shows that both services are growing in Seattle
After a lengthy city approval process, Lime's rent-able electric scooter has been on the streets of Seattle for six weeks. Lime says,during that time, the addition of scooters increased the number of bike-sharing riders, dispelling concerns that the pilot program would undermine Seattle's existing micro-transportation services.
Seattle was the first major U.S. city to adopt seatless bike-sharing, but it lags behind other regions when it comes to scooters. Seattle transportation officials have a number of concerns about scooters, including their potential to replace New York City's existing bike-sharing program, which broke out in 2017 but then contracted with a supplier in subsequent years. But Lime's new data suggests scooters may not be eating away at cyclists, but may actually be enhancing their effect.
In the six weeks before the scooters went live in Seattle, the average number of e-bike trips was about 1,843, according to Lime. But in the six weeks since Lime launched its scooter in Seattle, the average number of e-bike riders per week has grown to 2,655.
But, like everything in 2020, COVID-19 complicates this trend. The six weeks since the scooters were used in Seattle in mid-September have coincided with a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases in the Seattle area every day. With some restrictions lifted, many Seattle residents are moving around the city more than they did earlier this year.
There is still some other data to support the theory that providing multiple modes of transport can improve micro-mobility in general. Seattle was the only market where Lime operated JUMP bikes before they launched, but in other cities the company has added e-bikes to its existing fleet of scooters. In Washington, D.C., Berlin and Rome, Lime saw an increase of about 2,000 rides per week on the average scooter after adding JUMP bikes.
Trip rate data helps Lime's strategy of making micromotion as easy as possible, rather than increasing competition. The company is actively working to add other vendors to its apps, even if they compete with Lime scooters and bicycles.
In October Lime announced plans to include Wheels in its apps in several cities, including Seattle. Lime plans to add other micro-services to its applications in the future.
"While Seattleites can choose from a variety of models to suit their needs, this makes them more likely to get into the habit of biking and skateboarding," Jonathan Hopkins, Director of strategic development at Lime, said in a statement. "This is an exciting phenomenon that we are seeing in city after city: the multi-mode approach increases the number of users for each vehicle type, improves reliability and simplifies the car-free lifestyle."
Lime is one of three companies chosen to apply to operate electric scooters in Seattle with LINK and Wheels. LINK deployed its first 150 scooters in Seattle last week, and Wheels is expected to roll them out in the next few weeks.
Lime says it has served more than 51,000 rides in Seattle since its launch in September. Lime has previously deployed scooters to the White Center area with Spin as part of another pilot program being implemented in King County.