It’s been six weeks since Lime’s rentable electric scooters arrived on Seattle’s streets, following a lengthy approval process by the city. In that time, Lime says the addition of scooters has boosted bike-share ridership, relieving concerns that the pilot program would undercut Seattle’s existing micromobility services.
Seattle was the first big American city to embrace dockless bike-share but lagged behind other regions when it came to scooters. Seattle transportation officials had a range of concerns about scooters, including their potential to supplant the city’s existing bike-share program, which exploded in 2017 but then contracted down to one vendor in the years the followed. But new data from Lime suggests that scooters may not erode bike ridership — and could actually bolster it.
In the six weeks before scooters launched in Seattle, e-bike ridership averaged about 1,843 riders per week, according to Lime. But in the six weeks after Lime launched scooters in Seattle, average weekly e-bike riders grew to 2,655.
However — as with everything in 2020 — the trend is complicated by COVID-19. The six-week period after scooters launched in Seattle in mid-September coincided with a dip in new daily coronavirus cases in the Seattle region. With some restrictions lifted, many Seattleites began moving around the city more than they did earlier in the year.
Still, there is some additional data to support the theory that providing multiple modes of transport increases micromobility ridership overall. Seattle is the only market where Lime operated its JUMP bikes before launching scooters but in other cities, the company has added e-bikes to existing scooter fleets. In Washington D.C., Berlin, and Rome, Lime saw scooter ridership increase by about 2,000 average weekly rides after adding JUMP bikes.
The ridership data lends weight to Lime’s strategy of making micromobility as convenient as possible, rather than edging out the competition. The company is actively working to add other vendors to its app, even when they compete with Lime scooters and bikes.
In October, Lime announced plans to incorporate Wheels vehicles into its app in several cities, including Seattle. Lime plans to add additional micromobility services to its app going forward.
“When Seattleites can choose between modes to fit their needs, it makes them more likely to make cycling and scooting a habit,” said Jonathan Hopkins, Lime’s director of strategic development, in a statement. “It’s an exciting phenomenon we’ve seen in city after city: a multi-modal approach grows the number of users for each vehicle type, improves reliability and makes a car-free lifestyle easier.”
Lime was one of three companies selected to apply for permits to operate scooters in Seattle, along with LINK and Wheels. LINK deployed its first 150 scooters in Seattle last week and Wheels is expected to launch in the coming weeks.
Lime says it has provided more than 51,000 rides in Seattle since launching scooters in September. Lime previously deployed scooters to the White Center area, along with Spin, as part of another pilot program being run by King County.