- Riders took 113 million trips on shared bikes and e-scooters in the U.S. during 2022, according to a new report from the National Association of City Transportation Officials, setting a new high since the 2019 peak of 136 million rides.
- But while ridership is on the rise, NACTO called out increasing costs for users and “volatility amongst private-sector operators” as causes for concern.
- Corinne Kisner, executive director of NACTO, warned in a statement, “We cannot take this success for granted. To ensure shared micromobility systems continue to grow sustainably and equitably, local leaders must advance safe street design and thoughtful pricing policies in close partnership with operators.”
The NACTO report, published Nov. 2, found a growing trend of shared micromobility use for running errands, getting to school and work, and other miscellaneous trips. The four longest-operating and most-used shared micromobility systems in the U.S. are greater Boston’s Bluebikes; greater Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare; Citi Bike, which serves New York City and the New Jersey cities of Hoboken and Jersey City; and Divvy in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois.
But Bird, Lyft and Spin have laid off workers and pulled back from some markets. Lyft — which operates shared micromobility systems in seven U.S. cities, including three of the most popular systems— also said it wants to sell or restructure its bike and scooter business.
NACTO found that long-term contracts between municipalities and private operators yield more sustainable results, while companies with short-term permits easily pull out of cities when financial conditions deteriorate. The report also found that programs “where local governments have greater involvement in their shared micromobility programs generally lead to better outcomes, like more equitable pricing structures, greater investment in historically underserved communities, and ultimately, a greater likelihood of long-term viability.”
Denver, New Orleans and Pittsburgh restructured their shared micromobility programs around accessibility and long-term viability, NACTO noted. Greg Nichols, deputy chief resilience officer for the city of New Orleans, said in a statement, “We are proud to join NACTO member cities in offering equitable pricing, such that one quarter of all rides are taken by low-income residents.”
Trips on dockless e-bikes jumped 73% from 2021 to 2022 in the U.S. and Canada, according to the NACTO report, while station-based bike-share systems saw a 17% increase in the same period. In contrast, dockless e-scooter trips declined 10% as companies exited certain markets.
Key to the success of shared micromobility systems are dedicated, protected bike lanes, NACTO says. The report points out that Austin, Texas, built 100 miles of new bike lanes between 2018 and 2021, including 22 fully or partially protected intersections, helping to make Austin one of the top U.S. cities for shared rides last year.
Affordable membership and per-ride costs, along with reduced-fare options, improve access for riders, according to NACTO. “However, if a shared micromobility trip is significantly more expensive than riding the bus, particularly if it is used to connect to transit, it may not be a realistic option for price-sensitive customers,” the report concludes.