Rethinking Travel in the Era of COVID-19: New Report Shows Global Transportation Trends, Support for Micromobility
Today, Lime released a first-of-its-kind report examining trends in transportation preferences as cities around the world work to reopen following COVID-19 related restrictions. Our findings show how people are rethinking their rides and increasing their use of micromobility options, including using shared scooters and purchasing bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters.
We asked people in five cities around the world, Berlin, London, New York City, Seattle, and Seoul, about their transportation decisions across modes of transport, including personal car use, ridehailing services, public transit, and shared scooters -- and found growing support for micromobility options and cities built for people -- not cars.
Seoul and Berlin provide unique insights, particularly since mobility restrictions have been less severe, and shared scooters had already been on city streets pre-COVID-19. In these two cities, respondents continued their use of shared scooters during the COVID-19 pandemic and indicated they planned to use them more frequently in the future.
In Seattle, New York and London, which do not have existing scooter share programs, the future for micromobility is also bright: 75% of respondents say they intend to ride scooters in the future. In fact, 1 out of 3 respondents (35%) say they will use it weekly or daily, implying it will likely become a regular commuting habit. And across respondents, 23% reported they purchased a bike, e-bike, or e-scooter as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, while just 6% purchased a car, truck, or motorcycle. These trends reflect that bikes and scooters are a convenient, affordable, and safe way to get around, and are the transportation mode of this unique time, as well as our future.
Support was also strong for so-called ‘slow streets,’ which have been closed to car traffic, but remain open to bikes, scooters, and pedestrians. Many cities have introduced miles of these slow streets during the COVID-19 crisis, and it’s clear that people have enjoyed and utilized them. Protected areas to ride are important to a majority of riders -- previous research has shown that 52% ranked a protected bike lane as their number one choice for riding, with bike lanes and off-street bike paths a close second and third.
We also found that though public transit ridership has declined significantly during the COVID-19 closures, falling 21 percentage points, these numbers rebound to projected near pre-COVID-19 levels in the future. This is a very strong recovery, and also demonstrates the value people place on public transit in their cities -- and why Lime’s commitment to being the best first- and last-mile option to complement these systems is so important. Our shared scooters and bikes can help fill these gaps in our usual transportation systems as cities reopen, ensuring people are able to get to where they need to go-- from work, to picking up food, to reconnecting with friends and families.
Our survey found that ridehailing usage fell significantly as well, with a 23 percentage point reduction in respondents saying they used ridehailing services during the COVID-19 crisis. This percentage returns to pre-pandemic levels when we asked about future use, though, suggesting that the window is closing for cities to encourage a mode shift toward sustainable modes like walking, micromobility, and public transit. This is especially important when considering the 17% reduction in global emissions seen during the COVID-19 travel restrictions, which are already rebounding -- and makes sustainable modes of transportation, like micromobility, even more crucial.
Taken together, these trends demonstrate the way people are quickly adapting to dramatic changes in their environment, including travel restrictions and reopening procedures. It’s clear people are rethinking their rides to work as cities are beginning to reopen, and new transportation trends are beginning to emerge. This survey shows how people are choosing transportation options that make more sense for our evolving ‘new normal’ and beyond -- and how micromobility is playing a significant role in this unique moment in time by providing a safe, reliable way to get around and filling gaps in our usual transportation systems. We’re excited to see how this growing support for a range of micromobility options, a return to public transit, and keeping slow streets will help shape the future of transportation in a way that prioritizes people instead of cars.
Read more about the survey and our findings here.