If You Build Them, They Will Ride
Cities that invested in bike infrastructure post-COVID have seen a 111% increase in usage of the new lanes, Lime data shows.
With access to public transport limited and concerns about shared spaces, people have increased travel by bike and scooter. Many cities have installed new dedicated lanes to support increased micromobility use and give people safe, healthy alternatives to car ridership.
At Lime, we’d love to see these lanes be made permanent. Right now, the majority of London’s new cycleways are temporary “pop ups.” Cities are now grappling with what's needed to make the post-COVID increase in biking and scooting last.
Some important questions they're likely asking right now include: Are these new "pop ups" actually making a difference? Are enough people using them to justify making them permanent? Should additional lanes be created?
To help answer these questions and shed light on potential next steps, we turned to our ridership data. Lime’s policy research team compared ridership in areas of London, Paris, and Berlin where there were no cycle lanes, where there were pre-existing cycle lanes, and where new bike lanes had been installed in Spring 2020.
We compared ridership in these areas during February 2020 and June 2020 and found that overall, riders traveled 68% farther on Lime vehicles in June. This increase reflects many different forces, including COVID, seasonality, and other factors, but supports other findings that bike and scooter use has increased.
Against this backdrop of increased Lime use, we found an even more encouraging trend on streets with new cycle lanes. Lime trips on the streets with new cycle lanes increased an extra 63% above the overall increase in Lime trips in June, for a total increase from February of 111% on streets with new cycle lanes. By contrast, the streets without cycle lanes or with pre-existing bike lanes only saw a 45% to 49% increase in trips.
Lime’s data show that people are riding more frequently and for longer distances most in places where cycle infrastructure was added by cities during the COVID-19 outbreak. Based on this analysis, to cement the post-COVID shift towards cleaner, safer and healthier modes of transportation, cities should make their temporary cycleways permanent and add cycleways to spur continued growth. Other cities can use Lime’s findings to support their efforts to expand their cycle lane network.
In addition to the hard data proving this out, we've also heard from city residents directly that they want to keep slow or open streets, including those with new bike infrastructure. It makes sense; traveling by bike and scooter can help reduce the transmission risks of COVID-19 as they are open-air, single-user vehicles that allow for natural social distancing.
With dedicated lanes for micromobility, one thing is certain: if you build them, they will ride.