By Wayne Ting, Lime CEO
COVID-19 has reshaped how we work and live from the ground up, and nearly every facet of our days reflect our new, altered reality. It’s clear that cities and riders are rethinking their rides post-initial COVID lockdowns-- and at Lime, we are adapting our business to the new ways people are getting around.
Today, Lime is releasing new data that shows dramatic changes in transportation patterns and how people are moving past old transportation paradigms and seeking out safer, cleaner, more affordable and accessible modes of transportation-- and we’re excited to share how.
As most new economic activity and travel is happening in neighborhoods, Lime is shifting bikes and scooters from tourism locations and bustling downtowns to neighborhoods.
In cities around the world, we are seeing more trips originate in residential neighborhoods instead of in traditional downtown areas, as people observe lockdowns and spend more time in their communities instead of commuting.
By updating our proprietary ‘hotspot optimizer’ with these new travel trends, we are able to deploy scooters and our new JUMP bikes more accurately to where people need transportation options, and in new cities. That means more devices in local economic corridors rather than in downtowns. Additionally, we know that biking is more appealing for longer commutes, while scooting is more attractive for shorter trips, or leisure and weekend travel. Lime’s expanded fleet will help us serve more people for more purposes. Since lockdown restrictions have eased in markets like London, we have seen new usage records set and raised -- with more than 4,000 new users joining Lime in a single day last month. We know the demand is there, and are committed to meeting it.
When comparing the month before lockdown with the month after, we’re seeing the following trends:
- People are riding scooters longer -- 34% increase to 13.1 minutes from 9.72 minutes;
- People are riding scooters farther -- 18% increase to 2.05KM from 1.69KM;
- People are using scooters for recreation and to run errands -- 7% increase in this use case
- Rush hours are seeing less use, with increases throughout the day -- 53.57% of riders are now riding in the afternoon (4-11pm), a 8.62% increase.
- Travel is originating in neighborhoods to a much higher degree post-initial COVID lockdowns.
- In a city like San Francisco, the trend is clear:
- All-time app opens Post-initial COVID lockdown app opens
- And in Berlin, we’re seeing the same trend emerge:
- All-time app opens Post-initial COVID lockdown app opens
Our February 2020 Rider Survey found that over two-thirds (67%) of global riders use Lime frequently to access local businesses. And now at a global level, people are choosing to visit and support their local small businesses, and reinvesting in their communities.
Lime is taking action in support of local communities in a variety of ways, including:
- Partnering with local chambers of commerce and other organizations to feature local small businesses along a rider’s route in our app and enroll businesses in our Key Lime program to bring customers to their doorstep.
- In Tel Aviv, we launched the “Together” campaign with small businesses to provide reduced rates for riders who start a trip outside a neighborhood store.
- In Spokane, Washington, we partnered with Visit Spokane, the City's official marketing organization, to launch a dedicated website to provide tailored itineraries to help visitors and locals discover new places to eat and shop.
- Enrolling thousands of local businesses in our LimeHub program, which sets priority deployment zones at small businesses, and helps drive traffic to their locations in support merchant corridors
- Leading scooter tours to promote cities’ diverse neighborhoods and small business corridors, like in Denver where we partnered with the non-profit Historic Denver to run cultural scooters tours in Curtis Park, Capitol Hill, and Five Points as well as the East Colfax Business Improvement District to run scooter tours of small businesses.
Lime is expanding affordable options to ensure that people have access to transportation when and where they need it, including new frequent-rider passes and bikes.
As we looked at ridership trends, we saw riders were using our scooters less in the morning for commutes (as fewer people are now commuting into work) and more for running errands after work and/or commuting to third shift jobs. As a result, we have designed a variety of flexible ridership passes to help meet the evolving needs of our riders and provide an affordable alternative to driving. These different offerings, including a Day Pass, Month Pass, and Unlock Pass, have seen a 4X increase in adoption since our June launch-- demonstrating the demand, and their value to our riders.
We know that increased local travel also requires expanded options for different types of trips. That’s why Lime is bringing bikes to cities like Paris, London, Denver, Seattle, and Washington, DC, with the goal of building the first financially-sustainable shared bike system in the world. Since lockdown restrictions eased, Lime’s e-bike rental service has seen record usage, with users taking longer journeys and the bikes being used more frequently. In London, Lime recorded its highest-ever usage in a single day last month, with over 4,000 new users-- and we saw ridership reach more than double the pre-COVID average, reaching a total of 4.5 trips-per-vehicle-per-day.
Lime’s expanded fleet will help us serve more people for more purposes, and we are constantly applying learnings from our scooter operations to build a better bike share business. For example, we’re applying our hotspot optimizer to our new JUMP bikes to ensure they are deployed where people needed them -- by changing that, we’re able to provide more access and help people get where they need to go. And we’re always trying to promote use which replaces a car trip through our exclusive integrations in apps like Google Maps and Uber.
We also recognize that transportation has historically been used as a way to perpetuate systemic racism, and Lime believes it plays a central role in helping Black and Latino residents, particularly in disenfranchised neighborhoods, to access bikes and scooters.
According to our rider surveys, only 17.2% of our riders in the US are Black or Latinx. We are taking steps to make shared micromobility a more attractive and accessible options for people of color by:
- Reexamining all of our service area maps in the U.S. and expanding boundaries to provide greater access.
- Holding our popular “First Ride Academies” in more communities of color.
- Enlisting Black and Latinx local team members to serve as Lime Ambassadors in neighborhoods of color.
- Developing our Key Lime small business program, which will feature local businesses of color directly in the Lime app.
- Supporting local civil rights and racial justice organizations through our Lime Hero program, which allows riders to round up the cost of their ride with a charitable donation -- including the Louisville Urban League, in Louisville, KY; the Coalition of Communities of Color in Portland, OR; the Transforming Reentry Services in Chicago, IL; and Matrix Human Services in Detroit, MI.
We must all do our part to bend the curve of COVID, which is why Lime is investing in scooter sanitization and safety.
We recently collaborated with medical professionals on a white paper that looks at the implications for shared modes of transportation. The evidence points to shared bikes and scooters as the mode of transport for our changed world for three main reasons:
- As a single-passenger mode of transportation - micromobility provides a natural, easy way to observe social distancing.
- Being outdoors in open-air dramatically lowers the risk of airborne transmission; and
- The CDC has determined that surface contact is an unlikely way to contract the virus.
In fact, before we resume operations in any city, all Lime employees must complete several training courses on the new sanitization procedures, social distancing protocols, and how to appropriately use the personal protection equipment (PPE) we provide.
Our cleaning procedures follow CDC disinfection recommendations, and we only use disinfectants that meet approved standards for mitigating the coronavirus, and we place extra focus on frequently touched areas, such as handlebars, brakes, and throttles.
Every time a Lime employee handles a scooter, they sanitize the scooter, which means Lime is regularly cleaning scooters both in our warehouses and in the field. In addition, we have implemented sanitization procedures focused on high traffic areas in our daily operations, including our vans and warehouse door knobs, and mechanic stations.
We’re also committed to rider safety education, and ensuring that our riders know how best to protect themselves. We consistently communicate how Lime is working to keep our riders and teams safe by following the latest health and safety guidance, sharing this information with our riders through in-app messaging, hang tags on the scooter, our dedicated safety website, rider emails, and social media. We also advise the rider to wash their hands or use at least 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer when arriving at their destination.
As cities and riders rethink their ride in a post-COVID environment, Lime is adapting its business to the new ways people are getting around.
We’re excited about the future of micromobility, and the potential it has to radically reshape how we all get around. As cities emerge from COVID and embrace a more equitable and sustainable future, it is all our responsibility to be active partners in reimagining transportation’s role. Micromobility can help make our cities safer, greener, and ultimately more prosperous. The time to rethink our rides is now, and Lime is here to help make this future a reality.
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