Where the Sidewalk Ends
Explore the possibilities of shared micomobility for retail with Ride Report.
On Earth Day 2022, the City and County of Denver launched the e-bike incentive program with support from APTIM. In just nine months, the program assisted 4,734 Denver residents in becoming new e-bike owners. A recent report also highlights important data proving the economic and environmental success of the program. Ride Report Head of Strategy Nelle Pierson, a contributor to that report, shared their insight on the past, present, and future of shared micromobility in a conversation with APTIM below.
What is shared micromobility?
Have you seen colorful electric bikes (e-bikes) or scooters around your town that can be rented from your phone? Shared micromobility refers to programs like these, which support small, lightweight transportation for short trips. For those who may not know, these programs are designed and regulated by your local government with the goal of creating more convenient, affordable, business-friendly, and fun transportation options.
What made you interested in shared micromobility?
I went to college in Fort Collins, Colorado, to study the politics of climate change. The city and campus have invested so much into making biking a safe and easy option, and since then, I have been hooked. I joined a growing number of people who view biking as an affordable, political panacea to address many societal issues, not to mention a sweet and reliable way to get around. Biking gets people out and active; connects us to our community; saves us money; and reduces noise, pollution, and stress. When I graduated, I set out to become a bike advocate, and that is what I have done for the last 13 years.
Shared micromobility programs are one of the most effective ways to get more people—and more diverse people—riding. One of the biggest barriers to biking is owning, storing, and maintaining a new piece of heavy equipment. Just going into a bike shop can be intimidating for a lot of people, and most of us need a mosaic of transportation options throughout our day to accommodate different travel distances. With flexible sharing programs, I can take a bus to work, hop on a bike to a meeting, walk to the grocery store, and take a bus home.
What does Ride Report do?
Ride Report does a lot of cool stuff with data to help cities design safer roadways; grow shared micromobility programs; and ultimately, give people better ways to move around. Each bike and scooter managed through these sharing programs is GPS-enabled, so we built a series of tools for agency staff to track and manage their program regulations, view ridership heatmaps and statistics, and compare against other programs. Most recently, we launched Impacts, a tool that uses multimodal data to measure the outcomes from new protected bike lanes and policy changes.
What growth trends are you seeing in shared micromobility?
In my hometown of Denver, we witnessed the rise of one of the most successful shared micromobility programs in the U.S. Since the program started in the fall of 2018, commuters have made over 14 million trips, and the program continues to grow in popularity. Ridership has increased 144 percent since May 2021, when the city permitted Lyft and Lime to nearly double their fleet, making Denver the Ride Report city with the second highest number of trips. On June 15, 2023, engagement peaked at 37,800 trips in a single day.
Over 400 cities across North America have scootershare or bikeshare programs. The growth of these programs means more options for individuals and more solutions for cities. Americans spend more time in traffic than we spend with our families.
In urban areas, transportation tends to represent around 25 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, even though most of our daily trips are three miles or less. According to NABSA, shared micromobility trips offset approximately 54 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in 2022. Programs for shared bikes and scooters are a critical tool for improving our day-to-day lives and bringing us closer to emission reduction goals.
How are individuals using shared micromobility options, and how might this impact retail locations?
The average trip length for all vehicles is about 1.4 miles in distance and 14 minutes in time. These are quick and often spontaneous trips. According to NABSA, 33 percent of trips are destined for social activities, entertainment, and dining out; 27 percent are for fun and recreation; 25 percent are for work or school; and 15 percent are for shopping, errands, and appointments. In other words, most of these trips either start or end at a local cash register and could benefit from accommodations for shared micromobility.
How might retailers encourage and better serve employees and customers who utilize micromobility options?
- Offer staff transportation benefits: People For Bikes, a national bike advocacy organization, is continuing to work on passing the Federal Bicycle Commuter Act, which would offer $81 per month in pre-tax benefits for people who use their bike or bikeshare. In the meantime, retailers can begin developing these custom benefits for their employees.
- Support local events that raise awareness: For example, most cities organize a bike to work day, which local retailers can participate in by hosting pit stops. This is also a great way to attract people in or around your shop.
- Request or install parking corrals: If you are tired of seeing scooters knocked over on your sidewalks, make sure to have these installed in the right-of-way.
- Support protected infrastructure: The best investment you can make to support your employees and customers is to support associated infrastructure. Physically separated bike lanes increase ridership for people ages eight to 88 from all walks of life, reduce sidewalk riding, reduce crash rates, increase your foot traffic, and boost your sales volume.
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