City: Shared Emobility Saves More Than 1 Million Car Trips

Escooters, ebikes can reshape transit in Santa Monica, California, officials say.

Lyft Scooters
Lyft was one of four electric scooter and bike share providers to participate in Santa Monica’s Shared Mobility Pilot Program.Lyft

Shared electric scooters and bikes in the city of Santa Monica generated almost 2.7 million rides from October 2018 through September 2019—and nearly half those rides replaced car trips, according to a new study released by the California city.

The city launched its Shared Mobility Pilot Program last year, selecting Bird, Jump, Lime, and Lyft from a pool of applicants. The four operators were allowed to deploy a total of 2,500 emobility devices—2,000 electric scooters and 500 electric bikes. During the yearlong pilot period, city officials conducted two users surveys, covering more than 4,200 completed responses, and a community wide survey (1,261 completed responses) to evaluate the program and determine next steps.

Users logged 2,673,819 rides from October 2018 through September 2019, with ridership peaking in the spring and summer. Of the 4,260 riders surveyed, 35 percent were residents of Santa Monica, 44 percent were residents of other Los Angeles County areas, and 21 percent were out-of-county visitors.

The study states that shared mobility devices were most often used for short work-related trips (29 percent), recreation (26 percent), eating out (14 percent), to get to and from home (11 percent), and shopping (8 percent). Average trip time was 14 minutes, and the average trip length was 1.3 miles.

JUMP Bikes
The pilot program included 500 shared electric bikes from providers including Jump.Jump

The highest concentration of shared mobility rides took place in the city’s downtown (28 percent), beach areas (13 percent), and from the Expo Line Downtown Santa Monica Station (4 percent). Forty-nine percent of shared mobility trips replaced trips that would have otherwise been made by car, either driving alone or using ride-hailing services, and 39 percent of trips replaced walking trips, the study found.

The city conducted a public-awareness campaign around the pilot program. It also installed 107 parking and pickup zones throughout the city to better organize rider parking. Still, code enforcement officers issued 299 citations for a total of 929 violations and impounded more than 1,200 devices for improper parking and other violations during the pilot period.

Shared mobility devices were involved in 122 collisions from January 2017 to September 2019, with 47 percent of those collisions involving a motor vehicle. Seven percent involved pedestrians, 21 percent were caused by riders falling off a device, and 18 percent of collisions involved a fixed object.

Ten percent of the collisions resulted in severe injuries, and 80 percent resulted in a minor visible injury or complaint of pain. There were no emobility fatalities reported during the pilot period.

“Shared electric scooters and bikes are one of the most promising mobility options to compete with drive-alone trips and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. While their initial entry into Santa Monica was disruptive, Santa Monica responded by actively managing change with a watchful, but hopeful eye,” the pilot study states.

“Rather than banning shared mobility service providers, Santa Monica led a nationwide movement to develop an innovative permit program and flexible regulations that allowed shared mobility service providers to operate shared electric scooters and bikes on Santa Monica streets.”

The reports also says that as the city considers its next steps in managing shared emobility, priorities and objectives should include:

  • Better rider behavior, especially sidewalk riding
  • Better devices and data
  • A more manageable operating environment
  • A more affordable, consistent, and reliable service
  • Better organized sidewalks
  • Better alignment with public outcomes
  • Stronger compliance models