Shared e-scooters help Edmontonians travel safely during COVID-19

Dec 3, 2020 11:30:00 AM / by Madeline Kernan

distanced view of Edmonton, Canada city skyline
Photo by Alicia Paydli on Unsplash

Today, Ride Report, in collaboration with Lime and Bird Canada, released our exciting report showing high e-scooter usage in Edmonton, including frequent travel to downtown and business improvement districts and replacement of car travel.

From June 1, 2020 to October 31, 2020, more than 600,000 trips were taken on shared e-scooters. 

“Edmonton has had one of the most well-used e-scooter programs in North America,” Jonathan Hopkins, Lime’s Director of Strategic Development for Canada & North West United States, said. “During a year where everything seemed to change, people are turning to e-scooters for more essential trips, and longer trips, than they ever have before.”

Our data analysis revealed several promising trends:

Usage grows with availability

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Total fleet size varied throughout the period of June 1, 2020 to October 31, 2020, with a daily average of 1,638 vehicles, and a maximum of 2,693 vehicles in mid-September. Higher availability of vehicles coincided with higher usage, indicating steady adoption of shared e-scooters.

Trips per vehicle per day, an indicator of utilization, remained strong as fleet size grew to meet traveler demand. We advise cities that two or more trips per vehicle per day signals a healthy system. Edmonton averaged 2.44 trips per vehicle per day even amidst the pandemic.

Shared e-scooters support trips to local businesses and public transportation

As COVID-19 presented many challenges to local businesses, shared scooters offered a socially-distanced, safe form of transportation. More than half of all trips during the June to October period started in one of Edmonton’s BIAs.

10% of these trips originated within 100 metres of a light rail transit line, suggesting that riders are using e-scooters as a first-and-last-kilometre solution to supplement existing forms of transportation.

2020 saw an increase in long distance trips

The majority of trips in Edmonton from June to October 2020 were less than 1km, which is similar to the length of trips seen over the same period in 2019.
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However, 2020 saw a significant increase in trips over 10km. In 2019, only 0.5% of trips were over 10km in distance, while in 2020 4% of all trips exceeded that distance. According to a survey in 2020 by Bird Canada, when asked "If e-scooters didn't exist, how would you have gotten to your destination?" 30% of respondents would have used a car -- meaning e-scooters are providing a sustainable alternative.

Aggregate travel data highlights high-traffic routes and transportation needs

Ride Report aggregates all trip data and displays them using a hexagonal grid approach, with filtering options by date and time of day. For Edmonton, this highlighted the majority of trips starting in downtown Edmonton and Old Strathcona.

When analyzed further, the tool displays the most frequent routes, in this case, around Jasper Ave. NW and 102 Ave. NW, and provides insight into travel infrastructure needs including provision of parking corrals, protected bike lanes and others.

Shared e-scooter programs thrive in the era of COVID-19

Edmonton has seen strong adoption of shared e-scooters, in spite of the challenges presented by COVID-19. It has offered residents a socially distant, safe way to travel that helps support Edmonton’s sustainability and transit goals.

"Having worked with Alberta Health Services and the City of Edmonton to make e-scooters available during COVID-19, we are pleased to see growing numbers of Edmontonians embracing this alternative way to move around their city,” Bird Canada CEO Stewart Lyons said. “E-scooters have truly become an additional travel option relied upon by residents."

For more of our insights into how shared e-scooters are supporting city travel during COVID-19, download the full report.

Tags: Cities

Madeline Kernan

Written by Madeline Kernan