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While the ridehailing side of the business struggled throughout the pandemic, Lyft reportedly saw a major rise in their micromobility side with more than 52,000 new riders using the company’s bicycles and e-scooters just in Santa Monica alone.
As communities were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of people across race, gender, and socioeconomic status, including critical workers, began using Lyft’s micromobility services during these unprecedented times. In a statement, Head of Transit, Bike, and Scooter Policy at Lyft Caroline Samponaro reportedly said: “If you want to reduce personal car ownership and bolster public transit systems in cities, this data clearly shows that shared micromobility plays an important role in building a multimodal alternative that meets the needs of riders.”
Lyft reported that 14% of riders in Santa Monica said they started taking more shared micromobility trips since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those riders, 41% said that this was in order to change up their routine and to get outside during lockdown, and 50% said that it would have been difficult or even impossible for them to access essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic without the availability of shared micromobility.
“The pandemic has changed the way people get around, and we are seeing encouraging signs that shared bikes and scooters are creating positive impacts on equity, sustainability, and the built environment in our communities,” Samponaro said.
The company report stated that more than 89,000 new riders tried Lyft’s shared scooter service in 2020 across the U.S. Moreover, 81% of U.S. riders have used shared micromobility services to get to or from public transit, with 53% of riders identifying as members of racial and/or ethnic minority groups.
But talking about Santa Monica specifically, 33% of people using Lyft’s shared micromobiltiy services identified as women, 18% identified as members of LGBT+ community and 33% were students. The average age for people using bikes and scooters was 31 years old in 2020.
The median household income for riders in Santa Monica was $45,000. About 18% of riders with household incomes under $50,000 use shared micromobility to connect to public transit on a weekly basis. About 38% of riders in Santa Monica do not own or lease a personal vehicle.
In order for the U.S. to meet its climate goals people must drive less altogether. Despite meteoric drops in vehicle miles travelled because of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, transportation-related emissions were still the country’s single biggest driver of climate change in 2020.
Per an analysis done by the Rocky Mountain Institute, the U.S. transportation sector needs to reduce carbon emissions 43% by 2030 in order to align with 1.5oC climate goal. Moreover, according to the “State of the Air 2021” report recently released, the five-county Los Angeles region ranks as the metro area with the highest smog levels in the country — mostly because of motor vehicle traffic.
And one of the simplest yet crucial ways we can reduce car dependency and make decarbonization far easier is to enhance transit, biking, and walking. These strategies could bring meaningful co-benefits, including saving people money on transportation, improving safety and public health, and reducing barriers to economic mobility to those who can’t afford to drive.