Chicago’s Second Shared Electric-Scooter Pilot Concludes
640,000 rides total during four-month trial; City will seek public input in assessing long term viability of shared scooters in Chicago
Mike Claffey, CDOT 312.744.0707 Michael.Claffey@cityofchicago.org
Isaac Reichman, BACP 312.744.2523 Isaac.Reichman@cityofchicago.org
CHICAGO – With the four-month shared e-scooter pilot program ending tomorrow, the City of Chicago is asking the public to take part in a survey as part of an evaluation to determine whether e-scooters should play a permanent role in the City’s transportation landscape.
Preliminary data released by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) show that, while ridership was down compared to the 2019 pilot, changes in the second pilot reduced sidewalk clutter caused by improper parking, reduced overall resident complaints and increased access to shared e-scooters in equity priority areas on the South and West Sides.
“Now that the second pilot is winding down, we invite the public to share their feedback and help us evaluate whether e-scooters make sense as a permanent part of Chicago’s transportation system,” CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi said. “We want to hear from everyone, whether they were a scooter user or not. It’s important that we incorporate feedback from all across the City in our decision-making as we go forward.”
The three participating shared e-scooter vendors – Bird, Lime and Spin – provided approximately 640,000 trips since the pilot launched August 12. In the 2019 pilot, from June 15 to October 15, 2019, riders logged 821,000 trips in an area one-quarter of the size and had one-quarter of the devices of the 2020 pilot. Preliminary data show the average trip length in 2020 was 1.71 miles, 14% longer than the average trip in the 2019 pilot.
One of the crucial questions that City officials intended to explore in the 2020 pilot program was whether e-scooters can effectively improve mobility and accessibility for residents who face elevated economic, health, mobility or accessibility barriers. These issues took on added significance due to the transportation challenges posed by the Covid-19 public health crisis.
The City designated an equity priority area including large portions of the South and West Sides. Each e-scooter vendor was required to deploy 50% of their devices every day in the priority area. Preliminary data show that, on average, 52% of all devices were deployed to the equity priority area, and each vendor’s average daily deployment exceeded the 50% requirement. This marked a significant improvement in vendor compliance over 2019, when vendors deployed only 36% of e-scooters in previously designated priority zones.
In 2020, nearly 160,000 rides - about one-quarter of the trips - took place in the equity priority area on the South & West Sides.
A key objective for the 2020 pilot was to reduce improper parking of e-scooters on sidewalks, with special regard for keeping a safe path of travel for residents with disabilities. To address the challenge, Chicago required that all e-scooters be equipped with a lock and be secured to a fixed object to end a ride. Initial stakeholder feedback and data indicate that e-scooter parking compliance improved significantly in the 2020 pilot. Initial 3-1-1 data show a 79% decrease in complaints-per-day-per-device compared to 2019.
“We are encouraged by the preliminary data we have seen from the second pilot,” said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareño. “This pilot was designed thoughtfully and carefully to test this new mobility option, and we are now going to work with stakeholders to thoroughly examine the data to evaluate whether e-scooters make sense for Chicago in the long term.”
CDOT and BACP are planning a thorough evaluation of the program that will take into account survey results, an analysis of trip data and stakeholder feedback. In addition to the public survey now available – which is being conducted through January 7 – the City is partnering with researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago to better understand rider demographics, trip purpose, mode replacement and ideas for improving any future shared e-scooter service.
The report, including final data, is scheduled to be completed in early 2021. Raw trip data from the 2020 pilot will also be published to the City’s Open Data Portal at that time.
After completing this year’s evaluation, CDOT and BACP will work with residents and the City Council to determine if e-scooters make sense as a long-term approach to shared micro-mobility.
The scooter pilot is one of many strategies Chicago is pursuing under the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge to cut carbon pollution and reach targets set in the Paris Agreement. Shared bicycles and scooters have emerged as a new way for people to travel across their cities, and the pilot may offer a substitute for more carbon-intensive forms of travel for short point-to-point trips and first- and last-mile transit commute connections.
For more information on Chicago’s scooter pilot program, go to: www.chicago.gov/scooters