Energetic and Progressive: The Rapid Growth of Shared Mobility in the United States, with E-Bikes as a Key Driver

Shared mobility, as a new mode of transportation, has not only altered people’s commuting habits but has also influenced the urban transportation landscape. From the introduction of modern public bicycles by Velib in major metropolises like Paris to the advent of dockless shared bikes in China, and now the rapid development of electric shared mobility, shared transportation has rapidly gained popularity worldwide. In this wave, electric bicycles are playing a crucial role as a primary driving force in the U.S. shared mobility market.

Rise of Shared Electric Bikes

According to statistics, the number of micro-mobility trips in North America increased by 5 million in 2022 compared to 2021, marking a 40% growth since 2018. Particularly, after the pandemic, there has been a noticeable recovery in the shared micro-mobility sector in the United States, with a total of 113 million trips recorded throughout the year. The popularity of electric bicycles in the shared mobility ecosystem has been on the rise, with three-quarters of shared systems expanding their fleets of electric bikes. In the United States, the number of shared electric bike trips increased from 14.5 million in 2021 to 20 million in 2022. Although, as of 2022, shared electric bikes only constitute 9% of the North American micro-mobility fleet, they account for 18% of the total trips.

Expansion of Shared Electric Bikes

Shared electric bikes initially appeared in cities on the West Coast of the United States, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. As recognition of the advantages of electric bikes in shared mobility grew, many shared fleets began expanding the operational scope of electric bikes. Here are some statistics on the expansion of shared electric bikes in 2023:

  1. In March 2023, the number of electric bikes for Capital Bikeshare more than doubled, introducing 850 new electric bikes, along with plans to add 80 charging stations and 2,500 electric bikes.
  2. In December 2023, the Boston-area bike-sharing system plans to add 750 electric bikes to its fleet, expecting the Bluebikes fleet to increase to 5,000 bikes covering 500 stations by next summer.
  3. Breckenridge in Colorado plans to add 50 new bikes in 2024 and increase the number of new bike centers by 8.

User Behavior Patterns

Different shared micro-mobility tools exhibit variations in usage patterns. According to a study, government-managed and supported station-based public bicycles are mainly used for commuting to work or school, providing a convenient option for urban residents in need of short-distance transportation. In contrast, newer private electric scootershare services are more commonly used for tourism and leisure travel, catering to those seeking urban exploration and recreational trips.

Furthermore, shared electric bikes are used more for entertainment than for commuting, especially on weekends or holidays. A study in the Netherlands indicated that electric bikes are most frequently used for single-purpose journeys related to work, emphasizing their practicality in daily life.

These research findings reflect the flexibility and versatility of shared electric bikes, making them able to meet the commuting needs of different groups. Whether for daily commuting or leisurely activities, electric bikes provide urban residents with more choices, promoting the diversification of shared mobility.

From a data perspective, shared electric bikes are steadily gaining prominence in the shared mobility market, with an increasing number of trips. While currently representing only a fraction of shared mobility numbers, they contribute a significant proportion to the total mileage. The expansion of shared electric bikes is an undeniable trend, with many shared fleets continuously increasing the number of electric bikes to meet growing demand. Shared electric bikes play a critical role in the U.S. shared mobility sector, and with ongoing technological and infrastructural improvements, they will continue to drive innovation in transportation and contribute to the enhancement of urban mobility, providing residents with more sustainable and efficient travel options.

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