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London shared e-scooter journeys pass 500,000 milestone

20 January 2022

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London shared e-scooter journeys pass 500,000 milestone

The London shared e-scooter trial passed a milestone last month with over 500,000 rides recorded, split across the three operators involved.

The milestone was passed almost exactly six months after the launch in early June. London joins Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham in hitting this target (the capital’s programme launched much later than the others here).

The latest data available shows 520,000 journeys taking place on shared e-scooters within the 10 London boroughs taking part, between 7 June and 19 December. A maximum fleet size of 3,585 e-scooters is currently permitted (around 1,200 each), with the operators generally stocking at or near their limits. This has risen from just 600 in total available in the first month. 

The most recent four-week reporting period saw both a reduction in the number of journeys from the previous one (2,700 per day compared with 3,400 per day) along with a rise in serious injuries reported, from none to one per week, both statistics perhaps indicative of less pleasant winter riding conditions. Taking the full trial length so far, there have been 13 serious injuries reported, approximately one per 40,000 rides.

Since the addition of Camden borough to the trial area in late September, average journey times and distances have remained broadly constant, at 2.5km (1.5 miles) and 18 minutes, suggesting an average speed (including stops at lights) of just five miles per hour. The vehicles have their top speed capped at around 12mph. 

Each scooter is used a bit less than once a day, suggesting significant oversupply of e-scooters for the journeys being made. This may be due to the effects of all three operators providing a similar service in the same areas and so needing to directly compete for visibility at each parking point. The shape of the operating area, sparseness of permitted parking point in some areas, and relatively high costs of use, compared with public transport alternatives, may also be hindering many potential journeys.  

As the trial continues through Spring, we expect to see the trip numbers increase again, so London’s e-scooter trials should exceed one million journeys before their one year anniversary. The milestone will be reached earlier should additional boroughs, such as Hounslow or Brent, come on board the trial programme this Spring. 

All three operators are hedging their bets by looking beyond e-scooters. Lime has long operated a fleet of electric bicycles and continues to provide the service across the e-scooter trial area in London. TIER recently launched a number of shared electric bicycles in Islington borough (only), which is not taking part in the e-scooter trials. This does mean that to take a TIER micromobility journey from Westminster to Angel, you have to swap your e-scooter for an electric bicycle at the “border” by King’s Cross station. Dott, the final e-scooter operator in the trial, had also been planning on introducing electric bikes although this has been delayed, the company concentrating on adding bikes to their larger operations in France for now. 

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