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Ridership down 22% in city’s second e-scooter pilot program

An e-scooter rider or not, the city wants your thoughts on the program before deciding whether to make it permanent.

Locks are attached to Lime scooters, which will allow users to lock the scooters to a rack after use.
Chicago’s second trial of e-scooters ends Saturday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Ridership during the city’s second e-scooter pilot program was down 22% compared with last year’s four-month trial, the city said Friday.

This year’s pilot program ends Saturday. The three participating e-scooter vendors — Bird, Lime and Spin — provided about 640,000 trips since the program launched Aug. 12, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.

During the initial four-month pilot that ran from June 15 to Oct. 15 last year, riders logged 821,000 trips in an area one-quarter of the size and had one-quarter of the devices of the 2020 pilot.

The average trip length in 2020 was 1.71 miles, 14% longer than the average trip in the 2019 pilot.

The city shared ridership numbers Friday and asked the public to take part in an online survey that will help transportation planners determine if e-scooters should become a permanent fixture on city streets.

“We want to hear from everyone, whether they were a scooter user or not,” CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi said in a statement. “It’s important that we incorporate feedback from all across the city in our decision-making as we go forward.”

The survey is being conducted through Jan. 7. The fate of e-scooters in Chicago will be decided in the next few months. A link to the survey can be found on CDOT’s website at www.chicago.gov/scooters.

The problem of scooters being left willy-nilly around the city and sidewalks was reduced because scooters this time around were required to be locked to a fixed object in between rides. Initial 311 data show a 79% decrease in complaints-per-day-per-device compared to 2019, according to CDOT.

More scooters were placed in parts of the South and West sides designated as “equity priority areas” this year than in 2019. Vendors deployed 52% of their scooters in these area in 2020, up from 36% last year.

City officials aim to figure out whether e-scooters can effectively improve mobility for residents who face economic, health, mobility or accessibility barriers.