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Bike Sharing on the rise in New York and London

While public transit usage remains well below pre-Covid levels in both cities, bike sharing have seen strong rebounds since the start of the pandemic.

Citi Bike, New York City
Citi Bike, New York City | Photograph © Anthony Fomin - Unsplash

"Analysis by City Monitor has found May-September 2020 brought record-breaking numbers of trips for the bike share schemes in New York City and London. In London, bike share riders took more than a third of a million additional journeys between May and August 2020 compared with the same time period in 2019. New York City pulled past its record number of monthly rides this September with more than 43,000 additional trips during the month.

Additionally, New York saw positive trends in its member-based ridership numbers: trips taken by members (as opposed to casual riders) contributed more to the overall total of journeys taken.

The increase in usage is not incidental: data suggests that Covid-related membership campaigns played a role. In addition to normal membership programmes, all three bike share schemes we analysed – in New York, London and San Francisco – offered free access to essential workers during the pandemic. New York and London’s campaigns are still going, and the former’s offered memberships to a wider array of essential workers. Those two bike shares reported successful returns from those campaigns.

San Francisco’s Bay Wheels, meanwhile, has not seen record numbers, but local circumstances played a role in that, too. In California’s Bay Area, bike share usage increased from initial Covid lockdown periods, but an extreme wildfire season caused air quality issues that likely had an adverse effect on ridership.

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