A new independent report released by global transport consultancy, Steer, and commissioned by shared mobility provider Lime, is calling for the creation of over 10,000 e-bike parking bay locations in London by 2025.
This is to meet growing demand for shared and green transport as Transport for London (TfL) and London Councils plan for London-wide e-bike regulation.
The report highlights how Lime’s e-bike service supports London’s wider transport network through analysis of the operator’s service data and rider survey data, to help inform future recommendations for new London-wide e-bike regulation.
It highlights new figures into the growth of Lime’s service in London in recent years, with more than 1.25 million London Lime riders having taken more than 12 million e-bike trips between January 2019 and March 2023.
In this time, Lime e-bike usage has increased by an average of 10% each month.
As a result of more people choosing shared e-bikes, Lime says its trips have prevented more than one million motor vehicle trips in London, replacing an estimated 2.6 million car/taxi kms-travelled and approximately 370 tonnes of CO2 and 48kgs of particulate matter (PM2.5) savings.
Steer’s analysis found Lime’s e-bike service improves accessibility and connectivity for Londoners.
Key data highlighted that approximately 40% of Lime e-bikes are available in areas with lower public transport availability, and 50% of Lime e-bikes are available in areas with higher levels of deprivation (IoMD Level 0-4), improving access to transport services.
It also showed that 97% of the population within Lime’s service area are typically within a two minute walk of a Lime bike (around 7% of Londoners live within the same distance to tube and rail stations), and the provider’s service helps people connect to local public transport hubs with a third of riders using both Lime e-bikes and public transport on their last trip.
Evidence from the report also highlights how Lime e-bikes help to support policy goals, including London Mayor’s ambition for 80% of trips in London to be made by walking, cycling or public transport by 2041.
The service plays a role in getting more people cycling. Three in five (almost 60%) Lime riders either cycle much more often, or more often since using Lime e-bikes.
In particular, 71% of female riders were not regular cyclists before using Lime e-bikes compared to 52% male riders.
Lime’s service also contributes to greater use of London’s bike lane network, with almost 70% of Lime riders using bike lanes for a part of their trip or the whole trip.
While the report finds strong evidence for the benefits of shared e-bike services, it concludes that new regulation is needed in the context of record demand.
Currently, insufficient parking capacity and disparate regulations between Boroughs remain barriers to further growth and create issues for users and non-users.
The report supports TfL and London Councils’ plans for a new London-wide regulatory approach to e-bikes and provides five key recommendations to inform the new framework:
- Introduce a London-wide shared e-bike service with a standardised service area, user parking and riding rules (including designated parking) -27% of Lime users would cycle more if Lime had a larger, more standardised service area.
- Ensure a high density of designated parking locations to ensure strong usage, maintain convenience, as well as ensure safe and tidy parking – 50% of Lime users responded they would not walk further than 200m to pick up or drop off a bike at a designated parking location. This means approximately 25 parking locations will be needed per km2, equating to >10,000 new parking locations across London.
- Parking locations should be chosen using operator data, and approximately £20m investment should be allocated to funding their creation by 2025 – split between shared e-bike operators and local authorities.
- In the interim, shared e-bike providers should introduce time and location specific in-app rider education features – these should alert users when they cross a borough boundary or enter an area with new parking rules.
- Shared e-bike providers should provide regular data on usage patterns on cycling infrastructure to inform where further infrastructure could be implemented – 33% of Lime users would cycle more if more bike lanes were provided.
Lime and Steer believe these recommendations will ensure shared e-bike services remain convenient for users whilst providing safe and convenient places to park London-wide, preventing pavement obstructions and access issues.
Matthew Clark, associate director at Steer, said: “Since their introduction in London in 2019, shared e-bikes have provided the opportunity for millions of people to try the benefits of an e-bike for the first time.
“Our research demonstrates over this short period of time the benefits that Lime e-bikes have delivered in terms of encouraging new cyclists, improving accessibility for London residents and providing a valuable additional sustainable transport option for millions of people.
“This report quantifies these benefits for the first time and highlights five key recommendations for the industry, TfL and London Councils to further embed the service, increase cycling trips and ensure that the benefits of shared e-bikes are maximised for both riders and non-riders.”
Wayne Ting, global CEO at Lime, added: “Steer’s report clearly identifies how Lime’s e-bike service provides accessibility, connectivity, active travel and mode shift benefits to Londoners.
“We fully agree that the record demand for shared e-bikes in London requires a new regulatory approach, and we support TfL and London Councils in developing these plans. We also see a need to add designated e-bike parking locations across London to keep up with demand.
“This will have the dual benefit of improving parking behaviour, while continuing to extend the benefits e-bikes provide. Lime is ready to step up with funding and partner with local councils to make this dense parking network a reality.”