Lime sets summer record, touts 35% e-scooter trip increase so far this year

A first-generation Lime scooter being ridden on NE Weidler in 2019. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

When it comes to shared electric scooters in Portland, Lime’s where it’s at. The company announced this week that they just had their best summer ever and have surpassed 3 million trips since they launched in Portland in 2017.

According to the company, Lime riders have taken 570,504 trips so far this year, a 35% increase from the same time period in 2022.

The trend from Lime illustrates how e-scooter ridership continues to show steady gains in Portland. It’s also why the Portland Bureau of Transportation has committed to making the shared e-scooter program permanent. As we shared in April, PBOT has announced changes to how it wants companies to operate scooters in Portland and the agency plans to winnow down the number of operators to make rentals easier for the public.

Currently three companies operate scooters in Portland: Lime, Spin and Bird.

Lime credits some of their success to investments making their scooter easier and safer to ride.

Lime dominates the field and accounts for nearly 7 out of every 10 scooter rides in Portland. And while we tend to focus more on Biketown around here, when it comes to shared micromobility overall, between January and June of this year, PBOT’s data dashboard says e-scooters made 65% of all micromobility trips.

Lime says since 2017 their riders have kept an estimated 722,000 car trips off the road, saving an estimated 367 metric tons of carbon emissions and 41,500 gallons of gas. The company’s “Lime Access” affordability program has also shown serious growth with its members taking 164% more rides in 2023 than in 2022.

In a press release, Lime credited their success to investments in their scooters. The new Gen 4 models used in Portland have beefed up tires, better suspension, stronger parts, an integrated light, and swappable batteries (which makes balancing and recharging much more efficient). The company also said they’ve done well in Portland because of upgrades PBOT has made in transportation infrastructure, “like bike lanes and bike parking, which are always the best thing a city can do to encourage residents and visitors to travel on two wheels.”

Portland’s e-scooter program boasts about 1,600 scooters and serves a 145 square-mile area. Learn more on the PBOT website.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Fred
Fred
5 months ago

I have never even considered using an e-scooter since none of the early programs served SW Portland. Maybe Lime now serves this area? I haven’t been bothered to find out, though the other day I saw a guy near Gabriel Park doing something with his phone next to a scooter, so maybe he was about to commute to work, or something.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
5 months ago

Given that almost none of the people who have returned to work away from home chose to commute by bike and more chose transit over driving, I wonder if e-scooter use is replacing cycling for many Portlanders.

dw
dw
5 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

My theory is that it’s replacing either biking or transit trips, with a minuscule percentage of “replaced” car trips. If someone has a car, they aren’t going to go out of their way to walk, find a scooter, unlock it, and then pay “extra” to get around on it when the car is parked right there in the driveway/garage/street.

D2
D2
5 months ago
Reply to  dw

In my experience they’re used pretty heavily by tourists. Friends that visit and don’t bring bikes it’s a much more direct option than transit and cheaper than rideshare.

I never really use them locally, but I could see using one going to an event where bike parking is dubious but I have some other plan to get home. Also useful where street parking is difficult/expensive.

PS
PS
5 months ago

What is the average ride length, so we can actually assess the likelihood these are replacing car trips?

dw
dw
5 months ago
Reply to  PS

I don’t know if that’s an accurate metric. My neighbor drives a quarter mile to pick up Taco Bell at least once a week

PS
PS
5 months ago
Reply to  dw

Anecdotal tail case scenarios don’t make my assertion that these replace active transit modes more frequently than driving less plausible.

PS
PS
5 months ago

I pulled the data, median trip distance is less than a mile and the average is 1.3 miles. It seems reasonable to try to understand how Lime is quantifying 722,000 car trips not taken because they exist.

Brendan
Brendan
5 months ago

I use Lime once every couple of weeks, and I’ve noticed a large increase in scooter quality over the past year. In 2021 and 2022, half the scooters I’d get would have messed up brakes or steering. Whatever Lime is doing with regards to improved maintenance is working and is reflected in the numbers.

dw
dw
5 months ago

Personally, I don’t like riding scooters because I’m really tall and those tiny wheels feel really unstable compared to a bike. Especially on our potholed and poorly patched streets.

But, I think they are a cool concept that works for a lot of people, and this is good news.

I wish that the scooters – and Biketown – would move away from the per minute model and move to per-mile pricing. Charging per minute incentivizes people to ride too fast for the conditions and pull risky and illegal maneuvers like running red lights and riding the wrong way. Going by distance would allow users to more accurately predict the cost of their trip as well.

I would also love to see an education campaign by PBOT to help new riders know how to stay safe. As much as I loathe vehicular cycling types, having some basic skills can really increase your confidence and safety riding. Stuff like signaling, riding in a visible part of the lane, being predictable, and when and how to use crosswalks on two wheels. I see a lot of folks riding Lime scooters super irresponsibly, but I think it’s a culture problem rather than an engineering/enforcement problem.

Let’s also ticket all the impatient, impulsive, and impaired drivers who are creating a street culture that is keeping people off two wheels in the first place.

Lava Rose
Lava Rose
5 months ago

I don’t ride them but something about seeing a bunch of millennials riding around in packs like Back to the Future, makes my heart smile. If I see a scooter poorly parked on the sidewalk I move it out of the way with a smile. My little way of contributing support for scooters and keeping the peace. Easy Peasy, Limey Sweep.

AndyK
AndyK
5 months ago
Reply to  Lava Rose

Did a scooter write this?

Jermaine P
Jermaine P
5 months ago

I’ve used a scooter twice. It was sort of fun and let me do a one way bike trip after I dropped mine off for repair. I see mostly tourists on them but some locals. A fair number seem to be thrown in the bushes or in the gutter.

Ross
Ross
5 months ago

Lime gets a lit of hate but I love using them for short trips and not having to worry about my personal bike being stolen. They aren’t replacing bikes, they’re replacing short car trips and long walks.

AndyK
AndyK
5 months ago

^ Been a card carrying member of the scooter mafia since day 1. It’s impossible to overstate the improvements they have made since the first gen. They are great, now, but here’s PSAs anyway: always check the brakes, use two hands at all times, watch for poor road conditions ahead, and resist the urge to turn your head around while riding.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
5 months ago
Reply to  AndyK

use two hands at all times … and resist the urge to turn your head around while riding.

with all due respect, this is bad advice — and especially so for people who have mastered basic scooting skills. one handed scooting is required to signal turns and not being vigilant of vehicles coming from behind puts a user at risk.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
5 months ago

Never understood why we celebrate and encourage the surrender of public sidewalks to VC-backed private transportation companies like Lime.