Will Austin see more scooters, e-bikes this summer?

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin recorded more than 716,000 scooter and e-bike trips between January and March, up more than 68% since the same period in 2021, city officials said in a press release on Monday.

Despite the marked increase since the first quarter of 2021, overall micromobility ridership was still 40% lower than in 2019 – the last time the South by Southwest conference and festivals were held before the pandemic.

Over 882,000 miles were flown between January and March, with an average of over 8,000 trips per day.

While March saw an increase in e-bike and scooter travel thanks to SXSW, the month was still not the biggest for ridership numbers in the age of the pandemic. This crown belongs to the third quarter of 2021 – of July, August and September – with more than a million trips and 1.2 million miles flown.

Currently, Bird, Lime, LINK and Wheels are the four licensed e-scooter and e-bike operators in Austin. The city allows permits for e-bike and scooter operators twice a year, with the next application deadline being May 13.

Here is the current breakdown of e-bikes and scooters in Austin, by company:

  • Bird: 4,500 scooters
  • Lime: 5,850 scooters; 500 bikes
  • LINK: 1,500 scooters
  • Wheels: 1,750 seated scooters

Bird, Lime, LINK and Wheels are allowed to renew their permits, if they wish, before the May 13 deadline. A spokesperson for the Austin Department of Transportation said that while these four operators cannot apply for additional devices in the downtown core, they may apply for additional device permits “if assigned to the outside of downtown.

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