Micromobility Is Thriving in the New ‘Safety Economy’
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the world is shifting from a sharing economy to a safety economy. As consumers emerge from their homes, they seem to be opting for the solitary and hygiene of their own cars, bicycles and walking. Even as economies reopen, given the new priorities, mass transit and other modes of urban transportation can look forward to tough times.
Initially, the pandemic prompted some of the micromobility startups to close down operations in the face of stay-at-home orders, and demand pretty much dried up, according to aNew York Timesanalysisof credit card data. That decline in ridership was driven as much by corporate decisions to shut down operations as it was by the pandemic. Resuming operations in bigger cities may be a smart first step to lure many riders back to the service. Those that have are seeing better numbers, attributed in large part to essential workers. In New York City, Citi Bike expanded service during the pandemic into the Bronx because essential workers needed alternatives to mass transit to get to their workplaces. Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C., also announced plans to expand. Both operations never closed during the pandemic, and both saw demand throughout.
Filling the Gap
In the meantime, shared mobility services have had to look for revenue alternatives. To compensate for decreased ridership, some companies are adding or expanding delivery services for such items as food, medical supplies and groceries.
Even before the pandemic, several large ride-hailing and scooter-sharing operations established relationships with popular food delivery services to enhance revenue. The pandemic only madelast-mile delivery对于大多数城市居民来说更重要，寻找在不留下家庭安全的情况下获取食品，制药和其他必需品的方法。例如，在我们的调查中，42％的受访者表示，他们更多地使用在线杂货店和食品送餐服务。
The new revenue from these operations is helping, but it is probably not enough to compensate for the decline in ridership caused by the coronavirus. For many ride-hailing companies, even a doubling of their food delivery business would only partially offset the double-digit drop in ridership globally.
Contrary to what one might expect, the sharing and safety economies need not be at odds. Mobility companies that embrace a heightened focus on safety and work to reassure riders that they are watching out for their health are the ones that will emerge the strongest. For instance, many bicycle- and scooter-sharing enterprises announced implementation of extensive cleaning protocols, which include wiping down and spraying equipment regularly.