How One Ride-Hailing Company Is Encouraging a Shift to Micromobility

A small change in the design of ride-hailing apps can make users more likely to choose walking or biking for short trips.

2 minute read

February 27, 2022, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Mobility App

Daria Nepriakhina / Unsplash

"In the U.S., studies have found that ride-hailing increases traffic, shrinks the number of people using public transportation, and hasn’t had much impact on car ownership, despite early arguments that Uber and Lyft might help reduce the number of cars on roads," writes Adele Peters in Fast Company. But can ride-hailing companies actually play a role in reducing car trips? European mobility app Bolt thinks so, and worked with Norway’s Institute of Transport Economics to prove it.

For a pilot in 10 European cities, when customers requested a ride for a short trip—less than 3 kilometers, or 1.9 miles—the app showed some users the nearest scooter, highlighted in green, as the second option on the screen. (Previously, if a user searched for rides, they would only see available drivers; and similarly, they would only see nearby scooters if they searched specifically for that option.) For those who saw the nudge, an average of 60% decided to shift from a car to a scooter ride, if the scooter was within 3 blocks.

Bolt cofounder Martin Villig said "By converting shorter journeys into scooter rides, we want to show people there is an alternative to owning a private car in a city and the benefits that can have in making urban areas more people-friendly." The minor change in how the app displays modes shows that small nudges can have a significant impact on mode choices.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 in Fast Company

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