The impact of e-scooters on the modal split

Over the past few years, e-scooters have made an entrance to the street life of cities across the globe. Opinions are divided on the potential the impact the e-scooters can have on the means of transport people use for their trips (also known as the transport modal split). Some see e-scooters as a promising opportunity to reduce car dependency while others worry that they replace transport modes with a relatively low environmental impact, such as walking, cycling and public transport.

In this story, we will look at some of the evidence that is emerging on this subject and show that the answer to the question is not universal and depends on the local context in a particular city.

The interactive map below shows a selection of the relevant evidence available in the Urbanixm knowledge engine. The knowledge engine is in a proof-of-concept state of development and more evidence will be added over time.

In the following sections we briefly discuss the available evidence and formulate conclusions but encourage readers to follow links to the original content to get a in-depth understanding of the topic.


The figure below shows results from several places where e-scooter users have been asked about which transport mode their e-scooter trips are replacing.

Let’s now take a look at how the arrival of e-scooters have impacted particular transport modes.

Active transport

In all places we looked at, e-scooters are replacing considerable amount of active transport trips such as biking and walking. On the low side, 30% of e-scooter trips in Chicago, Illinois, would have been walked or biked if the scooters had not been available, compared to 66% in Oslo, Norway.

Public transport

The impact of e-scooters on public transport is context dependent. In Paris, France, 36% of e-scooter trips would otherwise have been carried out by public transport and 23% in Oslo, Norway. However, in Christchurch, New Zealand and Portland, Oregon, the corresponding number is only 3% and 10%, respectively.

Cars & taxis

Looking at the share of car trips replaced by e-scooters is scale is considerable in cities in the United States which are generally more car dominated, 34% in Portland, Oregon and 43% in Chicago, Illinois. In European cities, which are generally less car dependent the percentages are lower, 8% and 13% in Oslo, Norway and Paris, France, respectively.


The question whether e-scooters are helpful to decrease car dependence or whether they reduce active and public transport does not seem to have a simple answer and depends on many factors, such as city design, transport culture and the local modal split.

Further reading

For a more in-depth discussion of the topic we recommend peer reviewed articles such as, Wang et al. What travel modes do shared e-scooters displace? A review of recent research findings (2022).

For a tailor made analysis of the topic, Börkur Sigurbjörnsson offers data storytelling consultancy services producing detailed reports or presentations.

Author: Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

Börkur Sigurbjörnsson is a data and information scientist who discovers and communicates data-driven insights through storytelling and helps early-stage startups put ideas into action.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *