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CoGo Ridership Down in 2018

Brent Warren Brent Warren CoGo Ridership Down in 2018Lime scooters positioned next to the CoGo station near Lane Avenue, photo by Brent Warren.
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2018 saw the first significant decline in CoGo ridership since the bike share system was established in 2013. Just over 40,700 rides were logged on the network over the course of 2018, while 2017 saw more than 52,000 rides, according to data available on the CoGo website and compiled by Columbus Underground.

CoGo Rides

Whether that decline can be attributed to the introduction of dockless bikes and scooters to Columbus last summer – or to something more prosaic like the weather – is up for debate.

Yay Bikes Executive Director Catherine Girves, who sits on the CoGo Advisory Board, said that she did wonder at first if Lime and Bird coming into the market would have a negative effect on CoGo ridership, but her thoughts have changed as she has taken a closer look at some of the numbers now available from other cities.

Washington DC, for example, is a place where an existing docked system appears to have successfully weathered the introduction of several dockless bike and scooter companies into the market over the last year.

DC’s docked system is called Capital Bikeshare; it functions like CoGo in that users are required to return bikes to fixed stations (Lime and Bird are both examples of dockless systems, in which devices can be located with an app and left pretty much anywhere).

“It took a few months, but then the (Capital Bikeshare) numbers jumped,” said Girves, who hypothesized that more people being brought into the shared-mobility world seemed to increase awareness and usage of the already-established bike share system; “what you saw was a rising tide lifting all boats.”

Girves added that a newly expanded CoGo network — 26 stations were added in 2018, mostly at the end of the year — may also help to draw more commuters into the network, a key segment of users for successful docked systems.

Brian Hoyt, Communications and Marketing Manager of the Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks, is hopeful that the expanded network will bring gains in ridership; “we think it’s about access and ease of use.”

Hoyt also pointed to another factor that might explain the lower number of rides this year: 2018 was the wettest year on record in Columbus.

The end of 2018 saw another major change in the bike share landscape when Motivate, the company that has operated CoGo since its inception, was acquired by the ride-hailing company Lyft.

It’s still unclear what impact this news will have on CoGo operations, although it’s expected that the bikes will show up on the Lyft app sometime in 2019.

A Lyft spokesperson provided the following statement when asked to comment on 2018 ridership numbers and the future of the system in Columbus; “We’re thrilled to add CoGo to the Lyft Bikes network and look forward to working with city partners to improve and grow the network for our riders.”

For more information, visit cogobikeshare.com.

Related: Will Columbus Ever Build More Protected Bike Lanes? Scooter Users May Have a Say

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