City bikes have replaced public transport journeys during the coronavirus pandemic

City bikes have continued to be popular during the coronavirus pandemic, too. In Helsinki and Espoo, nearly one in every three city bikers responded that they have used city bikes instead of public transport. Compared to the previous year, people have used city bikes less when commuting to work and more when running errands or doing physical exercise. People’s satisfaction with different service features and the NPS score indicating how willing people are to recommend the service remain at a good level despite a slight fall compared to the previous year.

This year, the city bike season was launched in Helsinki and Espoo earlier than normally due to the coronavirus epidemic. In the exceptional situation, the use of city bikes has decreased by 20% compared to 2019. The season will run until the end of October. The users of the service were able to give feedback about their season by taking part in our survey.

The level of user fees and their clarity, registering as a user and buying a pass, clarity of instructions and condition of the stations received the highest scores.  The condition of bikes, returning a bike to a full station, docking bikes at the stations and availability of bikes were mentioned as development areas.

The majority of city bikers use city bikes a couple of times per week (34%) or a couple of times per month (25%). City bikes were used once a day or more often by 21% of respondents  compared to 26% last year.

City bikes are mostly used for leisure journeys (80%) and for personal business journeys (63%). Nearly half of all respondents stated that they use bikes for commuting, and 20% use them to do physical exercise.

“The significance of incidental exercise related to the use of city bikes seems to have increased during the epidemic. People probably use city bikes less for commuting because they increasingly work from home. However, people have used city bikes more for various personal business journeys when compared to 2019,” says Tarja Jääskeläinen, senior advisor at HSL.

Mobility has changed during the pandemic

The survey also included questions about how the users of city bikes used to move around before the pandemic and what means they mostly have used during it. Before the pandemic, the most popular mode of transport was public transport, because it had been the most common mode of transport for 47% of respondents. However, the use of public transport had decreased significantly during the pandemic: only 15% of respondents said that they mostly travel by public transport.

By contrast, the use of car had increased during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, 7% of respondents mostly used they cars to move around, but the percentage had increased to 15% during the pandemic. In addition, people had increasingly walked and cycled.

Nearly 40% of city bikers responded that the coronavirus pandemic has not affected the way they use city bikes. Less than a third of the respondents stated that their use of city bikes had increased, and a corresponding number of respondents stated that their use of city bikes had decreased.

Almost all respondents said that they had started to use city bikes more to avoid using public transport. In addition, nearly a third had wanted to use bikes for recreation and to do physical exercise. The people who had used city bikes less explained that they had generally moved around less than previously.

People using the bikes in both Helsinki and Espoo are the most satisfied

The majority of respondents, 74%, use the city bikes in Helsinki, while 8% use them in Espoo and 18% in both cities. In Espoo, the number of city bike users driving a car is higher than in Helsinki. In Espoo, city bikes were also used more to replace car journeys than in Helsinki.

People using city bikes both in Helsinki and Espoo use them more often and are more willing to recommend the service to their friends than people who use the bikes only in Helsinki or Espoo. 

The city bike customer survey was conducted online in Finnish, Swedish and English between 24 and 30 September. The link to the survey was sent to the respondents in a customer newsletter, and it was also shared in social media channels. Approximately 13% of people who have used city bikes this season completed the survey. A prize draw for 25 HSL day ticket codes was held for all respondents. The prizes have been delivered to the winners.

The results of the survey will be used to develop the city bike service, because we want to maintain the high quality of the service.


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