Exclusive FREE NOW mobility data: are we finally back to normal?


Europe’s leading mobility platform reveals post-COVID mobility data for major cities across Europe

  • Suburbs and outskirts of major cities have grown in importance
  • Mobility movement in city centers increases by 80 % year-on-year
  • Parks have gained more popularity during the last year

Hamburg, June 24nd 2021 - New data from multi-mobility app FREE NOW reveals that cities in Europe are starting to come back to life post-COVID. As more facilities such as restaurants, bars, shopping centers and gyms open up again and restrictions either eased or are lifted urban crowds are re-populating the city centers again. FREE NOW, Europe’s leading mobility platform, reveals exclusive data to show the differences of movement within cities before, during and after the restrictions related to COVID-19.

Especially suburbs see more traffic after the restrictions lifted than before

Suburbs and outskirts of major European cities have grown in importance during and especially after the pandemic. Lisbon is an example of this: before COVID-19 hit the city, the taxis were usually used within the city center. However, while the demand for mobility decreased drastically during the hard lockdown in the city centers, FREE NOW data reveals a record increased movement in typical dormitory neighbourhoods as a considerable number of people are still working from home and prefer meeting friends and family outside of the city center. A study by McKinsey suggests, that many people avoid mass transportation when going to the city centers and choose safer, individual solutions whenever possible[1].

Madrid is another example of how city centers have tended to expand due to COVID-19. Compared to 2019 mobility has extended to the outskirts of the centre of the city. Instead of gathering in the hot spots of Madrid’s city center, the population is taking advantage of shopping possibilities and leisure activities in the outer city area.

During COVID Restrictions: less trips to airports, more trips to parks 

It’s no surprise that the COVID restrictions led to less international travel, consequently airport trips declined as well. However, FREE NOW registered that in March and April this year, green spaces such as parks were more popular than before and after the lockdown. Wherever the government announced a slight easing of restrictions, FREE NOW registered a strong uplift of requests. In Dublin, the government announced that from April 12th onwards two households can meet outdoors, away from their gardens. This small change alone led to an increase of 52 % week on week destinations being mainly parks.


Hospitality openings lead to record weekends in Dublin and London

The reopening of the pubs in London mid April, led to a staggering 88% increase in ride requests week over week and 898% year over year as people truly embraced the new state of the nation, with plenty of movement around London and surrounding boroughs. FREE NOW saw similar results in Dublin, where outdoor hospitality reopened mid May: Saturday, May 15th was the busiest day of the year so far on the FREE NOW app, with a significant 270% increase YoY as the nation enjoyed the first weekend of outdoor hospitality.

“After a long year of restriction, we have seen a pattern of record increases in rides on the FREE NOW platform after markets reopen across Europe. In May 2021, we overall noticed an increase of rides by 80% compared to last year in European city centers, by the end of the summer we expect to be back to pre-COVID levels”, says James Brooke, Chief Product Officer of FREE NOW.

Micro mobility options on the rise

Next to an increased demand for ride hailing, the data also shows that micro mobility options are getting more popular. “The demand for alternative mobility options has grown, especially between March and May this year we noticed an increase of 125% in bookings of micro mobility options and car-sharing in our app. By expanding massively our mobility offerings like eScooters and eMopeds together with our renowned partners we have the widest choice of multimodality options on the FREE NOW platform for users across Europe. We are meeting the trend of on-demand consumption of urban societies: People want to get easily from A to B to C – no matter how, where and when.”

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[1] McKinsey: Five COVID-19 aftershocks reshaping mobility’s future




FREE NOW is the multi-service mobility joint venture backed by BMW Group and Daimler AG. Next to ride hailing, FREE NOW also offers micro-mobility services and car sharing. It consists of the services FREE NOW (10 European markets), Βeat (5 Latin American and 1 European market) and hive (e-scooter and e-bikes in 3 European markets). Summed up, those services currently attract 47 million users in 15 markets and more than 150 cities. FREE NOW is therefore the biggest multi-service mobility provider in Europe and the fastest-growing ride-hailer in Latin America. FREE NOW works with various third party providers to offer their customers an even wider range of options to get from A to B. In total, more than 2,200 employees in around 35 offices work for the services of FREE NOW, which is led by CEO Marc Berg.

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