Seattle is moving forward with a pilot program for scooter sharing that will begin this fall
After the Transportation Committee approved the plan On Wednesday, the Seattle City Council will vote on the pilot program on Sept. 8.
Last year, Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan promised to start a pilot scooter sharing program, but the process has bogged down because of bureaucratic hurdles and other municipal priorities.
The city is ready to test new ways of getting around after nine scooter companies generated interest after an environmental review and application process.
Initially, three companies will be allowed to operate up to 500 scooters;That number could rise to 2,000.
The city says scooters can help with COVID-19 recovery and address travel challenges caused by the closure of the West Seattle Bridge by opting for open-air travel instead of car travel.It cites data showing that on "basic" trips, scooters in Portland, Detroit and Baltimore take twice as long and are twice as likely.
Every time a scooter is serviced, the company must disinfect all the common contact points.They must also offer discount programs to low-income communities and deploy at least 10 percent to "communities with a high percentage of people of color, immigrants, refugees, low-income people and people with limited English proficiency."
The scooter has a top speed of 15 MPH.Cycling is allowed on bike lanes, public roads and on roads with a speed limit of 25 MPH or less.Scooters are not allowed on the pavement unless they are part of a cycling route.They can be parked on bike racks, in the furniture area (the area between the curb and the leading edge of the pavement) and in the corral of scooters.
The city will also "encourage the use of helmets";City law already requires scooter riders to wear helmets.Safety is a key issue for city leaders, as studies show that injuries related to scooters are on the rise, especially among unhelmeted riders.
The company will have to pay for each scooter, which will fund the pilot's management.
The pilot will include a standing scooter and a pedal scooter with a seat.
Scooters will join bike-sharing on the streets of Seattle.The bike-sharing service disappeared earlier this year due to the pandemic, but Lime said earlier this month that it planned to buy back 2,000 JUMP bikes in Seattle by the fall.
Lime also said the long-term viability of the bike service depends on whether city officials allow their scooter-sharing programs to operate as well, since electric scooters are more profitable.
This week, Lime began testing a pilot scooter program in King County, in the White Center area south of Downtown Seattle.
Seattle, one of the first US cities to adopt seatless bike sharing, launched a pilot program in 2017 and officially implemented the program in 2018.The city spent time before allowing scooters, even as surrounding communities (such as Redmond, Tacoma, and Bossel) embraced them.
"The COVID-19 public health crisis has many uncertainties in the near future, but as more and more people return to work and other activities, traffic and congestion management remain critical," the city wrote in a blog post."Like scooter-sharing, we think scooter-sharing could be an important option for getting people where they need to go."