When it comes to big city bike share systems, Seattle is a freak. When its hobbled, city-funded docked system was a bust, it pioneered the U.S. rollout of floating bicycle shares from providers like Lime and Jump. Its relatively robust floating system is a rarity. Rarer still, Seattle hasn’t added scooters to its floating fleet.
Mayor Jenny Durkan now says the city is ready to join the wave of cities legalizing scooters to join the shared fleet — but the approach will be lawyerly.
“Seattle was the first city in the country to pilot free-floating bike share – and it’s taken off,” a statement from the mayor on scooter shares reads. “Now, we have a permanent program for companies to operate bike share in Seattle. Up next: let’s try scooters in Seattle. But let’s do it right by promoting safety, requiring fairness for riders and indemnification for the City, focusing on equity, and by building on – not losing – the best of bike share.”
Thursday, chair of the City Council’s transportation and sustainability committee Mike O’Brien is hosting a “Scooter Share Demo, Lunch & Learn” at City Hall. The session will include “a panel presentation of experts in the field who will describe the ways in which scooter share has enhanced mobility in major cities all over the world.”
How can Seattle integrate this transportation option into our city safely and thoughtfully, taking into consideration the needs of all people in our city? The Lunch and Learn aims to answer that question. The presentation will feature panelists from the City of Portland, Multnomah County Health Department and two scooter companies. The luncheon will also look at other cities across the U.S. who have scooter programs implemented, and feature examples of the ways in which scooters provide transportation to residents and tourists nationally and internally.
The Portland lessons (PDF) are plenty. Riders can get hurt. The injury rate recorded during the pilot in Portland was 2.2 per 10,000 miles traveled. Of those, more than 80% were the results of falls, not collisions or other mishaps. And, yes, you are supposed to wear helmet when riding in Portland, per the law. And, finally, poorly parked scooters were also a problem during the Portland pilot.
But the numbers from Portland also show this: The electric scooters are popular. Lime says (PDF) its scooters served more than 100,000 different people in the city of 650,000 over an 120-day pilot period last year. Portland city officials say the scooters also appealed to people “new to active transportation” and that all riders prefer riding in protected bike lanes.
For now, it’s just a day of demos and slide decks at Seattle City Hall, but, given the numbers, the opportunity is there for Seattle to add scooters to its one of a kind share system.
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