City Hall looks to Portland to sort out how best to bring scooter shares to Seattle’s streets

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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14 thoughts on “City Hall looks to Portland to sort out how best to bring scooter shares to Seattle’s streets

    • Cyclists will get annoyed at having to deal with them, so likely will just be another excuse to be on the street or sidewalk, thus continuing the saga of underused bike lanes.

  1. I like the idea of Seattle doing a scooter share program combined with existing bike share options. Just hope that city officials consider steps to try and rein in the pile-up of standing or fallen bikes (and soon scooters) at various locations around town that can make pedestrian navigation of sidewalks a challenge.

      • Clearly you (and the city) are being “blind” to the fact that the blind, wheel chair bound, and others are in real risk with these unrestricted sidewalk parkings of these alternate transport options. It’s actually *ridiculous* that no one considered this before any of them got implemented. Maybe the city should ensure such individuals are a part of the decision making process from here on out.

    • Yeah would be really easy to start directing the company and people who use these bikes to stop leaving them perpendicular across sidewalks or at the part of the street where people step off a bus.

  2. I say no to scooters. The city, ie council, has done a poor job of regulating the share bikes. They are left all over the city blocking pedestrians and most riders wear no helmet. I live in a quiet residential neighborhood and bikes are often left for days without being moved .

    • No Kidding, these bikes are left for DAYS? OMG how the heck are you supposed to get around a bike? Things are HUGE! lol this argument is so tired and tbh so LAME.

  3. I usually commute by bike, but sometimes car. I like the idea of trying the scooter share here. I know that the bike shares can sometimes be a nuisance, but I think it has settled down somewhat. Yes, I do see them scattered all over, including in my neighborhood, but this doesn’t bother me. To me they are literal advertisements for taking some other transportation besides a car. Let’s give it a go.

  4. Great, more entitled people to dodge on sidewalks. If there’s a silver lining, perhaps the sidewalks will get so dangerous we can use this as the impetus to get bikes off the sidewalk too.

    • Entitled people riding scooters? Well, they aren’t supposed to ride them on the sidewalk, so remind them of that. I’m a bike commuter and I rarely see any bikes on the sidewalk. I wish more people rode scooters and bikes. Too many of them would be a good problem to have, because that would mean that more people are using something other than cars to get around. Walking is great, too. But, depending one your commute, it’s too easy to just get in your car. So I hope in the near future we are reading articles about the hassle of scooter and bike traffic jams.

  5. Let’s shift that perspective just a little… People park their cars illegally, block sidewalks and curb cuts for the disabled, block intersections and run redlights, and think it’s okay to drive in bike lanes. I say we should ban them! They’re a nuisance, and they’re difficult to get around when they’re blocking me.

  6. the scooter program in Venice beach requires you to take a photo of your parked scooter prior to leaving it. they inform you that if it is not properly parked there will be a fine through the app. for my friend and I it was a little confusing to figure how what constituted a properly parked scooter but I think this is something that can easily be addressed

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