Plan would double Seattle’s bike share fleet, add more designated bike parking

(Image: SDOT)

The city’s department of transportation is so tickled pink — and orange and yellow and lime green — with floating bike share in Seattle that it wants to double the number of rental bikes it allows in the city.

The Seattle City Council’s transportation committee is set to take up the proposal to double the number of bikes allowed in Seattle along with adding a new fourth provider to the mix Tuesday afternoon.

The proposals made as part of the “Bike Share Annual Permit Recommendations” process would:

  • Create a bike share parking area program. We heard loud and clear from residents and business owners that the annual permitting program needs more clarity on where bikes are parked and more overall parking capacity to make sure the bikes are not blocking the public right-of-way, as well as private driveways and building entrances. So we’re recommending the City expand and evolve how it approaches designated parking areas for bike shares. In the short term, we’ll begin with on-sidewalk bike stalls like the ones we piloted in Ballard. Before we move forward on any in-street parking areas, we’ll talk to communities to get their feedback.
  • Ensure the bike share program advances equity in every neighborhood in Seattle and is accessible for our lower-income neighbors. We’re recommending the City increases its equity requirements, like requiring all-City coverage, having a plan to reach low-income residents, and providing options to residents who don’t have credit cards or smartphones.
  • Allow for more growth to make sure every part of Seattle is being served by the program. We’re proposing to add a fourth company to the pilot and allow up to 20,000 bikes, compared to the existing 10,000.
  • Create a proactive compliance and enforcement program. During the pilot, we learned that we need to be more proactive in making sure companies and their customers are complying with the program. That’s why we will require companies to educate their customers on safe riding and parking habits. We’ll have a neutral third party do audits every six months on parking, maintenance, and data. We’ll penalize the companies that fail to comply.
  • Increase the permit fee so the program remains no-cost to the City and so can we address the lessons learned in the pilot. We’ll be increasing the permit fee to $250,000 per year, per company.

In June, CHS reported on some of the datasets behind the proposals and findings including a surprisingly high percentage of bikes parked correctly and, less surprisingly, a shockingly low percentage of riders choosing to wear a helmet.

The full SDOT presentation on the new proposals is below.

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13 thoughts on “Plan would double Seattle’s bike share fleet, add more designated bike parking

  1. According to a recent study, many of the bikes are unrideable due to maintenance issue, internet dead spots, or (for the electric ones) loss of charge. They need all need to work on better maintenance (along with increasing number of bikes somewhat). And I wish those bike share companies were more involved in advocating for safer streets for biking. And that the city (and the bike share companies) were involved in educating people about helmet use.

    • Yeah, I’m getting pretty fed up with people riding their bike share bikes while wearing headphones that are presumably blasting music, while they’re oblivious to the world around them.

      I also wish there’d be some accountability for the bikes that keep getting deposited in the middle of the sidewalk and causing accessibility problems.

  2. The bikeshare program isn’t without teething issues, but it’s been a huge success overall (1.5 million rides!!!) and I’m really glad to see it expand.

    Also, the “study” was a few seattle times reporters compiling the rides they themselves took – about 100 over 9 months.

  3. I’m disappointed that the council is leaning on letting more of these bikes into the city. SDOT does not have a credible plan or policies in effect to manage these bikes. I live in a quiet residential area of the city and am seeing more of them left for days at a time unused. until the city comes up with a better system it should take a time-out.

    • Yeah it’s so annoying to see bikes sitting around the neighborhood for days at a time unused. Totally different from all of those cars sitting around the neighborhood for days at a time unused. Totally.

      • It seems premature to me to double the number of bikes before the “pilot” program has been thoroughly evaluated, and so far that hasn’t happened. Also, won’t the plan to build “bike parking areas” actually decrease useage? (because they won’t be available in as many areas).

      • @d Reeves….I admit that I haven’t read the reports. Could you provide a link?

        Has the “pilot program” actually ended? If not, I think the whole program needs final assessment after the pilot is completed.

      • @d reeves:

        Bob is a concern troll, who states his personal, myopic world view as fact. As he subsequently admitted, he hasn’t actually read any of the reports or studies before making his assessment (and never does). Whether or not he does this on purpose shouldn’t detract from the fact that he does it constantly.

        A quick Google search shows that he original six pilot program ended in January and was a huge success. They increased the amounts of bikes allowed and added an extended six month pilot program that is now over and resulted in the cementation of rules and permits that this article is about.

        I just hope that the fourth company isn’t Uber’s 20 MPH electric bikes. That’s the last thing our bike infrastructure needs.

      • @d Reeves: I pled guilty to not reading the reports, but there’s no need for personal attacks. Sometimes it’s good to read data before expressing an opinion, such as with this issue, but not always…just depends on the topic.

      • @Bob:

        You’re a respected reader of this blog and you do contribute a lot of good posts, but the reason I called out your BS is exactly what you just posted:

        Sometimes it’s good to read data before expressing an opinion, such as with this issue, but not always…just depends on the topic.

        No, no, no, a thousand times no! It is ALWAYS good to read into the data and facts and be generally knowledgeable about the subject you are opining on. Too many people these days do exactly what you just excused and our country is no better for it!

        I apologize for what devolved into a personal attack, but I was frustrated at what I saw was a string of ignorant, baseless posts that seem to be common from you (and others) these days.

    • @walks dogs — why is that a problem?
      If anything, the per-bike fees are going to put pressure on the bikeshare companies to make sure they’re profitable and getting used.

  4. The last one I rented was the third in a series of bikes showing fully-charged on the app but were not. I could have walked to my destination practically by then. And the front wheel was lose plus brakes had literally no effect, It was a wobbly and nerve-wracking trip. Good thing my ride was mostly uphill. This was the second time I had that experience out of like 4 samples. I agree about teething pains, but until the more bikes are found in ridable, safe condition, I will reserve this for emergencies. I’m against doubling it, for now.