It’s been awhile since bike shares made a headline on CHS — the last time we checked in on the industry was here in June 2020 as the share systems made a return to Seattle with Lime taking over Uber’s bike presence here.
But this week, a new style of bike joined the city’s hodgepodge fleet of bike and scooter shares. Here’s what SDOT has to say about Veo:
The Veo bicycles coming to Seattle are electric-assist bikes, which are designed for people with a wide range of physical abilities, and provide a comfortable, easy-to-use mobility option. By allowing riders to use the bicycle pedals and the hand-activated electric power assist feature via the handlebars to get some extra help accelerating, these bikes can be especially useful in navigating Seattle’s numerous hills and inclines.
Veo is starting with 500 Cosmo e-bikes, a pedal version of their sit-down electric scooter, on the streets of Seattle with a thousand more by spring.
The bike and scooter share companies pay the City of Seattle for permits to operate within the city. In 2020, Seattle finally rolled out scooter share licenses in the mix with its restricted market for bike shares.
In December, the city reports Lime only had 680 share bikes deployed in the city but had been maintaining a fleet of around 1,200 to 1,300 through summer and fall. Seattle’s scooter share population is much more robust with around 4,000 scooters available this month in the city from four different providers.
Parking, storage, and maintenance remain an issue with scooters and bikes frequently found flipped on the ground or blocking sidewalks.
As a transportation alternative, the shares, especially in the central city and on Capitol Hill, can be hugely convenient. But the pricing sometimes only looks good in comparison to the soaring costs of taking an Uber or Lyft. And the systems can’t compete with the bus or light rail if your destination is along established lines.
The city says its bike and scooter share programs have been successful. Since 2019, SDOT says there have been nearly 2.9 million bike share trips and approximately 9.8 million miles traveled on bike share in Seattle. Estimates for the scooter share program, meanwhile, show there have been more than 2.2 million miles traveled to date.
Wednesday afternoon, meanwhile, SDOT will present an update (PDF) on its scooter program to the city council’s transportation committee.
According to the briefing, the current pilot program is planning to extend existing licenses while working to continue to press for more equity and cheaper pricing in the systems. Safety concerns remain an issue. The program reports one fatality involving the scooter shares since their 2020 launch.
The morning briefing will also set the table for new “Emerging Mobility Technology” on Seattle streets including “Autonomous Vehicles.” Self-driving cars from Amazon-owned Zoox completed “small-scale AV testing in Seattle” in November, according to the city.