Scooter-sharing is a growing industry throughout the county; it was only time the phenomenon would find its way to Washington state and, more importantly, Seattle.
Mayor Jenny Durkan is certainly open to the possibilities of scooter-sharing systems entering the Seattle market. A post on the site GeekWire outlines the mayor’s thoughts on this subject. Among her concerns were safety as well as the impact on the city’s expanded bike-sharing program. In terms of safety, she points to research indicating the increase in accidents among scooter users. It’s certainly an issue that ranks at the top with any city involved with creating sharing programs. For that reason, the mayor believes a pilot program can help iron out the problems. Secondary to her thoughts on safety, she’s also determined to keep the city’s bike-sharing system, currently ranging over more than 7000 vehicles, operating at normal levels. To her, this is more of an equal balance situation than a winner takes all deal.
Mayor Durkan isn’t the only official to take notice. The Seattle City Council have held meetings and spoken out about the topic. Councilman Mike O’Brien has been especially vocal about this support for scooter-sharing. During one meeting, he stated he was willing to do “everything” in the council’s power to make this a reality. With some of the industry’s top names looking to park their products throughout the city, O’Brien echoed the need for balance between bike and scooters. All of this does raise concerns with various community groups that worry about the lack of space for those citizens with disabilities. They’ve also been vocal with local leaders at events such as city council meetings. With concerns and questions in mind, the city is looking towards a pilot program that focuses on permits as a way of starting out and monitoring progress.
For a glimpse of Seattle’s possible future, the city should look no further than Everett and Tacoma; both cities have scooter-sharing programs in various states of operation. Like many cities, they’re dealing with the pros and cons of bringing these services to their own citizens. Safety is a major factor, much like Seattle’s city leaders and citizen’s group. With untrained and unlicensed riders taking to sidewalks and roadways, there’s an obvious risk. Even with the recommended padding and helmets, which are not included and rarely worn by riders. It also affects pedestrians who have no other spaces to walk in. With accidents in other cities, the issues have become an increasing concern. It’s not just the pedestrians that might face safety risks, drivers also have to be on the lookout for the scooter users who may not be following road safety laws.
Everett offers another beacon for the Seattle experience with its own pilot program. Already in operation, the program is featuring Lime scooters and aims to introduce the concept of sharing in a safe and friendly manner. In line with Seattle’s own worries on the subject, local officials sought answers from Lime representatives and people in the know when it comes to the subject.
Seattle’s scooter-sharing program is not scheduled to begin until 2020. Until then, officials are seeking to implement a permit program as important details are worked out. If they keep an eye on other cities, Seattle will be more than ready for the rewards and challenges that accompany this urban transportation method.