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How bikeshares could ultimately affect Seattle transportation

A JUMP bike at Seattle's Magnuson Park. (Dyer Oxley, MyNorthwest)

Bikeshares have had a rocky relationship with Seattle. Some have kicked into high gear, while others have hit the brakes. But the entrance of Uber and Lyft into the Seattle market could indicate a new era of bikesharing in town — an era backed by big money.

It perhaps marks one of the largest blows to car habits in Seattle. Only time will tell.

“Uber got into this, now Lyft is into this — they know something,” said KIRO Nights host Gee Scott. “They’ve done some studies. The good news is that, whatever you decide to ride, I do think at some point this is going to start pulling people out of cars – especially in the Seattle area.”

Another perspective is that Seattle is the latest battleground between Uber and Lyft. Producer Drew Barth notes that whenever Uber does something, Lyft tries to beat them. That competition could indicate a big push for Seattle customers.

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“It’s certainly going to get to the idea that you no longer need to own a form of transportation,” Drew said. “If there is some form of transportation you want to utilize, you will be able to pay for it as a service.”

Bikeshares in competition

Lime has been operating in Seattle since July 2017, as part of the city’s pilot program. Three companies took part in the pilot — only Lime stuck around.

“Lime is the OG in town, they’ve been here a long time,” Gee said, noting that Lyft and Uber bring the bikeshare total back up to three in Seattle. “Which of the three in 2-3 years is going to be leading the charge here in Seattle?”

Lime’s early advantage may have them lasting, according to Drew. They may have customers already in the habit of using their app, and don’t want to change.

“Uber, though, has so much money and such a good infrastructure, it’s going to be tough to beat,” he said.

“I don’t care about which one is the most expensive, I care about which one is the most convenient and the easiest,” Gee added. “If something has the best customer service, I’m on it. That’s the reason why I was so hooked on Uber in the very beginning — because things are so easy. Even though I do feel like I pay a little bit more with Uber, I’m still hooked. I’m still there.”

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Unpopular opinion: You can live in Seattle without a car, you just don’t want to

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