Private bike share companies have been gearing up to race into Seattle ever since Pronto failed. The city will fire the starter’s pistol on July 7, after which thousands of new bikes will descend upon Seattle’s streets and sidewalks.
As a result, the Seattle Department of Transportation stands to take in hundreds of thousands of dollars in permitting fees.
“We are thrilled that Seattle has re-opened the bike share program to a new generation of providers, and LimeBike has been working closely with local stakeholders to ensure that we can meet the city’s expectations and residents’ needs and be on-the-ground as quickly as possible,” said LimeBike CEO Toby Sun.
But LimeBike is not the only company benefiting from a newly-minted bike share pilot in Seattle. Spin bike share is also “thrilled.” It has been active in Seattle in the months leading up to the pilot, even starting a philanthropic effort to fund bike safety and awareness programs.
“SDOT’s forward thinking transportation policies bring us one step closer to offering Spin’s affordable, equitable smart stationless bikeshare system to all neighborhoods across Seattle … Spin is committed to improving urban living in Seattle,” said Spin CEO Derrick Ko.
Up to 10 companies have been waiting to roll into town, but Seattle had to come up with a pilot permit first. The recently drafted rules largely deal with dockless systems (unlike Pronto). Similar to Car2Go, customers find an unused bike with their smart phone, unlock it, pay $1 and ride. The pilot will run until the end of the year. Bike share companies are required to have no less than 500 bikes on the road, but the rules allow up to thousands to eventually come into town.
Seattle’s bike share pilot basics:
- Companies can have up to 1,000 bikes after the first month; 2,000 the second month; and more the month after that.
- There can be no more than 340 bikes per square mile.
- Bikes can be parked in the landscape / furniture zone of sidewalks that are more than 3 feet wide, and cannot be parked on sidewalk corners.
- Riders are required to use their own helmet.
- Bikes can be parked on streets without sidewalks as long as they do not impede pedestrian zones or travel lanes.
- Bikes cannot be parked at bus stops, shelters, loading zones, parklets or streeteries, or in front of driveways / entryways.
- The city will remove any bike that has been parked and unused for seven days.
Seattle bike share: Pay to park
The companies will have to sell a lot of $1 rides to make their businesses successful in Seattle. The Seattle Department of Transportation has attached a series of fees for them to operate in town.
- $146 annual permit
- $209 per hour for the city to review the permits (the city estimates this will total $1,672 for one permit)
- Additional permitting fees for any bicycle docks (all current companies are dockless)
- $15 per bike paid to SDOT’s Transit & Mobility Division for administrative time during the pilot
SDOT could take in the largest amount of money from the $15 per bike fee. For one company to start in Seattle with the minimum 500 bikes, it would add up to $7,500. If that one company opted to expand up to 2,000 bikes, it would then add up to $30,000. Should all 10 rumored companies take part in the pilot, that’s $300,000 to SDOT.
Once the bike share pilot is over at the end of 2017, SDOT will consider how to manage the systems moving forward.