Regional Eastside bikeshare system will start up in May
One thing is clear after the Bellevue City Council discussed its emerging bikeshare program this week: officials are grateful Seattle went first before an Eastside bikeshare could be launched.
“I drive around Seattle quite a bit … I think we have something to show us how not to do things,” said Bellevue Councilmember John Stokes. “But this is something that has worked in a lot of cities … we’re innovating and we’re willing to go out and make things happen and work together.”
The Bellevue council discussed a proposed bikeshare pilot similar to Seattle’s on Monday, March 19. Seattle’s pilot has become a guinea pig for cities like Bellevue to develop their own, slightly tweaked program. For example, Bellevue will be the only city in America to launch an entirely electric bikeshare system, according to Clifford Chirls, a member of Bellevue’s transportation commission.
“We didn’t want to see the situation that many of us have seen with bikes all over the place in Seattle, and many that have arrived on our shores,” Chirls said, noting one lesson learned from Seattle. “We were concerned about clutter.”
Chirls wasn’t alone with that sentiment as the Eastside bikeshare was discussed.
“I appreciate the fact we’ve already learned some lessons from Seattle,” Councilmember Jared Nieuwenhuis said. “Waiting for a full report from Seattle might not benefit us that much from some of the things I’ve seen. Limiting the eBikes makes a lot of sense … I think we may get more use of the bikes if they are eBikes with our terrain and our hills.”
Bellevue is among a handful of Eastside bikeshare programs. Bellevue Transportation Director Dave Berg informed the council that Kirkland and Redmond will allow bikeshare operators in their cities beginning in May.
Bothell has already created a bikeshare program of its own. Limebike is currently up and running there.
“Both Redmond and Kirkland are targeting a launch and permitting bikeshare in May of this year; this dockless type of bikeshare,” Berg said. “You’ve probably already seen these bikes in Bellevue. You see them all over the place, throughout the region, whether they are permitted or not. So we are trying to stay ahead of this with a permitting process.”
Bellevue will accept applications from bikeshare operators in April. And like Redmond and Kirkland, it will allow companies to launch onto its streets in May. Bellevue will evaluate how well the program is operating in September and again in February 2019. The city council will revisit the experiment next March.