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How scooter life might change Seattle roads, habits

An e-scooter demonstration at Seattle City Hall. (Daron Casey, KTTH)

Mayor Durkan recently gave the green light to scooters in Seattle, and is currently in the process of drafting a scootershare permit pilot, prioritizing issues of safety, legal liability, and how it would fit with bikeshares. Fortunately, we can see peek in on other cities testing out similar programs.

Ben Schneider of CityLab joined the Candy, Mike and Todd Show to discuss how his life in San Francisco has changed since scooters became a viable transportation option.

“I did this program from Bird, the scooter company which allows you to rent a scooter for a month, the same scooter like as if you owned it, so it’s not the same thing as these pay-by-the-minute programs,” he said. “What I found is that it basically replaced my bike … When I had a scooter that would take me the same places with no effort, I decided to choose that instead and honestly for those who haven’t tried the scooter, I find it really fun.”

“I was having a great time with my scooter and was pretty excited about the program. But unfortunately 19 days into my experience with the scooter it was stolen,” he added.

Mayor Durkan announces pilot program for e-scooters in Seattle

Despite that, Schneider says the experience was a positive one. With the Bird program, you can rent the scooter for a month and only your phone can activate it again during that time, so you could use it for a few miles and then hop on a bus, and then find the scooter waiting for you when you get back.

To make scooters a regular form of commuting, Schneider says that it’s not the scooters that need to be improved, but the city infrastructure surrounding them.

“If you have protected bike lanes everywhere, it’s not just the kind of people who are used to urban cycling who have the confidence to get on a scooter and go somewhere. It’s just about anybody,” he said. “I think we need to start rethinking how the streets are designed because right now streets are really only safe, for the most part, for cars, and so if we start to think about the street as a place with different mobility levels; for instance, a car lane, a bike / scooter lane, and then a sidewalk lane, as it were, I think that starts to create a street that’s actually safe for everybody.”

Are scooters too dangerous for Seattle?

Schneider says the basic drawbacks are to be expected, whether it’s bad weather conditions, and scooters not necessarily being ideal for families. But with supportive infrastructure, he can see them taking off.

“I mean if you’re a person who’s in relatively good shape taking a journey that’s less than two miles, there’s really no good reason not to take a scooter,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and the negative externalities are minuscule compared to taking your SUV for that same trip.”

Listen to The Candy, Mike, and Todd Show weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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