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More scooter share companies rolling into Washington cities

Scooter shares continue to grow in the Northwest. (Lime)

Scooter share companies are the next wave of transportation in many cities — just look around Washington. But despite its fervor for bikeshare, the city of Seattle remains slow to adopt the scooter counterpart.

Debbie Cockrell with The News Tribune reports that Tacoma is slated for a scooter battle with multiple companies targeting the city. Sun Scooter of Southern California is among the first to publicly state they are looking to roll into Tacoma. Once the city establishes a permanent scooter program — likely in the fall — it will accept applications from interested scooter and bikeshare companies.

Tacoma has operated a scooter pilot program with Bird and Lime since 2018. Bird did not renew its contract with the city. Lime has about 500 scooters in Tacoma and is licensed to operate through September. Lime also launched its LimePod carsharing service in Tacoma.

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Sun Scooter says it plans to be competitive in Tacoma. The company will offer helmets. It will also unlock the scooters for free, and then charge 15-30 cents per mile.

Tacoma is not alone in the emerging scooter share market. It is just one out of four Washington cities where Lime is operating a scooter system. Scooters recently were launched in Bothell. They are also in Spokane, Everett, and Redmond. But unlike the other cities, Seattle won’t allow scooters in town just yet.

So, that’s right, Bothell has scooters before Seattle.

According to Ethan Bergerson with the Seattle Department of Transportation, the city is crafting a “community-driven approach to a scooter share pilot program.” There is no word on when that pilot will happen.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of feedback on this issue – including both support for a pilot program and public concerns about safety, equity, and sidewalk accessibility,” he said. “We’re committed to hearing and engaging with the community so that we can design a scooter share pilot program which meets our key objections including safety, fairness to riders, indemnification, and equity.”

Bergerson also points out that the city is aiming to tweak its bikeshare program, mostly around the issue of bike parking.

SDOT started 2019 with a goal of increasing the number of bike racks in the city by 20 percent. That equates to an additional 800 racks. Bergerson says that SDOT is on track to reaching that goal. Along with this effort is an educational program to get bikeshare users to properly park the bikes. A video series has been distributed to show how people with disabilities have problems navigating around bikes parked in the way.

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In June, SDOT also knocked down the number of bikes Lime and Jump were allowed to operate in the city by 1,000 each. This was in response to a rise reckless bike parking.

Bergerson says that making progress on bikeshare goals will be important as the city considers adding scooters to the mix. GeekWire reports that Seattle is slowly considering a pilot program for companies such as Lime and Bird. But the city is placing four conditions on companies that want in Seattle, including “equity and accessibility, fairness to riders, safety and indemnification.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also addressed the lingering scooter issue in May, saying that the city should try them out, but adding “let’s do it right.”

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