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Seattle slow to adopt scooters, company aims to speed things up

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

As Seattle officials sluggishly move down the road on the issue of scooters, scooter sharing companies are drumming up public support to speed things up.

Lime has begun an email campaign to the Seattle City Council. In fact, it will do most of the work for you via this convenient website.

More scooter share companies rolling into Washington

As the website states:

Seattleites want sustainable, affordable, and fun micromobility transportation to get around the city quickly and reliably.

Tacoma, Spokane, Remond, and Bothell are all benefiting from scooter programs that are replacing short car trips and cutting down on carbon emissions. In Portland, the city used scooters when transit lines shut down for 2 weeks.

With Seattle facing a 10-week major light rail disruption in January and possible highway 99 tunnel tolling this fall, shouldn’t Seattle have scooters by December to help with mobility?

Sign our petition to let SDOT know that you support a Seattle e-scooter pilot program now, before Seattle Squeeze 2.0 is upon us!

The emails are targeted at the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation and three council members. Seattle’s at-large Councilmembers Lorena González and Teresa Mosqueda are included, also whichever council member represents the resident’s district. The pre-written portion of the email reads:

I’m writing to share my support for bringing an e-scooter sharing pilot program to Seattle in 2019.

It’s important that we find ways to make Seattle feel more connected and accessible. We also need alternatives to cars so we can reduce pollution and traffic congestion.

I appreciate you being a leader in helping Seattle embrace new, sustainable and affordable mobility options and I hope to see a scooter sharing program take place this year!

Lime recommends that users add a personal, unique line when they use their guided email. Users are also given the option to send a tweet.

Seattle scooter share

While other Washington cities have added electric scooters to their transportation mix, Seattle has held off, instead focusing on its existing bikeshare program.

“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,” SDOT’s Ethan Bergerson told MyNorthwest in early August. “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.”

This comes after Mayor Jenny Durkan wrote a guest editorial for GeekWire in May, stating that Seattle should have scooters, but “do it right.” She argued that equity and safety should be priorities before allowing them in the city. At that time, the city aimed to develop a scooter pilot program for the council to vote on by fall. The city wanted operators agreed to four conditions: equity and accessibility, fairness to riders, safety and indemnification.

Curbed reported this week that Seattle is just now developing a scooter pilot program, but the soonest the scooters will be allowed is sometime in 2020. In the meantime, the city wants to engage various community groups. That’s not fast enough for companies like Lime. Lime customers received text messages on Friday, guiding them to the website for the email campaign.

“Want scooter sharing in Seattle THIS year? Let the City Council know!” the text message read.

The scooter issue has long been debated in Seattle. SPIN bikeshare was an early company in town and was part of the city’s bikeshare pilot program to test the transportation method. But shortly after the pilot ended, the company pulled out of Seattle in 2018. A spokesperson for SPIN released a statement about why. Among Seattle’s high permit fees, scooters were a core issue:

Since our launch in Seattle, we have added electric scooters to our fleet, and we’ve found that these vehicles generate more than 20 times the consumer demand than that of bikes. We have since made the decision to focus on bringing scooters, and other forms of pedal-less electric mobility, to our markets around the country.

…Unfortunately, the City will not be allowing scooters in the new permit at this time. We were also disappointed that the City left the flat fee unchanged in the final version of the new permit requirements. In light of these realities, Spin has made the difficult decision to not apply for the bikeshare permit. Nevertheless, we intend to continue working with the City to offer our shared scooters to Seattleites soon.

While Seattle mulls the scooter issue over the next year, nearby communities are already moving forward with scooter programs. Tacoma has had scooters in town for months. That city is expecting a handful of new scooter sharing companies to apply for permits to operate in town.

Test driving a LimePod in Seattle

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