Seattle council gives final approval to e-scooter pilot program

Sep 9, 2020, 8:41 AM | Updated: 9:35 am

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

(Daron Casey, KTTH)

Seattle councilmembers gave final approval to the city’s electric scooter pilot program Tuesday, voting 8-1 to move it forward into implementation.

Spin electric scooters join White Center pilot project Monday

The approval came in the form of a pair of bills — one alters Seattle’s traffic codes to allow electric scooters to operate on roadways, shoulders, alleys, bicycle lanes, and public paths, but not sidewalks. The other sets ground rules for permitting fees.

The city completed an environmental review for e-scooters in May, and began accepting applications from scootershare companies in July. Nine companies expressed interest in contracting with the city to provide scooters to Seattle “as early as this fall.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation hopes to distribute permits to three companies operating 500 scooters each, “with the potential to grow up to 2,000 scooters per company in the future if things go well.”

District 4 Councilmember and Transportation Committee Chair Alex Pedersen was the lone vote against Tuesday’s legislation, voicing concerns over safety and liability.

Rules begin to take shape for e-scooters in Seattle

Seattle has been developing its scootershare pilot since 2019, originally targeting an early to mid 2020 launch date before encountering delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

The city’s pilot program will focus on placing scooters in areas affected by the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, including South Park, Delridge, West Seattle, and Georgetown.

Companies will also be required to have “reduced-rate plans for low income communities,” while making a minimum of 10% of scooter fleets available in “neighborhoods with a higher proportion of communities of color, immigrants, refugees, people with low incomes, and limited English-proficient individuals.”

A similar e-scooter pilot program was recently enacted in King County’s unincorporated North Highline neighborhood, including White Center. The new electric scooters, which are currently available for residents, are operated by Lime and Spin. San Francisco-based Spin was a new addition to the North Highline scooter pilot on Monday, placing up to 50 scooters at popular transit stops across White Center.

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Seattle council gives final approval to e-scooter pilot program