Seattle sees positive results from scooter share pilot, lays groundwork for full-time program

Apr 18, 2022, 6:55 AM

Seattle scooter share...

Scooters parked in Seattle. (SDOT courtesy photo)

(SDOT courtesy photo)

An evaluation of electric scooters in Seattle yielded largely positive results, detailing how they were used during a one-year pilot period, and the city’s plans for the future.

E-scooters roll out in Seattle as part of one-year pilot program

The pilot program rank between September 2020 and October 2021, starting with permits for three companies — Lime, Link, and Wheels — each of whom were allowed to start with fleets of 2,000 scooters each. In July of 2021, Spin was added as a fourth provider.

During that period, the Seattle Department of Transportation estimates that roughly 260,000 riders took 1.4 million scooter share trips. In a fall 2021 survey where 4,700 of riders responded, 43% reported using e-scooters for social/recreational reasons. Another 22% said they used them as part of their daily commute, while 15% rode them to or from restaurants, bars, and takeout, 12% for errands, and 6% for shopping.

Scooters also proved helpful for those using public transit, with 21% of riders using them to connect to buses or trains. Of those, “over half said they would have used a taxi, ride-hail, or personal vehicle if scooter share had not been available.”

One of the larger concerns leading up to the approval of the pilot program surrounded the potential for injuries, an issue which has been prevalent in other cities. That said, SDOT found that although 11% of those surveyed reported experiencing an injury while using an e-scooter, just 2.3% sought medical attention. The most prominent reasons cited for those injuries included raised pavement, potholes, debris, and “changes in the right-of-way.”

Why e-scooters have been dangerous for riders in cities like Seattle

“Some noted driver inattentiveness and being struck or needing to veer away from those driving too close,” SDOT described.

In other cities, law enforcement and local leaders have reported an increase in instances where people have used bikeshares to flee from crimes. A review of over 8,000 police reports in Seattle did not see a similar trend take shape for the city’s e-scooters, finding just 17 incidents “in which a scooter rider was involved.” And in some of those case, SDOT could also “not verify if the scooter was privately owned or part of the scooter share pilot program.

With Seattle’s pilot program having wrapped up last fall, the city will now begin accepting applications for a “competitive permit application process,” where as many as four scooter share operators will be chosen to operate full-time.

“This could include companies operating today, as well as new ones,” SDOT clarified, detailing how it plans to focus on growing ridership equity in underserved areas, distributing helmets, and working to reduce obstructions caused by scooters parked in public rights of way.

You can read SDOT’s full evaluation at this link.

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Seattle sees positive results from scooter share pilot, lays groundwork for full-time program