Seattle bikeshare company studying ‘virtual parking’

Dec 28, 2017, 9:01 AM | Updated: 10:53 am
A Limebike parked on top of Seattle's Fremont Troll. (SDOT)

The top of the Fremont Troll or bottom of Lake Union are apparently not acceptable places to leave your bikeshare ride.

RELATED: Bikeshare companies prove they are relevant

Seattle’s three bikeshare companies are touting high usage statistics, but parking has become an issue, with riders leaving the bikes strewn about the city.

Limebike, one of the bikeshare companies that added those yellow and green bikes to Seattle’s streets, may take action. According to recode, the company is “beginning to explore” what are being called “virtual parking zones.”

Essentially, Limebike users would find designated parking areas with the app currently used to rent the company’s bikes. Of course, riders could simply ignore virtual parking areas. That’s why, according to recode, the company has also considered incentive programs for people who follow the rules.

In an interview earlier this year with KIRO 7, Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson Norm Mah said it is up to the bikeshare companies to inform customers on how to park bicycles properly. The companies agreed to this when they obtained a permit from the city. However, there is no penalty for riders who ignore the rules, KIRO 7 reported.

Virtual parking spaces are likely better than the alternative.

During a city transportation committee meeting in September, officials discussed the idea of requiring bikeshare companies to use stations in the future — at least for areas where free-floating parking became a problem. Forcing people to ride from one station to another was — partially — why the city’s now-defunct bikeshare program Pronto experienced such a quick demise. Having physical stations also added another layer to the permitting system.

The city has monitored the bikeshares throughout the pilot program, which will wrap up at the end of this year. Mah told KIRO 7 the city will evaluate the pilot to “determine what works best for Seattle.”

Meanwhile, the bikeshare companies will continue to operate after the pilot ends.

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Seattle bikeshare company studying ‘virtual parking’