Bike Shares Expand on the Eastside Amidst Concerns Over New Taxes to Seattle’s Program
Many of us on the Eastside have slowly noticed the influx of Limebike and Ofo bicycles for rent on the Eastside, a product of the dockless bike share programs that have cropped up throughout the city of Seattle and now on the Eastside, with Bothell implementing a program, and Bellevue and Redmond close behind. Now, as Kirkland Reporter outlines, the city of Kirkland is the latest Eastside enclave to consider starting a bike share pilot, as it was the topic of City Council debate in early July.
The article outlines the teamwork involved in these new efforts, as “Kirkland, Redmond and Bellevue are working together to coordinate requirements for safe operations and vendor responsiveness, and have been communicating with Seattle to learn from its experiences.” As Dave Asher, Kirkland City Council member tells the Reporter, “Seattle has nicely gone through a whole lot of growing pains for our benefit.”
Within six months of launching the pilot program, Seattle reported that nearly 470,000 rides were logged on 10,000 bikes, with “an estimated one-third of the city population” trying them out. Bellevue is expected to launch their program later in July, adding 400 electric-assist bikes to start. All involved are in agreeance that additional public outreach will be required to address safety and other concerns before committing to a pilot program. “During the pilot, the city would require companies to track and share data on the total number of rides, average ride duration, average time to resolve a complaint, number of reported collisions and more.” The Kirkland City Council is expected to meet once more in July to discuss permitting and fees and is expected to take action in early August.
The news of the growing Eastside bike share opportunities comes as King 5 News reports that Seattle faces backlash as they work to establish “a permanent floating bike share program and new fees to go along with it.”
Since the pilot program launched last year, there have been 1.4 million bike rides with many Seattleites trying the service at least once. As King 5 notes, despite the program’s success, “there have been complaints about the parking of the bikes and management, and some proponents believe a fee system may provide more oversight.”
Lisa Feng, the General Manager of Ofo Seattle, one of the most popular services, tells King 5 “Seattle’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 is commendable and we’re excited to help the city get there, but these excessive bike fees, the highest in the country, would be a step backward in reducing carbon emissions by severely limiting access to greener, more affordable transportation.”
Seattle City Council is expected to announce the full breadth of their program by August 31st.