City considers emerging technologies and right-of-way on streets, sidewalks

SEATTLE — Seattle city leaders are expected to discuss emerging transit technology Tuesday and how it’s allowed to be used on city streets and sidewalks.

The questions the city is trying to answer is that with bicyclists and pedestrians, plus new e-bikes and e-scooters, as well as new technology in the future, which has the right of way on city streets, sidewalks, and bike paths?

As part of the 2019 budget, the city asked the Seattle Department of Transportation to investigate new technologies already being used and then determine rights of ways and regulations.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, the committee governing transportation will hear a report that was commissioned and begin the process.

The aim is to have good traffic flow, reduce accidents and put new regulations in place.

Some of the challenges listed in the report include the lack of dedicated space for new devices on already crowded sidewalks, higher speeds with some of the devices being incompatible with slow sidewalk speeds, conflict with people with disabilities, and poorly-parked devices blocking the sidewalks and creating clutter.

The city will also be covering possible technologies in the future such as automated transit pods and delivery shuttles and where they should operate.

Some in a community focus group said they shouldn’t be allowed on sidewalks at all, which should be only for walkers and people who are differently abled.

Others said forcing people into mixed traffic isn’t a good solution and that devices should be regulated by their speeds.

The full presentation can be seen at this link.