Seattle DOT wants to double bike-shares bikes to 20,000, hike fees on bike-share companies

Seattle DOT wants to double bike-shares bikes to 20,000, hike fees on bike-share companies

SEATTLE — You could soon see twice as many of those colorful bike-share bikes around Seattle.

Seattle Department of Transportation is proposing allowing 20,000 of the bikes you can rent by the minute and park anywhere.

They’re also looking to greatly increase fees on bike-share companies, which one company says would actually reduce access to affordable transportation.

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Currently there are about 10,000 bike-share bikes available throughout Seattle operated by Limebike, Ofo and Spin. Seattle DOT’s plan would allow four companies with 20,000 bikes total.

“I feel like why not,” said Chelsey Albaum, who commutes from Mukilteo to Ballard.

“I think the more bikes the better as long as you have the bike lanes and the parking,” said Walter Haynes, who commutes from Tacoma to Ballard.  “Because the last thing you need is the bikes strewn willy-nilly.”

KIRO 7 has shown you bikes left against buildings, on sidewalks and other weird places.

The plan would also increase the fees on bike-share companies up to $250,000 per year, or about $50 per bike.

Currently the companies pay $15 per bike.

The city would use 40% of that extra money to add more painted parking spaces throughout the city to encourage bike shares to park there. In March the city started testing the idea in Ballard.

They would also add more bike racks between 20 to 30 feet from intersections where cars aren't allowed to park anyway. Any bike would be allowed to park there.  But bike-share bikes would not be required to use the designated areas.

“I’ve been noticing them and trying to park in them more because I don’t like when bikes are in the way,” Megan Miller told KIRO 7 Friday as she rented a Limebike.  “I think I'll definitely try to use them more when I see them.”

Others are skeptical whether the designated parking areas will decrease bike-share bikes getting in the way.

“Some people will do it, but the big draw of the bike shares is the convenience,” Haynes said. “And people are going to park them in the closest spot to where they need to get off anyways.”

A Limebike spokesperson told KIRO 7 the fees would be the highest in the country, but they look forward to working with the city.  An Ofo spokesperson said it would hurt affordable transportation saying, "You're going to see more bikes in the downtown area (higher ridership in that area) as companies look to recoup costs because of the high fees. Therefore that means fewer bikes for those who really need it in underserved communities."

Here are the full statements:

“As a leader in dock-free bike share and smart mobility, other cities globally look to Seattle for guidance on how to price and manage their program. While these fees are the highest in any city where we currently operate, Seattle’s been a great fit for Lime and we plan to continue here with a primarily electric fleet. Today, Lime operates 4,000 bikes in Seattle and plans to add another thousand in the near future. However, we believe that consumer demand and equitable access to bikes should be primary factors in influencing the number allowed rather than a hard, predetermined cap. The City’s own data show that riders enjoy their widespread availability, and that some outer neighborhoods would benefit from greater bike share access. We welcome the opportunity to work with the City of Seattle to refine and find efficiencies in the program moving forward.” 
- Isaac Gross, general manager for Lime in Seattle

"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.”
- Lina Feng, general manager, Ofo Seattle 

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