Seattle invites three scooter rental companies to apply for pilot permits

SEATTLE — Scooter rental companies Lime, Wheels, and Link were invited to apply for Seattle’s pilot permits, the Seattle Department of Transportation announced Friday.

Out of nine total applicants, the city chose the three based on certain criteria, including being able to support West Seattle residents during the West Seattle bridge closure.

SDOT said it chose one company each that could offer standing scooters, seated scooters and both bikes and scooters.

The companies will be allowed to operate up to 500 scooters to begin and possibly increase their fleet to 2,000 in the future.

It is not yet known when the scooters will be made available, but SDOT said it could happen in “the very near future,” and it depends on how fast the companies can complete their paperwork, hire local staff, and prepare their fleets.

If the companies can’t meet the requirements in a timely manner, competitive runner-up companies will be offered the opportunity to apply.

Right now, Lime operates about 500 red Jump-branded bikes in the city and must provide at least 2,000 bikes by October to retain its scooter-share permit, city officials said.

“After being the first city to have free-floating bike-share, Seattle is taking another major step toward a more sustainable future,” Lime Director of Strategic Development for the Northwest Jonathan Hopkins said after the Seattle City Council passed legislation allowing scooter-share Tuesday. “It’s now more important than ever for residents to have safe, socially-distant transportation options - like bikes and scooters - that can help reduce car congestion. We applaud the council for its vision and look forward to serving Seattle residents with e-bikes and scooters for many years to come.”

According to SDOT, Link has technology that has geofencing technology, which is able to communicate geographic limits to riders. It ensures riders “don’t venture in no ride areas and comply with parking and speed rules,” according to a Link statement.

As for Wheels, it offers seater scooters with larger wheels. SDOT said, “The company also plans to provide built-in helmets with biodegradable sanitation liners with every device by the fall.”

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