Everett exploring letting in scooter-sharing companies such as Bird
EVERETT — Electric scooters could someday be found around the city.
City transportation officials are exploring creating the framework to allow e-scooter ride share companies into the city, though they have not solicited requests for proposals or set a start date.
“We are excited about the possibility of offering another form of non-automobile transportation for residents and visitors,” city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said. “Providing options for everyone traveling through our city is a priority – whether they’re on foot, bike, bus, or car.”
In February a Lime representative gave a presentation on the company’s e-scooters to the city’s volunteer-based Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). At its March meeting, the committee recommended that the city pursue implementing an e-scooter program.
City staff have had informal meetings with Bird, the other major provider of e-scooters, Pembroke said. Bird obtained a city business license in October, but it has “no expansion plans to announce at this time,” said company spokesperson Mackenzie Long.
Lime would welcome a partnership with Everett, said Jonathan Hopkins, who presented for the San Francisco-based company at the TAC meeting. Lime has run pilot e-scooter programs in Tacoma and Spokane, and discussed e-scooters with a half dozen other Puget Sound cities. Seattle bans the scooters.
“These are tools for congestion-free, pollution-free transportation in cities that really want to hit their climate goals,” Hopkins said.
He noted company data indicates a third of people using Lime e-scooters would otherwise be driving, or using a taxi or ride-hail cars such as Uber and Lyft. About 20 percent use scooters to get to places where they can connect with public transportation.
Riders use an app to unlock a scooter for about $1 to $2 to ride it whereever they want, and leave it at their destination for the next person to rent. At night, an army of paid “chargers” pick up the scooters to be recharged, and deploy them for the next morning.
The scooters top out at 20 mph.
Lime specifically asks riders to use bike lanes and stay off sidewalks, from a KUOW radio report.
In Tacoma, which has both Lime and Bird, e-scooters have been wildly popular. Since Bird came on the scene alongside Lime in October, e-scooters registered a combined 91,873 rides, compared with just 12,674 for Lime’s electric-boost bicycles.
“The demand for scooters indicates they can fill an important role in providing better connections to transit and a more convenient way to move around the city for short trips,” said Josh Diekmann, a traffic engineer with Tacoma’s Public Works Department.
In Spokane’s 74-day pilot program, Lime e-scooters racked up 108,360 total trips, swamping the 18,831 for e-bikes. In a post-program poll, 95 percent of 3,476 respondents thought the e-scooter and bike share program was “good for the community.”
Tyler Rourke, chair of Everett’s transportation committee and a challenger last year for an Everett City Council seat, said since e-scooters have been vetted in other cities, most of the concerns committee members had have already been addressed.
The barrier of entry would be low, he said, because Lime provides and services the scooters and collects payment.
“I am interested in exploring this further,” Rourke said. “It seems like a win-win.”
There is no formal City Council action scheduled right now on the e-scooter recommendation.
Pembroke said traffic engineers are reviewing scooter share programs in other cities to determine what elements to include in a potential request for proposals.
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