Stationless bike share pilot program to start this week

This Friday (July 7), the city will roll out a bike share pilot program which will allow privately owned bike share companies to operate in the city.

The program allows for stationless bike shares, which means the bikes can be parked on sidewalks and in landscaping/furniture zones along roads in the city. This isn’t the first time the city  has tried a bike share program; in 2014, the city bought bike sharing company Pronto, but couldn’t make it work and sold off the bikes.

“Three years ago, we launched a citywide bike share program in Seattle. And, no it didn’t work. But our SDOT team never stopped working to deliver on our commitment to provide a bike share mobility option,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly in a statement. “We want to give residents as many transportation options as we can to get around our growing city. This effort gives us the flexibility to collect ridership data as well as provide a low-cost transit option without public funding.”  

This time around, the city is using a permitting program that allows companies to set up competing bike sharing businesses. In order to operate, the companies must meet a set of requirements, and will be permitted to operate for six months. After the pilot, the city will analyze rental data and performance metrics, assessing safety and neighborhood distribution. SDOT will then decide if the bike sharing will be a permanent transit program.

Stationless bikes could mean a bit of chaos in terms of parking, so the city has laid out specific guidelines around where and for how long a bike is allowed to be parked. Here are a few of the requirements set out by the city:

  • Bikes cannot be parked at the corners of sidewalks as defined by section 15.02.042 of the Seattle Municipal Code(SMC).
  • Bicycles shall not be parked on blocks where the landscape/furniture zone is less than 3 feet wide, or where there is no landscape/furniture zone.
  • On blocks without sidewalks, bicycles may be parked if the travel lane(s) and 6-foot pedestrian clear zone are not impeded.
  • The City reserves the right to determine certain block faces where free-floating bicycle share parking is prohibited.
  • Bicycles shall not be parked in the landscape/furniture zone adjacent to or within: a. Parklets or streateries; b. Transit zones, including bus stops, shelters, passenger waiting areas and bus layover and staging zones, except at existing bicycle racks; c. Loading zones; d. Disabled parking zone; e. Street furniture that requires pedestrian access (for example – benches, parking pay stations, bus shelters, transit information signs, etc.); f. Curb ramps; g. Entryways; and h. Driveways.
  • SDOT retains the right to create geo-fenced stations within certain areas where bicycles shall be parked.
  • Any free-floating bicycle that is parked in one location for more than 7 consecutive days without moving may be removed by City of Seattle crews and taken to a City facility for storage at the expense of the bicycle share operator.
  • All permitted operators shall provide on every bicycle contact information for bicycle relocation requests.
  • Bicycles shall be upright when parked.
  • Any bicycle that is parked incorrectly shall be re-parked in a correct manner or shall be removed by the operator based on these times:
    • 6am to 6pm on weekdays, not including holidays – within two hours of receiving notice,
    • All other times – within 10 hours of receiving notice.
  • Bicycles can only be parked on hard surfaces within the landscape/furniture zone (e.g. concrete, asphalt).

Ballard is designated as a neighborhood likely to have bike shares; it’s on the “Tier 1” list of priority hire zip codes. According to the Seattle Bike Blog, San Francisco-based Spin is one of the bike sharing companies planning to apply for a permit.

Photo courtesy SDOT

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