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Seattle scooter share pilot program in the works

SEATTLE -- The scooter-share hype is finally coming to Seattle.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that the city is working on a pilot program. Council members hope to have it off the ground by late summer or early fall.

They are working with other cities like Portland to find the best practices when it comes to bringing the motorized scooters to the city.

There are several people, including Glen Buhlmann, who have been waiting.

“I’ve been fighting for a year to get try and get them to come here,” he said.

The scooter-share program has the potential to benefit a lot of people living in the area.

“My guess is more people would be willing to use these,” Buhlmann said.

Looking at the most recent numbers from Tacoma’s rideshare program, the number of people using these scooters nearly tripled compared to riders of motorized bikes over a three-month period.

The issue then becomes, how can our city streets accommodate an influx of riders in the bike lanes? The answer, Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien says, may be protected lanes which the city is already working on.

“Those are where scooters would be great along with bikes,” he said.

That only helps with part of the problem though. How will people like the visually impaired, who O’Brien calls "our most vulnerable roadway users," be protected?

“We can fine them, we can kick them off the system," he said. “These companies know exactly where the thing is parked, they know how fast it was driving, they know who was using it.”

Jonathan Hopkins with Lime says the scooters won't allow people to just leave them anywhere.

“If it is in the wrong spot, it won’t let you lock there,” he said.

With already crowded sidewalks, where is the parking? Hopkins says the city is already working on 5,000 corrals, or spaces, for the ride-sharing program.

Just how much can we trust people to do the right thing, protect others and themselves? O'Brien says it's easy.

“We can fine them, we can kick them off the system," O'Brien explained. "They are gonna understand their own limitations in terms of what they need to do to protect themselves.”

One of the things that we learned is that helmets would not be required in this scooter share program, however, it is still being highly encouraged that you use one, when you lift off.

Council Member Lorena González says, “I think people in Seattle are very smart and very educated, and they are gonna understand their own limitations in terms of what they need to do to protect themselves.”

How much longer will people in Seattle have to wait in order to push off on a motorized scooter?

“We are hoping for late summer early fall," O'Brien said. "At the latest next year, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that we can do it sooner than that because, you know, people wanna get around, right? A day like today, it would be awesome.”

As far as people who are part of a low-income program or maybe don’t have access to a smartphone or a bank account, Hopkins says they have options, including half-off rides. For how to enroll, and for more information, click here.

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