By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
It was a multimodal edition of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s just-adjourned monthly meeting tonight, tackling bike share and light rail.
First – the two-wheeled transportation.
FREE-FLOATING BIKE SHARE: WSTC has been working for a while to arrange a “conversation about free-floating bike share,” chair Michael Taylor-Judd noted. This one included overviews from reps of both services that are currently operating in West Seattle, as well as some pointed questions.
First to speak: Jump senior operations manager Kian Mousavi. He went through some backstory. Though Uber owns Jump now, it began independently, launching in Buffalo, NY in 2013, taking on this name in 2017, and selling to Uber in 2018. In Sacramento, Jump has more rides than Uber.
As for why Jump is dockless – unlike Seattle’s previous bikeshare Pronto – “convenient for the user … you’re way more likely to find a bike within a five-minute walk.” Ending rides at intended destinations, rather than at docks, allows the company to learn more about how their bikes are being used.
The bikes can go up to 15 mph, with wireless connectivity and an integrated cable lock, so at the end of a ride you have to lock a bike to something (in Sacramento, for example, they are helping the city get more bike racks). The electric assist allows people to “go further with less effort,” he noted. Bike share also attracts more female riders and more older riders.
He went through other aspects of the service that you can read about on the Jump website, including pricing. Challenges: Parking. “We do our best to make sure we properly park our bikes, but riders don’t always properly (park them).” They offer incentives and rider education to try to minimize the parking problem, said Mousavi. (In Sacramento, he said, they have some docking infrastructure which also recharges the bikes, and he said vaguely that’s being “looked into” here.) He noted that they have mandatory safety education for riders, gave away hundreds of helmets when they launched in Seattle, and offer half-off helmet deals via their website “at times.”
He was followed by Lime‘s regional general manager Isaac Gross. He began with the roots of the bikeshare phenomenon in China about five years ago, and his company’s founders starting with a general goal of bringing Asian companies to America (and vice versa). He said bikesharing is more enjoyable than many other forms of transportation. He also said he was going to drive his own car here until he encountered traffic out of downtown, so he switched and grabbed a Lime bike to where he could pick up a Lime Pod car, and got here, no problem. This form of bikeshare “doesn’t cost the city anything,” he noted.
Lime’s first city was Charlotte. It’s now in more than 40 areas of the U.S. as well as some spots in other countries. Now there’s also the Lime Pod – a “low-speed electric vehicle.” Other cities have Lime scooters, too, including Tacoma and Portland They’re very popular, Gross noted; they have some data showing that as scooter usage proliferates, bike usage does too. His company too had a helmet giveaway. They got to 1 million rides in 11 months, 2 million riders after five more months. So far, 103,000 miles on their bikes have been ridden in West Seattle.
In Q&A – how do daypart and topography affect ride volume? Mousavi said, “There’s not a lot of rides at night.” As for hills, yes, they have more trips down than up.
Next question, from a C Line rider who commutes downtown. She was concerned about bikes parked on sidewalks. She said she’s contacted both services as well as SDOT and the mayor’s office about disabled people having to dodge bikeshares on the sidewalks. She said the companies tell her it’s riders leaving the bikes blocking sidewalks but she’s skeptical. So, the issue was summarized, what are they doing about the issue? “As soon as we receive a call, we have a 2-hour window to move that bike,” said Mousavi. Gross, meantime, said, “We recognize the problem.” The attendee said she has been told “call us and we’ll come (get the bike).” Gross replied, “And we do.” The attendee contended that the company should be finding the mislaid bikes itself. Mousavi jumped in. “Yes, we do self-audits.” And they contact riders found to have left bikes in improper places, he added. Scott said, “if we’re aware of a bike that causes an immediate safety concern,” that’s the first one they go after. But, he said, “this isn’t something we and our competitors can do alone.” The responsibility is shared – with the riders, the company, and the city.
How much city subsidizing is being done for bikeshare companies? asked another attendee. Reply: None (unlike the previous, docked bikeshare service).
LIGHT RAIL: The WSTC board considered its official position to be submitted as part of the light-rail “scoping” process, which has just days to go (you have until Tuesday to get your comments in).
-Limiting “negative impacts”
-Ensuring that guideways and station locations benefit the neighborhood
Points of discussion included the federal “4F” considerations (explained here) – hard to avoid given the proliferation of parkland/greenbelt along the way. WSTC board member Deb Barker, a Stakeholder Advisory Group member, recapped how some of the discussion had proceeded, particularly in the Elected Leadership Group.
Taylor-Judd said he had had a conversation with an unnamed ST person who relayed that the agency had significant concerns about Pigeon Point tunneling, which is not currently on the front burner but is part of the tossed-after-round-2 “purple line” that has drawn some West Seattle support.
Someone at that point mentioned visualizations available online (find them here). There were also questions about the soil sampling (here’s our most-recent coverage).
Also discussed: Some of the various neighborhood concerns that have surfaced relatively recently, including how – or whether – The Junction’s routing/station-location choice will potentially set up the path of future expansion southward. WSTC board members also discussed the cost and how the numbers currently tossed around (tunnel vs. no tunnel) are just very early estimates (as ST has admitted). It’s early overall, board members acknowledged.
The WSTC position, spelled out in a letter, will be finalized within a day or so (we’ll add it here when it’s ready). Meantime, you can comment via the ST “online open house” – go here.
Other brief discussions at meeting’s end:
SOUND TRANSIT BOARD REPLACEMENT: The board also discussed whether to support any particular Seattle City Councilmember to succeed the resigning Rob Johnson on the ST board, but decided not to, so far.
METRO ISSUES: The new stops in Pioneer Square got a bit of discussion, as did times that were “way off” on bus-stop reader boards.