Scooter-share briefing, bridge update @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition

(WSB photo, Tuesday)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Scooters have arrived.

Will they be a convenient transportation tool, a risk to riders and pedestrians, both, or neither? Hopes and concerns were at the heart of briefings during the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s September meeting, Thursday night online. The WSTC got a quick West Seattle Bridge update too.

Here’s what happened:

BRIDGE UPDATE: SDOT’s project lead Heather Marx presented this, with toplines similar to what the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force heard the day before (WSB coverage here). Stabilization work continues; the contractor is starting the process of attaching brackets that will be necessary for post-tensioning steel work. Marx and a Northwest Seaport Alliance (Seattle and Tacoma ports) delegation toured the top of bridge in pouring rain.

In toplines of the new West Marginal Way plan (WSB coverage here), the WMW/Highland Park Way intersection rechannelization is much-anticipated; they think that’ll improve flow through the intersection by 20 percent. Overall, Marx added, “Going the speed limit is really important regardless of whether you agree with it.” (To provide passing drivers with reminders, Delridge and Dumar Way residents just got a new batch of Vision Zero signs dropped off, she said.) Community conversations are ahead for the WMW bicycle and freight proposals. She also mentioned the Highland Park Home Zone concept (here’s our coverage from the HPAC meeting the previous night); the other Reconnect West Seattle neighborhoods will have plans too. An overall caveat about work schedules – because of the pandemic, SDOT has “significantly less crew capacity,” Marx said.

In Q&A, the potential West Marginal Way two-way protected bicycle lane was asked about, with a mention that a bicycling advocate on the Community Task Force had seemed lukewarm to it. That aside, it was the “fourth-ranked project” in the Reconnect West Seattle bicycle survey, Marx countered, adding, “We haven’t decided to do those things; if we do, it’ll be in conjunction with the signal” (near the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse). Though the port doesn’t support the proposed NB freight-only lane, “they’re not the only businesses we talk to” notes Marx – they’re talking to others too, and those on the west side of the river are those asking for help in access.

In SDOT-related miscellany, WSTC’s Victoria Nelson said Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network has received access permission to use the “Keep Moving Street” section of Beach Drive by Constellation Park so they can drive in with their equipment when a stranding makes that necessary. Then asked by Nelson about the Endolyne/Brace Point intersection in Fauntleroy and whether one of the stop signs could be removed, Marx said they’ll look at it Marty Westerman, WSTC vice-chair and also involved with the Fauntleroy Community Association, said FCA fought to keep both because of past “near-misses and T-bones.” For a future meeting, SDOT will bring new Reconnect West Seattle mobility manager Sara Zora and an engineer.

Before the bridge-and-traffic discussion wrapped up, WSTC’s Deb Barker – also on the Community Task Force – suggested a recap of the low-bridge subcommittee plan. Marx said that group’s work will enable them to come up with a “more dynamic policy” for access. Asked next how the low-bridge repairs are going, Marx said the load-rating deficiencies have been addressed administratively while they design “the fix” – which will also, like high-bridge stabilization, involve carbon-fiber wrap. The price tag will be relatively “tiny” compared to the high bridge, probably around $10 million. The largest trucks, “over legal 2,” are not allowed on the low bridge. Maximum number of allowed vehicles per hour to not impede emergency vehicles is 450, and yes, there are midday times when there’s capacity to spare, but they can’t just open it to all or else it’ll be swamped.

P.S. We asked – no new estimated date for low bridge cameras yet – the City Council will take up the required legislation next week.

SCOOTER-SHARE: SDOT’s point person for this program, Stefan Winkler, led the briefing. He explained that with three vendors, they’ll have seated scooters as well as standing, when other vendors jump in. He shared the background:

Vendors were required to commit to serving West Seattle. SDOT hopes they can help people get to transit, for example.

Other cities have actually seen an increase in the pandemic months, he said.

Scooters are seen as a tool of climate action.

Here’s how they’re trying to keep them from impeding pedestrian safety:

And how they’re trying to protect riders:

He talked about one vendor – Wheels – offering in-seat helmet liners. And that plays into pandemic precautions too

Program equity requires that at least 10 percent of the scooters are distributed to underserved communities such as southeast West Seattle and South Park.

The program is funded by permit fees, and will likely stay at 500 per company until sometime next year.

Lime was first to bring in its scooters; we asked when the other two vendors are expected to deploy theirs. Winkler said they are working on issues such as indemnification and insurance – if they can’t qualify, they can’t come in – but are expected “within the next 30 to 60 days.”

Barker asked for clarification on whether the motorized scooters can use the bicycle/pedestrian path on the low bridge. Yes, said Winkler. He could not clarify, though, if they would even be allowed in the vehicle lane, where motorcycles currently are not allowed 5 am-9 pm.

WEST SEATTLE BIKE CONNECTIONS: WSBC’s Loren Schwartz explained their recommendations for the scooter-share program:

In particular, WSBC would not want them allowed in parks or park trails (like along Alki); they believe scooters should be a form of transportation, not recreation.

They COULD geofence the scooters to be not used on trails, Winkler says, but “from a point of equity SDOT wants all people who ride a scooter or bike the same access … we don’t want them to be unable to do same things that people who bought their own device” can do. WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd observed that there would likely be some confusion over where the e-scooters are OK.

NEXT MEETING: WSTC usually meets fourth Thursday, 6:30, online – watch for updates.

12 Replies to "Scooter-share briefing, bridge update @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition"

  • WSobserver September 27, 2020 (7:04 pm)

    Scooters have arrived.

    They sure have, one has been abandoned up on our corner for about a week now. I expect to see it covered in graffiti in short order.

    Not to mention the one that was ceremoniously gassed and burned by ‘protestors’ downtown the other night.

    Because this time it will be different somehow …

    • WSB September 27, 2020 (7:22 pm)

      Happens. A Jump bike appeared on our corner a week-plus ago, top of one hill, bottom of the next, sort of an unlikely spot but we’ve seen a dramatic increase in passing bicycle traffic of all kinds since the pandemic. Somebody rode it here, nobody’s rode it away yet, we joke that it might well be here into the winter, and we’ll be photographing it with a snow-capped seat.

      • Chemist September 28, 2020 (1:45 pm)

        From the permit, if it’s idle for more than a week you can call it in to be rebalanced to be more profitable/ensure that it’s not a broken device being left by potential users.

        O2.3 Idle Devices. A device is idle if it has been parked in the same location in the City for more than seven days without being rented or being visually inspected by the vendor. If anyone notifies the vendor that an idle device is idle, the vendor shall inspect, repark, or remove the device no later than 48 hours after the vendor receives notice.

        • WSB September 28, 2020 (3:27 pm)

          Thanks, for the first couple days it had a light on and was making little beeping noises but then that stopped, so no way of knowing whether it’s operable, but it’s a lot less likely to get further use here than if it was taken down the hill to the ferry dock, Lincoln Park, Morgan Junction business district … Have reported. We’ll see how long until it gets attended to.

          • WSB September 28, 2020 (4:09 pm)

            This is a land-speed record. Probably just a coincidence, 40 minutes after I filed the report, but someone in a van JUST showed up to take the bike away.

  • drM September 28, 2020 (3:52 am)

    To quote Larry Summers, who famously said:  
    “In the history of the world, no one has EVER washed a rented car”. The scooters will go the same way as all the others, except this time someone is going to get badly hurt. No ownership, no incentive to do right.

  • Jeffrey September 28, 2020 (11:02 am)

    Great, more broken e-garbage everywhere and millions of local dollars vanished into the pockets of out of state venture capitalists and foreign manufacturers again. “But it will be different THIS time guys! Trust us!”

    • KM September 28, 2020 (12:02 pm)

      Now do cars.

  • Kalo September 28, 2020 (2:15 pm)

    Read in the Times this AM that IF a new bridge is built, that the Coast Guard may require that it be higher than it’s current 140’, projecting out to what shipping could look like in the next 100 years. Hmmm, the current bridge was to last 75 years, made it 35. Who wants to wager that if a new bridge is built, how many years it’ll last? Lemme see, higher bridge means even more tension? Lasting an even shorter time? My vote is for a tunnel!

  • anonyme September 29, 2020 (8:47 am)

    Part of the problem with these scooters, bikes, and cars (like Car2Go) is that the burden of reporting is on the general public.  This forces all of us non-participants to be responsible for these things being dumped and left everywhere as if we were all unpaid employees.  It should be the responsibility of the company and users to monitor where these things are and to make sure they are moved in a timely manner and parked in a manner that does not obstruct the right-of-way.

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