It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly a year since Seattle became the first American city to have a large dockless bike share presence.
With the initial permits set to be reviewed this summer, SDOT’s Joel Miller reported to the committee last week on the system, which now includes 10,000 bikes provided by 3 companies (presentation slides and video). Thanks to a unique deal the city crafted with the companies, anonymized user data is provided to UW which is then analyzed and passed to SDOT, which is how we’re able to get such accurate data (only through December of last year – this year’s data will come soon).
Overall, the results were positive. The number of rides per day seems to get lower as the weather gets lower, but not catastrophically so. The city conducted a professional survey of residents and found that 74% had a favorable impression of bike share. Miller contrasted that with the unsolicited comments the city received via phone and email, which were 85% negative. That’s not surprising, but it’s helpful to contextualize how residents really feel about these things. Most relevant for our purposes, 75% used bike share to access transit at least once while 30-40% used it to access transit often.
38% of bike share customers are women, which is less than 50% but higher than the 25% of cyclists nationwide who are women. 1 in 4 riders use helmets, but a UW/Harborview study indicates no significant elevated head injury risk due to bike share. Miller highlighted some equity concerns, and despite the fact that dockless bikes are more accessible to low-income areas than Pronto was, hinted that there might be an opportunity for the companies to do even more to provide access to low-income areas when the next permit cycle starts up next year.
The biggest bit of negative feedback related to bikes parked improperly. SDOT took this concern seriously, especially as it impacts pedestrians with mobility or visual impairments. They have rolled out a pilot program of designated bike parking spots in Ballard, which get bikes off the sidewalk and also make for safer pedestrian crossings by removing a parked car. The second highest complaint was a lack of infrastructure. This is where the agency really needs to step up and build the basic bike network if they want to really see bike share thrive.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, it seems like there’s little appetite on the council for allowing the Great San Francisco Scooter Scourge make its way up north.