Free scooter rides offered to essential workers in Seattle

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Free scooter rides offered to essential workers in Seattle

Satisfied with the initial launch of LINK’s fleet of scooters, Seattle could soon allow the company to expand from 500 to 2,000 gray and yellow scooters in West Seattle and parts of South and Southeast Seattle.

“As long as things go smoothly and no issues arise, we will likely approve the growth LINK wants,” said Ethan Bergerson, spokesman for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). Expansion could start in late January.

Lime, the black and green stand-up scooter that came onto the market in Seattle in September, is allowed to operate 500 scooters and 2,000 red JUMP bikes. Wheels with its black and white seated scooters is allowed to operate 500 scooters.

Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that addresses the area’s delicate transportation problems, highlights promising approaches to alleviate downtime, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, Kemper Development Co., Madrona Venture Group, NHL Seattle, PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company, and Seattle Children’s Hospital. The Seattle Times editors and reporters work independently from our funders and maintain editorial control over the content of Traffic Lab.

As LINK prepares to expand in the city, the company is offering key employees who will receive a $ 50 loan for free scooter rides.

Healthcare, education, public transportation, janitorial and grocery workers can apply for one-time credit by showing proof of employment and attaching a photo of their work ID, ID card, or payroll – with hidden personal information. LINK will approve or deny anyone’s request within a week.

During Governor Jay Inslee’s home order this spring, JUMP bike rental company offered free 30-minute rides for key employees.

LINK’s program is designed to help the 360,000 people in Seattle whose jobs are considered essential to work. However, it does not monitor where the trips end. For example, a hospital worker could use the credit to go on trips to the grocery store.

Depending on travel distances, the $ 50 balance could cover between six and 14 trips, said Paul White, a company spokesman.

The amount was modeled using the € 50 credit established in Rome, where the freeride program was first launched. No one has hit the cap in Rome, but if a key Seattle employee hits the limit and finds that driving a scooter works, that person can ask for more credit, said Meredith Starkman, another LINK spokeswoman.

“For someone who thought Scooter was never for them, this is an opportunity for them to try it out and see,” said Starkman.

About a third of the essential workforce, including people who work in hospitals, grocery stores, assisted living facilities, public safety, and waste management, commuted to transit work in 2018. This is based on census data compiled by TransitCenter, a national transit research organization.

White said scooters could serve as a complement for someone coming to their bus stop or a ferry terminal. The average length of a scooter ride in Seattle is 1.5 miles, he said.

This is a one-time offer, but “if there’s enough demand, if people find it a valuable service, and if COVID continues to be a challenge, we will likely continue,” White said.

Seattle launched its scooter share program this fall after years of debating how to use scooters safely, fairly, and without nuisance. The three qualified companies LINK, Lime and Wheels were initially allowed to sell 500 scooters.

Companies can expand their fleet up to 2,000 scooters if they meet safety, equity, accessibility and parking standards. Forbidden on sidewalks, scooters may only be driven on cycle paths and roads. Helmets are required.

As with Seattle’s bike rental regulations, at least 10% of any company’s scooters must be located in neighborhoods populated by colored people, immigrants, and low-income people.

According to an SDOT report, Lime failed to meet this requirement for its motorcycles in 2019, using only 3 to 7% of its motorcycles in equity areas each month.

According to preliminary data made available to the city, around 10,000 LINK trips have been recorded since October. Since September, the drivers have made around 68,000 trips with Lime scooters. The city is still working on collecting data from Wheels, Bergerson said.