Kevin Freibott

Getting ready to roll!

Kevin Freibott, Assistant Planner, 509.625.6184

Friday, March 15, 2019 at 9:52 a.m.

Getting ready to roll!

If you are one of the thousands of Spokane residents or visitors who rode a Lime scooter or bicycle last fall, you likely know how fun and exciting shared mobility can be. In two short months the City residents and visitors took nearly 150,000 rides on scooters, bikes, and e-bikes for more than 107,000 miles of use.

Following expressions of support from users and non-users alike, the City is preparing to make a few amendments to City code to accommodate a more permanent shared mobility program in Spokane starting this year.

Currently under consideration by the City Council is a suite of Spokane Municipal Code amendments to define how shared mobility would operate in our community:

  1. Shared mobility vendors would not be required to issue a helmet to users with every rental transaction. Instead, they would be required to conduct outreach and education on helmets and bike safety.
  2. Scooter users, like bicyclists, would be required to ride in the street in the downtown core to avoid conflict with the many pedestrians on the sidewalk in the core.
  3. The area where scooters and bikes must stay off the sidewalk downtown would be expanded to include the portion of downtown between Bernard and Division. The proposed restriction zone focuses on keeping scooters off the most used sidewalks, as shown here:
  4. A bicycle helmet will become appropriate wear for riders of electric scooters. Current rules have required the use of a motorcycle helmet on scooters.

This new permanent program will allow shared mobility to continue in Spokane from year to year. As this exciting new opportunity transforms and grows over the years, as all technology tends to do, the City will continue to review and address the program to take advantage of new opportunities and to shore up any possible shortcomings.

Some folks have asked or commented about the costs to the City related to this program. This project represents a partnership between the City and private vendors of shared mobility technology. As such, the costs to the City are minimal and the potential benefits are great. The equipment is owned and managed by the private vendors, at no cost to the City.

Additionally, more bike and scooter riders mean fewer cars on the road and fewer impacts to our streets and air quality. Shared mobility also is a draw for visitors to the area and can increase the street-level activity in the downtown. Last, the program is anticipated to include usage and/or permit fees for vendors that would offset any administrative costs the City may incur and could potentially provide limited funds for sidewalk or other infrastructure improvements.

The proposed amendments are scheduled for review by the City Council in late March of this year. In the meantime, if you would like to lend your voice to this important project or you would like to know more, please visit the project website. As the proposed amendments develop over the next month we will be sure to publish any changes or new information there.

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