Seattle tries designated parking for dockless bikes

by Stefani Cox

Seattle dockless bike parking collage
Source: Seattle DOT blog.

Some of the most persistent challenges with dockless bike share since it first burst into the mobility scene have been questions of right-of-way and general “sidewalk clutter.” Now Seattle is tackling that issue head-on.

Seattle was one of the first U.S. cities to embrace dockless systems, and it has been eight months since the locality first introduced its pilot rules for their operation within city limits. Since then, countless other metropolitan areas throughout the country have begun to either fully allow dockless bikes or consider how they will regulate them.

Currently, Seattle is experimenting with designated areas for dockless bike parking, as outlined in a recent Seattle DOT blog post:

We’ve selected five “sidewalk furniture zone” locations along NW Market St in Ballard where we’re encouraging bike share users to park their bike share bikes. The five designated parking locations have temporary markings and we’ll to determine how effective they are in helping to better organize the brightly colored bikes.

The article outlines exactly where the five new bike parking areas will be, as well as the dimensions of those spaces. The city plans to use the test project as an information-gathering experience:

We’ve monitored these areas for bike parking compliance rates before installation. In the next few weeks, we’ll monitor usage, organization, design resilience, and compliance rates in the immediate vicinity of the locations, on the same block-face, and neighborhood-wide.

Should the trial be successful, Seattle’s work could be a big next step in reducing some of the nuisances that go along with dockless bike sharing, as bike clutter has been of serious concern to the public, to transportation professionals, and to individuals who require fully-accessible sidewalks.

However, as a recent city summit in Austin on dockless bike sharing showed, even if sidewalk clutter is addressed, there are still a variety of other equity questions surrounding dockless systems, such as data privacy, pricing and consistency, as well as how they will handle existing community partnerships and access programs that have been developing over a number of years.

The Better Bike Share Partnership is funded by The JPB Foundation as a collaborative between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter.