Technology

Seattle selects three scooter companies to apply for permits — here’s what sets them apart

(LINK Photo)

The Seattle Department of Transportation has selected three micromobility companies to seek permits to take part in a Scooter Share Program which was approved by the Seattle City Council on Tuesday.

Lime, Wheels and LINK emerged Friday from a selection process that attracted interest from nine scooter share companies. The three companies will be allowed to operate up to 500 scooters each at the outset, and that number could grow to 2,000 for each operator.

Scooters could be on city streets “sometime in the very near future,” SDOT said in a blog post on Friday, “depending on how quickly these companies are able to complete their permit paperwork, hire local staff, and get their fleet of scooters ready.”

Companies that applied were ranked by SDOT on their plans for safety, equity, accessibility, affordability, technology, and other important criteria, according to the agency. The highest ranking applications were then selected in three categories: a standing scooter company, a seated scooter company, and a company which offers both bikes and scooters.

Here’s more on the three finalists:

LINK

(LINK Photo)

LINK ranked highest as the standing scooter option.

The Boston-based company was born out of a merger between Superpedestrian, founded by urban transport experts from MIT, and Zagster, a longtime bike-share vendor. LINK has 250 scooter deployments across 35 states.

SDOT said the more robust style of scooter is expected to reduce maintenance and safety concerns, and Superpedestrian founder and CEO Assaf Biderman said it was an honor to become part of Seattle’s transportation system.

“We are inspired by Seattle’s commitment to the environment and its diverse communities, and are excited to work with the City to expand accessibility, replace car trips, and reduce carbon emissions — all while maintaining a high degree of safety for riders and pedestrians alike,” Biderman said in a statement. “Advanced vehicle technologies are central to making all of this possible, and we are excited that the city values the 7+ years we have invested to develop our groundbreaking LINK fleet.”

Wheels

(Wheels Photo)

Founded by brothers Jonathan and Joshua Viner, who also founded the dog-walking startup Wag, Wheels was chosen as the most accessible option because of its seated scooter.

Looking like a bicycle with no pedals, the Wheels scooter has larger wheels suitable for rougher streets and weather. The scooters will also come with a built-in helmet with a biodegradable sanitation liner which can be removed after each ride so the helmet will be clean for the next customer.

Wheels currently operates in cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Orlando, Vienna, and Brussels.

Lime

(Lime Photo)

Lime is well known in Seattle as operators of the lime-green bike-share bicycles that have been in the city for a couple years. That distinction, as a company that also offers bikes, led it its selection as a scooter finalist.

Lime said last month that it plans to have 2,000 JUMP bikes back in Seattle by this fall.

SDOT said it hopes to evaluate the different types of trips each service meets, and how bikes and scooters can financially and operationally sustain each other.

Lime and Spin are already participating in a separate scooter pilot program with King County in the White Center area, just south of downtown Seattle.

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