SEATTLE — Bike share companies Lime and JUMP were recently notified they will have to reduce their permitted fleet of bikes from about 6,500 to 5,500 in Seattle. The city is taking action in response to the accuracy of customer service data.
Ethan Bergerson with Seattle's Department of Transportation said the agency does its own audits of the bike share companies and found concerns.
"We ask the companies to report to us monthly how many customer service complaints they have received about issues like bikes being parked incorrectly, bikes blocking sidewalks, things like that, with the goal of having good customer service and making sure they respond to that in a good timely manner," said Bergerson. "There has been some ongoing conversations about how thoroughly they have been reporting on that and whether the reports were complete. As a result of that, we have reduced the number of permitted bikes."
The reduction of 1,000 permitted bikes for each company comes as the city is working to make the bike share program successful. SDOT even has the goal of building 1,500 new bike parking spaces by the end of the year.
Jonathan Hopkins is the Director of Strategic Development for NW, Lime. In a statement Hopkins said, “We continue to work with the city and other partners to improve education about reliable parking options and compliance throughout the city.”
A JUMP spokesperson issued this statement:
“As we’ve reported to the city, we had a problem with our issue tracking system which led to resolution times not being recorded in many cases during March and April. The issue was resolved in late April and we’re now capturing accurate times.
For May, all reported incidents were responded to, and we are on track for June as well. We remain committed to meeting the city’s response time requirements for any improperly-parked bike reports we receive."
Anna Zivarts is the Program Director of Rooted in Rights, a nonprofit that is part of Disability Rights Washington.
In regards to the city's enforcement, Zivarts said, "We hope this incentivizes the bike share companies to take bike parking seriously, and start putting more effort into working with the disability community. And while we're thrilled the City of Seattle is taking action on enforcement, we want to push them to continue to build the bike parking and protected bike lanes to ensure our sidewalks are a safe and accessible place for pedestrians."
Marci Carpenter, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington, said the improper parking of bikes is so careless and frustrating.
"I'm happy that they did something tangible," Carpenter said about the city's enforcement.
Bergerson said, "We want to work with the companies. We want to build a foundation of trustworthy data."