SEATTLE — It's been a year and a half since electric scooters hit Seattle. An evaluation from the city's Department of Transportation in early April found riders took more than 1.4 million trips from October 2020 through September 2021.
"I've seen the bikes and scooters a lot. I actually use them a good amount because cars are expensive, parking is annoying and I'm always going around to my friend’s places," said Diane Tian, an e-scooter rider.
Officials with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) said the free-floating scooter-share pilot launched on Oct. 1, 2020. Since then, more than 260,000 riders took over 1.4 million trips. An SDOT survey of 5,000 riders revealed 70% of riders are not following one of the city's main rules for the scooters.
"No, I don't wear a helmet. I don't have a helmet. I haven't seen anybody wearing a helmet,” said Tian. “I don't even know where to buy a helmet."
Riders also aren't supposed to ride on sidewalks. But KING spoke with one rider who said there are times when he has no choice.
"Whenever there's not a bike lane, I have to do the sidewalk. Otherwise, I'm putting my life in danger,” said Rob Olson. “I was just up the road, and like I don't want to mess with the road if its lanes aren't painted right."
SDOT officials said the city is planning on making more bike lanes and asking the scooter companies to re-apply for new permits that require them to have a plan to address safety concerns like ensuring riders are wearing helmets. But SDOT officials also said riders play a major role in making this program safe.
"It's really important that everyone do the right thing, when you're riding a scooter, make good choices, be safe, park it in the correct way. That's going to make this program successful so we can continue to have it," said Ethan Bergerson, a spokesperson with SDOT.
That same survey from SDOT found 17 crashes recorded through police reports during the pilot program and 12% of riders self-reported various injuries through the SDOT online survey.