SPOKANE, Wash. — Some new rules may be in place if bike sharing returns to Spokane in the spring.
The proposed regulations, which will be outlined during a city council hearing in March, would still ban people from riding electric scooters on downtown streets, according to city spokesperson Julie Happy. Users, however, would be able to ride the scooters on sidewalks.
Happy also confirmed that bike and scooter riders would be required to wear helmets under the new regulations, but bike and scooter vendors would no longer be required to offer them.
Washington law does not require helmet use, but city law requires every adult and child to wear a helmet when riding “any bicycle, electric-assisted bicycle, electric personal assisted mobility device, in-line skates, roller skate(s), skate shoe(s), scooter or skateboard.”
After the council hearing in March, bike sharing vendors, including LimeBike, will be able to apply for the spot. Happy said this is in preparation for a May launch to coincide with biking activities that were once part of Spokane's Bike to Work Week.
In November, City of Spokane Public Works Director Marlene Feist said it is possible the city would partner with other companies if Spokane permanently implements a bike share program. Feist also said the bike share program itself would not be codified but city leaders must clarify existing code in order for the program to function.
The City of Spokane's bikeshare pilot program with LimeBike officially ended in mid-November after more than two months in the city, which means the lime-green bikes and scooters were off the streets. That had many residents wondering about the program's future.
Feist said more than 1,000 people filled out the city’s online feedback survey that launched in October, and others offered comments via social media and email.
Feist also discussed vandalism after two LimeBike scooters were tossed into the Spokane River in early October. She said that the City of Spokane is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged equipment because Lime covers that damage. Regardless, she does not believe this act of vandalism was any different than what you would see in another city or should determine the bikeshare program's fate.
"People talked about that [vandalism] so much it was bound to happen," Feist said.
Despite some hurdles, Feist was confident that the bike sharing program would return in 2019.
“We have had so much positive feedback. I have faith that we will have bikeshare back in our community in the spring at some point,” Feist said.
Gonzaga University also ended the program along with the city. School officials said they are interested in continuing the program but they are waiting on the city to figure out how it would work.