Though it’s been scaling back its efforts for a while now, Spin has officially announced an end to its bike share service in Seattle. Citing an increase in fees and the decision not to include scooters in the city’s updated permit, Spin will not be applying for the next year of operations.
With ofo already leading the way out of town, that leaves Lime as the only bike share company actively in business for the time being. So at the height of summer, Seattle is seeing a huge decrease in available bikes.
But it might not be this way for long. The Seattle Times reports that in addition to Lime, Uber-owned Jump and Lyft-owned Motivate (once the operator of Pronto Cycle Share) have both submitted permit applications to operate under Seattle’s new pricier and more regulated bike share scheme. Though the plan was to have four companies, it seems only three have applied so far.
But the city’s target is still 20,000 bikes total divided among the companies raising $1 million in permit fees per year. This seemingly arbitrary bike total means that each bike will cost $50 to permit, among the more expensive rates in the country. But at 20,000 bikes, Seattle would also have one of the largest bike share fleets in operation, many of them with electric assist.
The fact that two of Seattle’s three bike share companies are all but suspending U.S. bike share operations is one possibly worrying sign about the state of private bike share. But that is counteracted by recent investments from Uber and Lyft to become major players in U.S. bike share. In the meantime, the market for shared electric kick scooters is seemingly blowing up, an innovation Seattle has so far spurned.
There are a lot of companies competing for the huge market of urban trips that are too long for a short walk but too short to be well-served by transit or car. About half of all trips are three miles or less, so there could be a lot of money to be made if you can capture even a piece of that total. So far, companies have tried pedal bikes, e-assist bikes and electric kick scooters, each of which may have their own places in the ecosystem. But what we know for sure is that this period of innovation is not over. Who knows what the shared mobility device market will look like this time next year. Continue reading