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Seattle Bike Share Guide

So you want to bike around Seattle on one of those colorful bikes on sidewalks and bike racks? It’s super easy! Here’s an FAQ on how to get started. If you have any questions not answered here, email [email protected]. I will keep this page updated as information changes.

Bike share companies in operation:

  • Bird: Blue and black bicycles. iOS | Android — $1 to unlock + 42¢/min. Electric-assisted pedal bikes.
  • Lime: White and green bicycles. iOS | Android — $1 to unlock + 44¢/min. Electric-assisted pedal bikes.
  • Veo: Teal and black scooter-like bicycles. iOS | Android — $1 to unlock + 44¢/min. Throttle-controlled motor with pedals (though the pedals don’t do much).

Note that companies often update their pricing, so the costs cited above could be out of date (please let me know if I need to update them). You will need to create an account and input your credit/debit card info before starting. Companies often offer free rides to get you started.

How does it work?

  • Download a company’s app and find a bike near you on the map.
  • When you find one, just follow the instructions on the bike to unlock. Each company is a little different, but they are all easy to use.
  • Bike to your destination and find a place to park (see graphic below for help)
  • Lock using instructions in the app to end your trip.

That’s it! You’re done.

Free adaptive bike share from Outdoors for All

The Outdoors for All Adaptive Cycling Center is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week from May 1 through September 30. Located in Magnuson Park (6344 NE 74th Street, Seattle, WA 98115), people can rent a wide variety of bicycles, tricycles, tandems and more for free thanks to a partnership with SDOT and funding from the bike share permits. They also have knowledgeable staff on hand to help people find a bike that will work for them and to help get them properly fitted. It is a great resource for a fun day of cycling or for people who want to try out different styles of often pricey adaptive bikes before committing to buy one.

Where should I park this bike share bike?

Bikes can be parked in the “furniture zone” of a sidewalk or at any city bike rack. Make sure to maintain at least six feet of open walking space on the sidewalk, and don’t block driveways, crosswalks, loading zones, accessible parking spaces, bus stops or street corners. If the sidewalk is too skinny to leave at least six feet of walking space, you cannot park there. And don’t park it on the grass.

Basically, just don’t leave it in the way.

Diagram showing where to park bike share bikes and where not to.
Annotations by Seattle Bike Blog. Base image from SDOT’s draft update for their Right of Way Improvement Manual.

What do I do if I find an improperly parked bike?

The easiest way to deal with an improperly parked bike is to move it. Only the back wheel is locked, so you are encouraged to move bikes out of the way. If you support bike share, it’s a good habit to fix poorly parked bikes whenever you see them.

If you cannot move the bike yourself or if too many bikes have crowded into a place, each bike has a company phone number posted on it. Call the number and report the issue. Companies are required to respond as a condition of their permit.

Can I use these bikes without a smart phone or bank account?

Yes. Check out the Lime Access webpage for details.

Is the city paying for these bikes?

No. Each company owns their own bikes and pays Seattle permit fees to operate. Unlike with Pronto Cycle Share — which shut down in early 2017 — there is no public investment in these services.

Do I need to wear a helmet?

Since February 2022, King County and Seattle no longer have an all-ages helmet law. Some nearby municipalities may have their own helmet laws, however, including Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Des Moines, Duvall, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Forest Park, Maple Valley, North Bend, Pacific, Renton, SeaTac and Snoqualmie.

It is legal to bike a pedal-only bike on sidewalks in Washington State except where specifically prohibited (if there’s no sign saying you can’t bike there, then it is legal). However, you must yield to people walking. Go slow, be patient and use your voice (“On your left”) or the bike’s bell to let people know you are passing. Seattle code prohibits riding an electric bike or scooter on sidewalks.

Yes, in general it is legal to bike in bus-only lanes on roads where bikes are allowed (bikes are prohibited on the upper West Seattle Bridge, for example, so bikes are also prohibited from using the bus lane there).

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