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Bellevue’s dockless bike-share pilot will only allow e-bikes

Bellevue has its own set of rules—and they’re different from those in Seattle

Sarah Anne Lloyd

A few months after Seattle’s bike-share pilot technically ended, Bellevue is rolling out its own pilot program governing dockless bike share—and there are a few changes.

One of the biggest: The City of Bellevue will only issue permits to electric-assist bikes, like the ones that Limebike distributed around Seattle back in February. This is to “help address local topographic barriers to bicycling and make the service accessible to a wider variety of potential users,” according to a factsheet distributed to the Bellevue City Council last month.

Bellevue’s parking rules are also stricter right out of the gate. While Seattle’s rules reserve the right to implement geofencing to tighten up parking rules, that right hasn’t been utilized yet. In Bellevue, geofencing will be used right away to keep bikes from being left in the middle of parks.

The city is also implementing something that’s currently just a pilot in Seattle: painted preferred parking spots to help keep the bikes out of the right-of-way.

Operators, when “rebalancing” bikes (redistributing bikes to areas where people will start trips), will be required to leave half the bikes in these preferred parking areas, or “hubs.” A rewards system is also a mandatory part of a Bellevue permit; operators are required to have some kind of incentive system for a user parking a bike at a hub, or issue a penalty for leaving a bike inside a park.

Some rules are similar, though: All bikes need to be GPS trackable, and data needs to be shared with the city to get a sense of ridership.

As more bikes come to the Eastside, Bellevue isn’t the only city that side of Lake Washington to plan around the bikes. Bothell laid down its own laws back in January, and, according to the City of Bellevue’s factsheet, Redmond and Kirkland aren’t far behind.

Bellevue’s fleet will start at 400 bicycles, and scale up as operators “demonstrate they can abide by the city’s requirements.”

The Bellevue permits are set to go live this May.