I 💚 bike share! Please don’t mess it up!

Seattle’s city council committee devoted to transportation issues received a presentation last week on our free floating bike share program and then passed an ordinance out of committee. The current bike “free floating” (park anywhere) bike share program is still technically under pilot rules. Lime Bike is apparently currently “winning” – I’m not at all surprised as I use a Lime bike at least a couple times a week and their pedal-assist e-bikes are just enough and I love them.

I do, however, have strong concerns about the proposed permanent rules. I’m writing this up really quickly in a blog but plan to extract a summary to send to my city council members and share it here so you, if you live or work in (or even just visit) Seattle have ideas for what you want to write. Other transportation options than carbon polluting and people killing heavy machinery are critical to a sustainable city (and even electric cars won’t be enough). We need to do everything we can to make bike share a success!

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Electric cars won’t make Seattle green

There’s still a window where we can limit global warning to 1.5 C rather than 2 C. As David Roberts notes in that article, that half a degree means saving hundreds of millions of lives, prevents inundations of some islands and coastal areas, not to mention the affects on the wider environment. That half a degree seems worth it to me.

What would it mean for Seattle to meaningfully contribute to hitting that number? The main thing we need to do is electrify everything, with the underlying energy generated in a carbon neutral way. In Seattle, our utilities are already pretty good. All but a few percent of our power comes from renewable or non-emitting sources. Transportation and building energy use our are “big” sources:


Half is due to passenger vehicles. This includes our diesel buses, but over 95% of our emissions are due to cars and trucks, not mass transit (see table 1 in this document). Clearly the single biggest way Seattle can help save hundreds of millions of lives worldwide is to drive carbon emissions due to passenger transportation to zero as fast as we can. How fast? Some folks say the United States needs to be carbon free by 2035 to have any hope of holding warming to 1.5C (and the rest of the world by 2050). What would it mean for “passenger transport” in Seattle to not pollute carbon by 2035?

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