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Seattle's new pilot bike share programs facing criticism

The number of bike shares on Seattle's streets are growing, and some say not fast enough while others want the city to put the brakes on the program. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - The number of bike shares on Seattle's streets are growing, and some say not fast enough while others want the city to put the brakes on the program.

As of August 7, bike share service companies Limebike and Spin doubled from 1,000 to 2,000 bikes each across the city.

"It's just more visual pollution, if nothing else," said community activist Elizabeth Campbell.

Campbell is not sold on the bike share service and calls the new business plan "obnoxious."

"It's like a proliferation of littering in Seattle. We have campsites and tents and rubbish and everything else and now we've added one more thing. This is just new and shiny and colorful," said Campbell.

Soon, the bikes will be even more visible-- two additional bike share companies applied for permits.

A Beijing-based company, Ofo, got its permit approved on Thursday.

Under Seattle's pilot program, permitted operators can expand to 2,000 bikes each on September 7, but the Cascade Bicycle Club says that's not fast enough and they’re petitioning the city to allow more bicycles before Labor Day.

"One of the overwhelming things that we've heard so far is people want more bikes and they want them now," said Blake Trask of the Cascade Bicycle Club.

Trask said riders are also requesting access to helmets.

Riders are required to wear helmets by King County law, but not everyone is wearing them and the bike share companies don't provide or rent them.

"It would be the same as not offering brakes on a bicycle," said cyclist Steve Shay who often rides at Green Lake.

Shay recently saw an elderly guy fall off a Limebike at Green Lake and hurt himself. Shay said the man was not wearing a helmet.

"It seems like we're going in the wrong direction, we're going backwards by not insisting people wear helmets when they rent these bicycles,” Shay said.

At the end of the six-month pilot program, the city will decide what to do about all the safety concerns and how the bikes will operate in Seattle.

"So far, we're really excited about the opportunity and we look forward to seeing how it continues to roll out," said Trask.

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