Electric scooters could be hitting the streets of White Center in the new year ahead. King County officials passed a pilot program last week that will pave the way for up to two companies to operate shared e-scooters in the area. King County’s pilot program would allow operators to demonstrate shared e-scooters for one year. The pilot program is scheduled to end on February 28, 2021 if not extended or formalized as a permanent street use program.
King County Councilmember Joe McDermott (D-District 8), who represents White Center, was the chief sponsor of the pilot program legislation. During the committee process, he provided a context for exploration of a pilot program, saying that shared e-scooters could be beneficial “in a traditionally underserved area neighborhood and a real mobility connection for that first and last mile..to give people access to transit.” He also highlighted how the pilot program would be designed with options for unbanked and low-income households and serve non-English-speaking users.
White Center is an unincorporated urban area nestled between Seattle, Tukwila, and Burien. It is one of few urban areas still under the control of King County, and one of the largest Potential Annexation Areas, known in planning documents as “North Highline”. The area is fairly suburban despite a strong grid in many portions. Streets tend to lack sidewalks and bike lanes, with roadways being minimally paved. Wide shoulders tend to adjoin the paved roadways with crushed rock for on-street parking.
Demographics of the area indicate that it is a minority-majority area (58.4%) and that the median household income is just over $47,700 as of 2017. This is significantly different from Seattle where the median household income was just over $86,800 in 2017 and majority Caucasian. White Center is comparably much less wealthy and has many historically underserved communities, which makes its pilot program a unique test case for shared e-scooters.