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The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Welch Comer presents plans to Pullman City Council

Pullman City Council extends moratorium on electric bikes and scooters, approves contract with Spin
Community+developer+RJ+Lott+presents+resolutions+surrounding+Spin+bicycles+to+city+council%2C+Feb.+27%2C+in+Pullman%2C+Wash.+
BRANDON WILLMAN
Community developer RJ Lott presents resolutions surrounding Spin bicycles to city council, Feb. 27, in Pullman, Wash.

The Pullman City Council heard from representatives of Welch-Comer concerning their role in Project Downtown Pullman at their meeting on Tuesday.

Mayor Francis Benjamin said he was thankful for the patience of the community as the city council works on fixing the broadcasting equipment. There will be a community open house from 4–6 p.m. on Thursday at the Gladish Community Center to inform the public about Project Downtown Pullman.

Next week there will be a drop-in open house about priorities for the 2024–2025 biennium at the Pullman Senior Center in place of a normal council meeting, Benjamin said.

The council moved on to council member comments. Council member Carla De Lira said she encourages all community members to participate in a survey at bit.ly/coastbussurvey to help gain feedback on a possible shuttle running through Colfax, Moscow and Pullman.

The council discussed future agenda items. Council member Eric Ferejan asked for an update on the activities concerning the Imagination Library and wanted them to share the impact it has had. He then asked for an update on Project Downtown Pullman on March 12, although staff may be preparing for an update already.

Council member Megan Guido requested an update from the Pullman Housing Exploratory Work Group so the public can know what they are up to.

Community developer RJ Lott presented resolution R-1324, which is meant to lift the moratorium placed on the enforcement of electric bicycles and scooters that was originally meant to expire on May 10 to be extended to December 31.

“The time will allow staff to take a closer look at the dynamic of the electric scooters and bicycles throughout the city,” Lott said. “No other changes to the original resolution from last summer are proposed.”

The resolution was approved by the council. The next resolution was to authorize a contract with Spin to provide electric bicycles and scooters for Pullman throough 2025.

“A start date for the contract is not listed but one could start at the mutual benefit of both the city and Spin in the very near future,” Lott said.

Spin senior director John Lankford said they have a standard playbook for rider education and training and found it works best when they hold a series of workshops on how to use the equipment and how to use it safely and would be willing to add that to the contract.

Council member Nathan Weller asked about helmets and noticed the plan for 50 e-bikes and e-scooters over the first two weeks and asked if there will be charging locations on campus or somewhere else.

City administrator Mike Urban said city code states there is a helmet requirement that anyone operating a motor vehicle of that kind must wear a helmet.

“What we’ve found across the industry … is that the best policy, the most effective policy is when we put in really good incentives for people to wear helmets,” Lankford said.

One of the incentives for people to wear helmets includes having a notification pop up when someone uses the app, Lankford said. Another incentive is to encourage riders to take a selfie through the app and if they are wearing a helmet in it they can be offered an incentive during their next ride, which appears to be the best method.

Lankford said they can include a portion that notes there will be monthly workshops that include engagement and education on the technology. The scooter has multiple contact mechanisms, including a sticker that includes a customer support line and an email account so any law enforcement officer who sees a scooter that needs to be relocated can contact their team.

Guido asked if the police department is comfortable with their needed involvement. Pullman PD chief Jake Opgenorth said speed enforcement would be difficult and enforcing the helmet laws may increase their workload a bit, but they will have to see what happens. They have not seen an increase in accidents from the scooters.

The council approved the authorization of the contract. The council moved on to discussion items, which included updates on Project Downtown Pullman.

Matt Gillis, Welch Comer Vice President, said he wanted to go over data related to the project. The presentation included information about upcoming meetings, a communication plan for the project and activating communication networks.

Courtney Kramer, Welch Comer public involvement specialist, said there are two upcoming open houses to discuss the project, one being on Thursday from 4–6 p.m. and one on the design, which will be held 4–6 p.m. on March 13.

Kramer said Main St. will be closed to vehicular traffic for most if not all of the construction period. Businesses will be open with temporary signage provided and ADA pedestrian access will be maintained except for a maximum of seven days per door.

On the communication side, Kramer said this is the most proactive and aggressive communication effort they have made.

“We are committed to making sure that community members, property and business owners know to come to us to liaise mitigating construction impact,” Kramer said. “We are also committed to providing the general public with active information.”

Kramer said they are committed to regularly updating the project website to make sure the community is aware of what is going on. In addition, they will be implementing a texting service where if someone texts “pullman” to 59925 they will receive a link to their e-newsletter.

Business owners will receive all the information provided to community members as well as a specialized weekly newsletter documenting the work completed in the last week and looking to the work scheduled for the next two weeks, Kramer said.

Gillis said when Main Street is closed, it will temporarily eliminate 106 parking stalls. One of the ways they can possibly mitigate the loss in stalls is to convert the existing parallel parking on Olsen Street to angle parking.

“It doesn’t change the world, but it gets us from 19 stalls to 26 stalls,” Gillis said.

There will still be 445 stalls within a 5–10 minute walk of Main St, Gillis said. One thing they have heard from the public is the question of how goods get in and out of businesses with Main St. closed. The city has been able to work out eight new parking stalls on Kamiaken north of Main and 26 on south Kamiaken.

Gillis said the buses will still be running from 6:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m., with the only major change being the two-way traffic on Paradise and adding another transit stop directly across from the old city hall.

Council member Eric Fejeran said he appreciated how the communication options were available over text and asked if there is any other method they are aware of to send out notifications regarding the project.

Urban said he is currently in meetings to discuss a service of that kind.

Gillis said there will be a hard surface, not gravel, but possibly concrete, wood or asphalt. There will also be change orders on the project in terms of things coming up during the course of the project that are unexpected. In terms of design changes, the meeting on March 13 will be to discuss the design and talk through any questions.

De Lira said there is an interest in the section-by-section approach to construction and asked how feasible that is at this point.

Gillis said if the city hopes to get this project done in a year then it is unfeasible and they have confirmed that with Apollo.

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About the Contributors
JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen news co-editor
Josiah is a sophomore broadcast journalism and broadcast production double major. He is from Lakewood, Washington and began working for the Evergreen in Fall 2021.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.