After a sharply worded letter referencing Seattle's history of racial redlining from City Council Member Bruce Harrell, BMW has expanded its ReachNow car-sharing service to serve the South Seattle neighborhoods of Mt. Baker, Columbia City, and Beacon Hill.
When ReachNow launched in Seattle on April 8, Mayor Ed Murray welcomed the service to Seattle, lauding the service in a statement as "a convenient way to avoid the expense of owning your own vehicle.”
But, like Car2Go when that service launched in 2013, ReachNow cut off South Seattle from its service area. It would have been required by ordinance to serve the entire city within two years.
This was another example, as Charles described yesterday, of urbanist transportation innovations—allowing people to save money and time and go carless—too accrue to the rich, bypassing the poor and working class. (Car2Go finally began serving South Seattle last year.)
In an April 20 letter made public this week, Harrell, who represents South Seattle on the council, said the company needed to "understand the message you are sending to the residents of District 2."
"As a resident of Southeast Seattle for most of my life," Harrell wrote, "and someone who understands and witnessed the history of redlining in this city, I am disappointed."
He cited the city's Race and Social Justice Initiative and the need to "make sure all shared mobility services, whether public or private are consistent with our equity policies."
The city came closer to that reality this week, with ReachNow announcing it would speed up its timeline and begin serving South and West Seattle now. Coverage of the expansion in tech blogs like Geekwire and Engadget made no mention of this class and race angle to the story.
This post has been updated since its original publication.