Launching in Autumn of this year, “Pronto! Emerald City Cycle Share” (previously Puget Sound Bike Share) is coming to Capitol Hill, with as many as 10 share stations planned around the neighborhood. Employing the self-described “Join, Take, Ride, Return, Repeat,” system, the Pronto! initiative is catching Seattle up with the many other bike share systems established in other major cities across the nation.
Sponsored by Alaska Airlines, Pronto! is a non-profit working to bring bike share to Seattle, and is planning to launch in late September of this year with a planned 500 bikes and 50 stations at the city’s disposal. Pronto! Executive Director Holly Houser says that 13 station locations total are planned for the Capitol Hill and First Hill area.
“Capitol Hill is currently one of the most densely populated residential neighborhoods in the country,” Houser said. “I think it’s going to be great for the neighborhood.”
The idea of a bike share system in Seattle has been in the works for a few years now. A few years back, a group of committed collaborators formed the King County Bike Share Partnership (BSP) to advocate and plan for a King County program. Within recent years, bike share programs experienced a rapid expansion across the United States, including Capital Bikeshare in DC, Citibike in New York, Divvy in Chicago, Hubway in Boston and Nice Ride in Minneapolis. While these programs are relatively new and still developing, they are growing fast.
In May of 2014, Houser, Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Pronto!’s program details. According to Pronto!’s bike share station location map, the ten locations set for the Hill are spread across the core of the neighborhood, with many of the locations located near grocery stores, major businesses and Cal Anderson Park.
Locations are planned along The Hill’s main streets: 1500 Harvard Ave (near Elliot Bay, QFC, and Seattle Central Community College); 1501 Melrose Ave, 1000 E Pine St (near Cal Anderson Park); 1601 16th Ave (near Trader Joe’s); 1817 12th Ave, 1410 E John St (near Safeway); 504 E Denny Way (near Seattle Central Community College); 504 E Republican St; and at 715 Broadway E and 401 Broadway E (near QFC and a number of other major Broadway businesses). The stations are planned to replace at least one street parking space with rental racks and service kiosk installations.
This is going to be providing another means of public transportation for folks to get around,” Houser said. “There are a lot of people on The Hill who don’t have cars. This adds to the menu of options for Seattle’s public transportation.”
Pronto! operates on a membership and rental system similar to car programs such as Car2Go and Zipcar — annual memberships are estimated to cost $85 dollars, and grant members free rides within a time frame of 30 minutes. Rides exceeding 30 minutes are differentially priced, with 3-day passes costing $16 and 24-hour passes costing $8. Two dollar helmet rentals are also available.
According to Houser, in addition to city guidelines, stations are strategically placed based on a number of factors, including population density, proximity to entertainment, restaurants, and points of interest, and proximity to bike routes and lanes.
“This is going to pair really well and complement the other public transportation options that are out there,” Houser said. “People will be using it to run to the grocery store, go to dinner, run errands, etc. Capitol Hill is kind of a self-sustaining neighborhood where you can get a lot done in the neighborhood itself.”
It’s as simple as the “Join, Take, Ride, Return, Repeat” slogan: starting August 25, users can register for annual memberships online. From there, membership keys are delivered in the mail and can be used at any bike share station kiosk to rent a bike. Each station will have docks for 12 to 20 bikes and a kiosk where non-members can sign up for short term access.
After a bike ride, bikes can be locked back at any other bike share station. Then, users can come back for another bike at any time and rent one out again.
Along with Capitol Hill locations, station locations are planned for Downtown, South Lake Union, Eastlake, and the University District, meaning Capitol Hill Pronto! users can commute from neighborhood to neighborhood.
“In addition to riding around the Hill, you can cruise Downtown for example, or commute to the UW campus, and just drop your bike off there,” Houser said. The proposed system has received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
“We’ve ran into obstacles over the past two years on a number of different levels, but Seattle has been incredibly supportive of bike share,” Houser said. “Feedback has been positive.”
Pronto! has not yet announced an official launch date, and is still in the process of finalizing bikes and locations, but folks can expect a launch sometime in late September.
“I’m excited for this to launch, and I think it’s going to be embraced by the community and become really popular in Seattle,” Houser said.