Pronto: 2014 Data Release

I sit atop a Pronto Bike  at UW's arena with Dubs, their mascot, enjoying the attention.

I sit atop a Pronto Bike at UW’s arena while Dubs, UW’s live mascot, enjoys the attention.

Well, Pronto has been around since October 13th – Tuesday was the three month mark. So how are things going? Pronto recently released some trip and membership data for 2014. The highlights from their Tumblr:

  • 5,485 System Users: We had 1,984 annual members sign on along with 3,501 casual users of the system (those who purchased a 24 hour or 3 day pass).
  • 21,026 Total Trips Taken: Averaged out, we’ve had 262 trips per day.
  • 34,931 lbs. of CO2 Reduced: 1,778 gallons of gasoline would emit that same amount of carbon dioxide.
  • 43,010 Total Miles Clocked: We totally made it around the world in 80 days. In fact, we circled the globe 1.72 times. In 80 days. Bam!
  • 1,677,390 Calories Burned: 11,981 cans of cola have the same amount of calories.

Also, check out Seattle Bike Blog’s commentary and keep an eye out for upcoming events and challenges for Pronto Members. The prize for January’s rider challenger is a $100 gift certificate!

Pronto One Month Update; Bikeshare is a ‘Gateway Drug’

Pronto general manager Demi Allen and SDOT director Scott Kubly lead the inaugural Pronto Ride along 2nd Avenue’s new protected bike lane. – SeattlePi

We are officially one month and over 10,000 rides into a Seattle filled with bikeshare thanks to Pronto Cycle Share, the new system introduced to Seattle on October 13th. The system is operated by Alta Bicycle Share, the same company that operates similar systems in D.C., New York, Boston, Chicago, and more. Bikeshare is a relatively new concept in the United States but with over 50 systems across the country, including those on major university campuses, bikeshare is becoming a standard for sustainable mobility. The global community has already embraced bikeshare, with over 600 systems around the world. So, what does Pronto mean for Seattle? Continue reading

Millennials: The Key to Sustainable Transportation

Today’s young people simply are not as obsessed with cars as previous generations. In the last 25 years car new vehicle purchases fell about 11 percent among adults ages 21-34. Even more shocking, the number of teenagers with licenses decreased by over a quarter from 1998 to 2008. Miles driven are down too. So, why are millennials forgoing personal automobiles? The better question may be why not?

LifestyleMillennials are flocking to urbanized areas where public transportation, biking, and walking are generally viable modes of transportation. This influx affects the demand for jobs, housing, services, and connectivity. Real estate developers are catering to (and profiting from) a new demand for modern, hip housing in lively neighborhoods with easy access to work, shopping, and nightlife. More and more neighborhoods are becoming increasingly walkable. With increasing population densities comes increased traffic congestion – driving short trips just does not make sense. And that does not even consider the cost of owning a car in urban cores. Here in Seattle monthly parking can run up to $250 in the most expensive lots and parking on the street is not cheaper either.

Options. New businesses like Car2Go and ZipCar add convenience to transportation by providing young people with access to cars when they need personal transportation, but do it without the extra costs of insurance, parking, and maintenance. Bikeshare systems are popping up in cities and towns around the country. Taxi’s still roam the streets but new companies like Lyft and Uber offer stiff competition.

Technology. All of these new transportation hinge on one key component: the smart phone. Don’t know the cab number? Just open your Uber App and a car will pick you up in minutes. Miss the bus? Pull up your Car2Go app and find the nearest available car. Think the sun deserves a nice bike ride? Open Spotcycle and see if bikeshare bikes are available near you.With access to limitless information and a slew of convenience options just seconds away, millennials care more about their phones than other physical possessions. And with so many communication options millennials can stay in touch with their friends without ever needing to leave the house.

Previously, urbanization also meant suburbanization as people flocked to cities for employment but desired to live in quieter suburbs where their children could get a quality education. demand for suburban housing also meant demand for roads. When the roads became congested we widened them to alleviated traffic but this only lead to more congestion through induced demand. Now, however, young people are increasingly looking to live within city limits where they have unparalleled access to amenities and culture. Millennials are delaying parenthood longer than any prior generation so quality schools are less important. Driving is a hassle and it takes away from valuable screen time (I this was more true but clearly many people drive and use cell phones).

Personal automobiles no longer meet the needs of increasingly connected young adults. The key to sustainable urban transportation is recognizing that millennials’ lifestyle preferences, need for options, and affinity for technology drive development. Next week I will examine the “try it before you buy it” approach to active transportation that can be the key to hooking new millennials.

Links:

Seattle Bike Share Unveiled: Pronto!

 

2014.05.06 Bikeshare bike

This afternoon Puget Sound Bike Share officially announced the new bike share program coming to the Seattle area this summer. Named Pronto!, this new service is set to hit the streets starting late summer and service Downtown Seattle, Belltown, Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, Eastlake, and the University District. Pronto! will be in large part funded by local aviation company Alaska Airlines, which has agree to a $2.5 million sponsorship to support the project in addition to $1 million from the federal government, $750,000 from WSDOT,

I am excited for the project and I sincerely hope the bike share helps spur the development of the “all ages and abilities” cycling that SDOT highlights in its new Bicycle Master Plan (passed in April). However, I have concerns:

  • How will safety and ridership be affected by the incomplete bicycle infrastructure?
  • Will the system and network help Seattleites with the common complaint: I am not comfortable riding in traffic?
  • Hills and rain. Either you deal with them or you don’t – will new cyclists be willing to brave the elements?
  • How will helmets be utilized by annual members? $2 is a lot for a member who also has her own bike and helmet. Will this lead to users neglecting to wear a helmet for these rides despite wearing helmets when riding their personal bike?
  • How deep does the funding go? Bikeshare systems are notorious for needing additional funding and the recent Metro transit funding failure may signal serious financial problems in Pronto!’s future if it should need continued public support.

I’ll be honest: as a cyclist with a passion for sustainable transportation I will be among the first subscribers to the annual membership – more out of support than necessity. I want to see this system succeed and I hope for positive effects to seep into the larger transportation systems and culture of the city. Plus, the added convenience of a bikeshare will be welcome for times I find myself without my bike or when I need a one-way trip. Still, I have my doubts. Is Seattle really ready for this?