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

UW Recieves Gold Cycling Award from League of American Bicyclists

(From left) UW Faculty Member and Green Futures Lab Director Nancy Rottle, Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker, SDOT Director Scott Kubly, League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke and Pronto Cycle Share Executive Director Holly Houser. Photo: Jack Truitt.

Last week the University of Washington kicked of its annual Ride in the Rain contest with an award ceremony and panel discussion. Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, presented the UW with an award for achieving the League’s gold level for bicycle-friendly universities.The university’s over the last two years helped them reach this point and the university continues to work to improve cycling on the campus while shooting for the tough to reach platinum award. The appropriately rainy evening consisted of the award ceremony, an insightful and comical speech by Andy, as well as a panel discussion featuring key actors in Seattle’s movement towards a more cycling friendly city. I attended the event and would do a write-up, but Jack Truitt, a UW News Lab student, has already done a fantastic job. Read his article here.

Pronto Cycle Share Just Over 2 Weeks Away: Updates

Here are a few quick updates on Pronto’s October 13th launch. The Seattle Bike Blog did an excellent job covering these, so I will just point you in the right direction.

  • Pronto is installing its first stations now, so keep an eye out for them. The first location to go in will be 9th Ave and Mercer street.
  • Pronto will not launch with helmet vending machines. Instead, it will use a temporary honor system for members to use and deposit helmets. Annual members will also receive a voucher for a free Pronto helmet from REI.
  • Pronto celebrated Park(ing) day alongside many other communities groups by partnering with Bike Works to spread the word and do some basic tune-up work. Great collaboration!
  • Returning to helmets, check out some data from SPD that shows they are targeting the wrong people when it comes to issuing infractions.
  • Mayor Ed Murray is working to get city funding for Pronto to expand into lower income neighborhoods in the Central District.

Bike Share is Coming to Seattle!

A Pronto Cycle Share prototype in front of a dodgeball court at Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill.

A Pronto Cycle Share prototype in front of a dodgeball court at Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill.

Pronto Cycle Share is less than two months away and I could not be more excited for its September launch! I’ve had the luxury of riding the bike on a few occasions and I must say cruising up to Capitol Hill from Downtown is not at all the difficult journey I expected. Whereas most bike share systems’ designs are heavier than average bikes and use only 3 gears, Pronto is lighter than other bike share bikes and has an internal 7-speed hub! Talk about prepared for Seattle! Rather than walk you through the whole bike again, check out this blog post from the Seattle Bike Blog about how Pronto rides. I couldn’t agree more!

How Low-Income Commuters View Cycling | CityLab

Here in Seattle Bicycles are booming. Ridership has dramatically increased in the last several years. Just around the corner is Pronto Cycle Share brought to us by the same company that operates CaBi, CitiBike, Divvy, and many other systems throughout the US and abroad. It is a great time to be involved in the biking scene. But there is one serious problem I notice: biking is a class privilege. I usually put it this way: Seattle is on its way to be a biking city, but only if you are a “hardcore” cyclist with a bike worth as much as a used car. Or a hipster. Or both…(laughs)

It is not all hopeless. Bike Works is an amazing organization working to build community through bicycles and education. Operating in Seattle’s south end, Bike Works specifically targets low-income youth through its many programs including  Earn-A-Bike where youth learn to repair bikes and receive a bike of their own after completing a number of volunteer hours. Cascade Bicycle Club’s Major Taylor Program introduces low-income youth from diverse backgrounds to the fun of cycling. Pronto Cycle Share will have an affordable annual membership that is on par with just one month of bus fare. Things are happening. But what about the culture? Will low-income and diverse communities take up cycling through these many initiatives? Is this something they even want?

Families learn to repair bikes together at one of Bike Works’ Family Bike Repair events.

Many of us who advocate cycling for its power to enhance social justice seem to think so, but a survey of low-income and predominantly non-white communities around Washington D.C. shows different. I am willing to bet Seattle is not so different, and we could learn a lot by changing our approach to thinking about cycling as an equitable means of transportation.Read CityLab’s full article for a good look at this topic. Here are some of the article’s main points about cycling and low-income, diverse neighborhoods:

  1. Poor respondents spend more time commuting.
  2. Most people, poor and non-poor alike, still want cars.
  3. Cycling just isn’t popular among the urban poor (yet).

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?