So long, Seattle bike-share program.
The City of Seattle on Friday announced that it will shut down the Pronto bike-share service on March 31.
This marks the end of a controversial and ultimately unsuccessful program in Seattle, with fewer-than-expected members signing up to rent bicycles on-demand to get around the city.
In October 2014, Pronto Cycle Share debuted as a public-private partnership. In 2015, the City Council set aside $5 million to expand the program. But plans changed after Pronto reported that it was “insolvent” due to operating losses ($1.2 million of debt) and low ridership numbers.
This past March, the City decided to pay $1.4 million to buy out the bike-share program, acquire its assets, and expand the service with new electric bicycles.
But now Mayor Ed Murray is using the $3 million in funding originally dedicated to re-launching the bike-share program to instead pay for bicycle and pedestrian improvements around Seattle.
“This shift in funding priorities allows us to make critical bicycle and pedestrian improvements — especially for students walking and biking to school,” Murray said in a statement. “While I remain optimistic about the future of bike share in Seattle, today we are focusing on a set of existing projects that will help build a safe, world-class bicycle and pedestrian network.”
Here’s where the funding will now go, according to the City, with projects scheduled to begin this year:
- Adding pedestrian safety improvements, including traffic calming and crosswalk improvements at 19 schools through the Safe Routes to School Program.
- Completing a missing link of the 4th Avenue bicycle lane and extension to Vine Street.
- Accelerating design and outreach for the east/west connections in the Center City bicycle network.
- Improving accessibility in Pioneer Square by adding curb ramps at key locations.
Pronto was funded in part by grants, sponsorships and user fees. Alaska Airlines, Vulcan, REI, Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, and others put up money to sponsor the program. Brooklyn-based Motivate, which manages similar services in nine other cities worldwide — some of which are completely private — operated the program.
The story is different in Portland, where its recently-launched bike-share program is off to a hot start.
It also contrasts to car-sharing in Seattle, which has proved popular among constituents. The city is one of the top markets for Car2go, the first car-sharing service to launch in Seattle, and now BMW is seeing impressive traction with its ReachNow service.