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Bike sharing closer to reality in Seattle

Don’t want to walk or catch the bus? Seattle is close to putting a bike sharing program into place that would let you grab two wheels and go.

It’s called bike sharing. It works like the Car2Go system.

You can pay to use the system yearly, monthly or for 24 hours. Once you’ve given your credit card information, you can pick up a bike at one of the stands around the city and ride off.

“I’ve used bike sharing in other cities, and it’s incredibly convenient,” said Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “If you’re waiting for the bus and you see a bike parked there and you only have to go a mile or so, it’s a pretty good incentive to grab that bike and be wherever you need to be in about ten minutes.”

Rasmussen has been pushing for the system as part of the city’s master bike plan. “The bicycles are actually a short-term bike rental,” he said. “The bikes will be in designated areas in what would be popular places of the city for people to use them.”

The system will be paid for by state and federal grants, sponsorship donations and user fees. It will be run by a Portland non-profit that is currently running bike sharing systems in New York, Chicago and Boston. The total cost to set this up will run just under $4 million, and then it will cost about a $1 million a year to operate.

Rasmussen hopes to have these bike stations up and running by next spring.

The city has completed its environmental review of the program, and now the city council must vote to change some codes to allow these bike stations to be set up in the public right-of-way. The city might lose a few parking spaces to set some of the stations along the curb.

The plan is to have about 500 bikes available at 50 stations in the spring, with an expansion to 2,200 bikes at 220 stations around King County.

“I think that we should try it,” Rasmussen said. “I think that once we develop a great bicycle system with protected or separated bicycle paths, as they do have in other cities, I think that it will be used even more.”

The stations will also have helmet vending machines so you can rent a helmet before you pedal away.

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