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Bike share program plans to launch in Seattle in 2014

A bike share program expects to launch in Seattle in the spring of 2014. (AP Photo/file)

Organizers of a Puget Sound bike share program say they expect to have cycles on the road in Seattle by 2014.

Puget Sound Bike Share Director Holly Houser joined KIRO Radio’s Andrew Walsh Show to explain how the whole system will work.

“So what bike sharing is, it’s really public transportation by bike. It’s a dense network of stations in an urban area where a user can go check out a bike at any station, ride it to their next destination, and essentially check it in at any other station they like.”

Houser explains the bike share is really meant to get riders from one place to another, instead of for recreational riding.

“Most trips are typically under 30 minutes and around one to two miles. So this is not a bike that you would rent for three hours and go on a recreational ride on the Burke Gilman.”

Bike use pricing will discourage recreational use, she says. Member fees, for either 24-hour, monthly or annual passes, will allow unlimited “short” rides, but rides over a period of about 30 to 45 minutes may rack up additional charges.

“The clock is kind of running as soon as you check a bike out and the reason that we do that is really to discourage people from using these for long rides. We want to keep the bikes in the system and available to users,” says Houser.

Bikes will be easy to check out, unlocking with the swipe of a membership card, or the purchase of a 24-hour pass. There are also inexpensive helmets available at bike stations for rental or purchase.

Bikes must be picked up and returned to designated stations, but Houser says riders within the system should have no difficulty finding a station.

“The way that the system is set up is that the stations are so dense, they’re typically located within two to three blocks of each other that if you are riding within the system area, there will hopefully be a station within one to two blocks of your destination.”

Houser says they’re pretty well on track and have most of the state and grant funding they need. Now they’re just looking for a few corporate sponsors to come in to cover an additional funding they need.

“We need to raise somewhere in the ballpark of $2 million from private companies in the form of corporate sponsorships,” says Houser. “That’s sort of the biggest sort of wildcard right now.”

If everything goes as planned, Houser says they anticipate launching the bike share program in the spring of 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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