The City of Seattle is considering taking over and expanding the bike share program. But critics, such as KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson argue that it makes no sense to invest in such a system in a rainy, hilly town.
In addition to the takeover, city officials may also want to add electric bikes to the fleet of shared cycles, The Seattle Times reports.
The City would, reportedly, take over the bike share system at no cost. It is currently operated by a not-for-profit group called Pronto, which is run by Puget Sound Bike Share.
If the City manages to take over the bike share system, it aims to do so through a federal TIGER grant, which has many components; one of which would be to increase bike share stations up to 250, expanding them into areas such as Ballard, Rainier Valley, and West Seattle. The City would contribute $5 million to the matching grant, but if it fails, the $5 million will reportedly go toward the expansion anyway.
In The Seattle Times article, Seattle Transportation Director Scott Kubly likened Seattle to Washington D.C., where he previously worked as associate director of the department of transportation — saying both cities have tourist attractions, similar density, and population numbers.
The following is taken from Friday’s edition of the Dori Monson Show on KIRO Radio.
Dori Monson: Mayor Ed Murray wants to spend another [$5 million] on increasing the bike share system. These are those teal bikes that you can pedal around for a couple of blocks, then put it back. Nobody is using them. The bikes are always in the racks. They never get used. Their brilliant plan is to expand the system and spend [$5 million] more dollars.
Scott Kubly said that it’s like a cell phone network. It’s only useful if it’s extensive. Which is nonsense. A cell phone is useful anytime you can use it. A bike share network is useless if it’s raining and you have to go up a hill. But they’ve said that they might add electric bikes.
Jake Skorheim (show producer): So they would have to build charging stations. But what if you are wearing a suit? You don’t want to be pedaling around on a bike. This is currently a program being run by a not-for-profit business, but a business that the City doesn’t have a stake in.
DM: They subsidize them a lot with tax dollars. They don’t have to own the company and absorb any losses … I think this is because Kubly has got connections in that industry and I think this has gotten very sleazy and corrupt.
JS: So I know it’s his agenda. I know he wants to do this thing, but it’s such a bad investment for the City.
DM: I’ve told ya a billion times, that in a city as hilly as Seattle, as rainy as Seattle, it’s a one-way ride down a hill — then they have vans that take [the bikes] back up the hill. But also, in the rain, people aren’t going to use it. It’s not that we have a lot of rain, we have a lot of light, mist rainy days.
JS: Plus the comparison to Washington D.C. is not really a fair one. Number one, there are more tourist things to do in Washington D.C. than Seattle. And two, have you been to D.C.? It’s flat. You can ride everywhere.