Hundreds of cycles hitting Seattle streets as bike share program launches

Oct 12, 2014, 1:33 PM | Updated: Oct 13, 2014, 1:15 pm
Pronto! bike-share program, bike share...
Say goodbye to the Pronto! bike-share program in Seattle. (AP)

There’ll be a lot more bicycles on the streets of Seattle starting Monday afternoon, as the city’s highly anticipated Pronto bike share officially launches.

The program kicked off with 500 bikes available at 50 stations around the city, including the University District, Capitol Hill, Fremont, Ballard and downtown Seattle.

“It’s healthy, it’s sustainable, and it provides a means for people to get from point A to point B, take short trips, it connects existing transit,” says Holly Houser, executive director of Pronto Bike Share.

Memberships for the new service cost $85 a year, with users getting unlimited free rides of up to 30 minutes. One and three-day-passes are also available.

Demand for memberships to rent the blue and green bikes has been strong, with over 850 people signed up for the program.

“Sign-ups keep pouring in,” Houser says.

She predicts the bike share program will dramatically change the culture of cycling in Seattle, attracting people from all walks of life, not just hard-core cyclists.

“They’re very accessible for all levels of cyclists, even people who haven’t been on a bike for a long time,” she says of the custom designed bikes.

“The bikes are very comfortable. They’re upright bikes, they have a very comfortable seat, they have fenders, they have a chain guard so you don’t have to worry about getting your clothes dirty, they have puncture proof tires,” Houser says.

Riders don’t need their own helmets. The service offers cleaned, sanitized helmets at each location in individually wrapped packages.

While the program is launching with 50 stations, backers hope to expand it in the coming years. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has proposed $600,000 in his new budget to bring the service to the Central District, Little Saigon and Yesler Terrace.

The goal is ultimately to bring it to the Eastside as well to create a region-wide network, with stations in Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and around the Microsoft campus, Houser says.

Bikes were made available starting at 1 p.m. Monday.

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Hundreds of cycles hitting Seattle streets as bike share program launches