Pronto decision shows Seattle doesn’t care about your money
It turns out it’s really, really easy to spend other people’s money and Monday’s decision to bail out the Pronto! bike share program that no one uses is a perfect example.
In a 7-2 vote, the Seattle City Council voted in favor of purchasing Pronto!less than a month before the bike share was going to be insolvent. Why was it going to be insolvent? Because no one uses it. It’s a business that requires heavy use from diehard fans, most of whom already own a bike and won’t ever need to rent. Seattle is rainy and full of hills – that’s not fun, particularly when you can hop on a bus to get around. The city’s hills are so inhospitable to your average bike rides, SDOT even wanted to add electric bikes to the Pronto! stations.
But the City of Seattle is so desperate to get approval from the loud activist community, they’ll pass just about anything if it means they can earn some street cred from the people they fear the most.
“This is needed and to have a bike share program that works is something that will contribute to our transportation system,” Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said.
This isn’t about contributing to our transportation system, of course. Ride-share companies like show sponsor Uber did that, but the City fought tooth and nail on behalf of the taxi union to defeat them.
How Pronto! will contribute to our transportation system remains a mystery to those of us who live in the real world. Despite spending and/or committing tens of millions of dollars to expanding bike infrastructure, commuting via bike has decreased. There’s been a clear interest in riding the bus and walking; the money would have been better spent there.
This is a city run by activists for activists and yet again, the average citizen, who just wants to get around the city in a reasonable amount of time, got screwed. Tim Burgess and Lisa Herbold deserve some credit. Both are undoubtedly progressive (particularly Herbold, who replaced an equally progressive Nick Licata) but decided to put common sense over a silly allegiance to a biking utopia.
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