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Two companies racing to become next Seattle bikeshare

A Bluegogo bike in Beijing, China. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Despite the demise of the Seattle bikeshare Pronto, other companies are putting their efforts into high gear to get their bike service into town.

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The Seattle Bike Blog reports that two out-of-town, private companies have set their sights on the Emerald City. The companies operate quite differently than the old Seattle bikeshare system did and come at a much different price.

Spin: Spin is a newer, San Francisco-based bikeshare company that launched in 2017 with 100,000 bikes. The team that manages the bikeshare includes people who came from Lyft and other successful tech companies. It’s currently operating a system in Austin, Texas. A ride on a Spin bike is a flat 99 cent rate.

Bluegogo: Bluegogo is already a successful bikeshare company in China. It is looking to expand into the United States, according to the bike blog that just took one of its bikes out for a test ride. Reporter Tom Fucoloro reports that the bikes are lighter than the Pronto version, but hills can still be an issue. A trip on a Bluegogo bike costs 99 cents per 30 minutes.

A different kind of Seattle bikeshare

The smartphone rideshare model seems to be the winning method of transportation these days — not just for cars. Both Spin and Bluegogo operate like automotive rideshare services already in Seattle, such as Zipcar, Reach Now or Car2Go.

Unlike Pronto, the two companies operate their systems without docks. Riders use a bike within a service area and leave it where they end their trip. The next rider picks the bike up there and moves along. Both Spin and Bluegogo require customers to use a smartphone app that will locate the nearest bike. Users then walk to the bike, unlock it with their phone, and ride away.

It is not yet known when the companies plan to set up shop in Seattle. The Bike Blog reports, however, that both want to ride into town as soon as possible — most likely when summer weather hits. But there could be one speed bump — permits. Seattle doesn’t really have a permit system set up for this kind of business, the Bike Blog reports.

Seattle had attempted to run its own bikeshare system, Pronto, over the past couple of years. The Seattle bikeshare was initially run by a nonprofit, with the city’s help. But Pronto wasn’t run well as a business and the city ended up bailing it out — ultimately buying it, then scrapping it altogether. Pronto stopped service in Seattle in March.

Meanwhile, bikeshares are a growing transportation option throughout the country. Portland started up its own bikeshare system last year with the help of Nike and has touted initial success. Eastside communities have also started looking into bikeshares, as well.

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