Seattle’s new bike share program launched on Monday with 500 bicycles now available for rent from 50 stations around the city. Holly Houser, executive director of Pronto, the Portland, Oregon–based nonprofit operating the program, told local television station KIRO that the rental sites will also offer bicycle helmets on an honor system, free of charge.
With stations concentrated around downtown, Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, and the University District, the Seattle Department of Transportation has touted the bike share program as a key addition to the recently updated Bicycle Master Plan. It’s the latest advancement in the city’s accommodating attitude to two-wheeled transportation. In April 2013, a bicycle activist group called Reasonably Polite Seattleites installed a set of plastic pylons along the bike lane near an on-ramp to Interstate 5; the city removed them—and then replaced them with something more permanent. (Seattle’s chief traffic engineer, Dongho Chang, even sent the group a thank-you note.)
Answering concerns about a few of the new Pronto bike racks that have displaced parking spots in traffic-heavy areas, Houser told KIRO that those installations were the exception, not the rule. “We’re really sensitive to the lack of parking in Seattle,” she said, “So you’ll see a lot of them on sidewalks, or ones where we tried to take the 30 feet back from a stop sign where you can’t park anyway.”
According to Pronto’s website, Seattleites interested in taking advantage of the new system will be offered a daily rate of $8, $16 for three days, or an annual membership for $85.