Seattle gets a new bike share, but how is it different?

Seattle's new attempt at bike sharing launched today -- with two companies offering bikes that can be picked up and dropped off almost anywhere.
Seattle welcomes a new bike share pilot program after the city failed with the Pronto bike share system.
Read what we know now in the questions-and-answer section below.

What’s new about this program?

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Companies LimeBike and Spin are hoping to launch bicycles under the pilot program, and none of them plan to have docks like the failed Pronto system. Instead, the bikes will be free-floating, parked on the sidewalks over the city.

When would the programs start?

Applications for the permits opened earlier this month, and the first bikes went out July 17. The program runs through the end of the year.

How would parking work?

Parking those bikes is another aspect mentioned in pilot program regulations. Read about the regulations below.
Users can't just leave them all over the sidewalk. SDOT will require that they be parked in the part of the sidewalk between the pedestrian walkway and the curb, otherwise known as the landscape/furniture zone.

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What happened to the last program?

SDOT already learned that at least one variation of bike share doesn't work in Seattle. The Pronto cycle share program launched in 2014 became a money pit that never seemed to gain the level of popularity its supporters hoped for.
At what was likely its peak in July 2015, the program had less than 3,000 members, and that number fell to roughly 1,800 by last July. The city bought out the failing program in March 2016, but ultimately ended it this past March, after spending more than $2.2 million over the course of the program.

Why will this be different?

If the peak membership of Pronto was less than 3,000, it remains to be seen how 5,000 bicycles might get used during the pilot program, but companies are betting that the free-floating factor will make all the difference in getting people to use them.

How is Seattle regulating the new program?

Seattle's Department of Transportation last week released regulations as to how the pilot program will be operated, including fees that ought to add up to hundreds of thousands in the city's coffers if all the new companies roll out the minimum of 500 bikes.
In SDOT's regulations for the pilot program, the department sets out that companies must notify users that helmets are required in throughout King County. SDOT's regulations do not, however, require that bike share companies provide those helmets.
King County's helmet law requires that any bicyclist riding on public streets or trails wear a helmet. That same regulation also requires that anyone who rents a bike to someone can only do so if the renter has a helmet.
Spin confirmed that it will "remind and require users to acknowledge that they're wearing helmets before riding," but won't be handing out helmets.

LimeBike, for its part, will give out 1,000 helmets to new users, a spokesperson confirmed by email Wednesday.

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