Seattle Bikeshare: From Failure to Success in Less Than Six Months

News of the demise of the Pronto! bikeshare system in Seattle broke in February, but by the end of the year, the city is expected to have the U.S.'s largest bikeshare network.

August 28, 2017, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Spin and LimeBike

The secret to Seattle's bikeshare success. | SounderBruce / Flickr

Matt McFarland reports:

Fewer than five months ago, Seattle shut down its struggling municipal bikeshare system that had been propped up with taxpayer dollars. But in the last month, three innovative bikeshare companies have launched in the city, quickly eclipsing the past failure.

According to McFarland, Seattle now has more bikes available, rides are cheaper, more rides are being taken, and the city government "will be receiving substantially more data on these bike trips, to better plan local transportation."

"By year's end, Seattle is on pace to have the U.S.'s largest bikeshare network. And all of this happened without a penny of taxpayer funding," adds McFarland.

So what was the magic ingredient that said voilà! instead of Pronto!? That would be privately owned and operated dockless bikeshare. Seattle was one of the first cities to allow such systems, in this case LimeBike and Spin, while other cities like San Francisco and New York have proven resistant to the idea.

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