Time for first Capitol Hill rides for new Seattle bike share

UPDATE: The Capitol Hill rollout traveled from Broadway and Harrison up to Volunteer Park and back down to Cal Anderson with a cruise on the Broadway Bikeway in between (Images: CHS)

UPDATE: The Capitol Hill rollout traveled from Broadway and Harrison up to Volunteer Park and back down to Cal Anderson with a cruise on the Broadway Bikeway in between. The pack of six riders and a Pronto guide spent the first minutes getting used to their new rides. There were a few complaints about seat angles and trouble with a low gear but mostly the group pedaled quietly along a busy Broadway up in Volunteer Park. The hill to the park is a steep slop prompting a few to get off to push and others to pedal a little harder. After a regroup beneath the Black Hole Sun, the group set back off down 14th before wending its way to Madison, then Union through the busy construction zone and onto a quiet cruise up the Broadway Bikeway. A circle onto Nagle Place pass the kids partying between classes at Seattle Central and a pass through Cal Anderson brought the group to its destination: the Pronto station at 11th and Pine. With a push and a “wait for it” moment, each bike was locked back into the rack, in wait for the next paying customer. Click here to make them move :) (Images: CHS)

While much of the excitement of Monday’s launch day for Pronto, Seattle’s new bike share program, is centered on ceremonies, mayoral speeches, and the inaugural first rides in Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill will get an honorary rollout of its own of the system designed to provide Seattle citizens with a new alternative for getting across town. Officials say they expect more than 900 members will be signed up by the time the first official ride begins.

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At noon, bike share members — and CHS — will gather and set out from the Pronto station at Broadway and Harrison for a ride to Cal Anderson Park to kick into gear the start of service on Capitol Hill and the dozen stations serving our part of the city:

After the rollout rides across the service areas of Capitol Hill, First Hill and Seattle University, plus downtown, the U-District, Eastlake, South Lake Union, Belltown, Pioneer Square and International District, the system is planned to be activated and ready for customers starting at 1 PM.

The start of Pronto joins projects like the Broadway Bikeway — currently serving about 600 trips a day — as recent Seattle investments in biking resources around the city.

Seattle’s bike share launch will start with 50 stations. You can view the Pronto map here. Each station has docks for 12 to 20 bikes and features a kiosk where non-members can sign up for 24-hour, or multi-day passes, and or access bikes using a code. Those who pay $85 for an annual membership will be able to bypass the kiosk and check bikes out directly. The $85 annual membership grants Pronto riders unlimited 30-minute trips. There are also 24-hour passes for visitors that cost $8 and three-day passes for $16. Check out prontocycleshare.com for more information.

The memberships will join a $2.5 million, five-year sponsorship from Alaska Airlines in supporting Pronto operations and, eventually, expansion. Mayor Ed Murray’s budget plan for 2015-2016includes a line item to support expansion of Pronto into the Central District next year.

The system is designed around 30-minute or less rides. When you check out a bike, the clock starts. Any ride under 30 minutes is free. A usage fee is charged for longer session — $2 if you keep it under an hour, $7 for up to 90 minutes and an additional $5 for every half hour after that. Regular users who might need to leave their bike also might want to consider carrying a lock. The replacement fee for the cycles is $1,200.

You also might want to carry a helmet. Pronto planners announced that the first-of-their-kind helmet vending machines will not be ready for launch. “When the system launches, the stations will feature an interim helmet-distribution solution that provides a rental helmet from self-serve bins free of charge to users,” Pronto announced. The automated vending machines to dispense helmets are planned to be added in 2015.

Pronto is also now part of the Spotcycle app available for Android and iOS. The app shows station locations and, once the system launches, how many bikes are available at each station.

Pronto bikes will have extra-low gears to help climb hills and internal shifting meaning no deraileur and no chains falling off. Internal shifting is also easier for inexperienced bikers. Planners expect the bike to handle Capitol Hill’s grades with relative ease.

Starting Monday afternoon, we can put Pronto to the test. Check out Seattle Bike Blog for more about the big Pronto launch.

Pronto at dawn (Image: @ro_ket via Twitter)

Pronto at dawn (Image: @ro_ket via Twitter)

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12 thoughts on “Time for first Capitol Hill rides for new Seattle bike share

  1. How is this better than owning your own bike? The locations are inconvenient, 30 min free rides mean these are only ideal for work commuting and what happens when there are no slots to leave your bike downtown when everyone commutes there in the mornings?

    • Yeah but biking around Seattle isn’t really an easy or casual thing to do, especially in frequent bad weather and for people who aren’t very experienced. The hills make it pretty tough if you aren’t a bit hardcore. And the traffic is a challenge too.

      • Those same complaints were rampant while Seattle’s cyclists propelled us into the 2nd highest bike adoption in the U.S.

        You complain, we ride.

        One of these things matter.

      • Yeah I ride too. For years and years all over this city. That’s how I know it’s not so easy for the casual rider to be like ok now I’m going to bike downtown la-dee-dah. It’s not so simple unless you’re experienced, and even then it can be sketchy and tough. Right?

      • Agree completely. The idea of biking in Seattle sounds great but this ain’t Amsterdam. I bike mostly for exercise and deliberately choose hills and if you aren’t ready to struggle you will be in for a rude surprise. It really helps you to appreciate the power of the internal combustion engine. If electro bikes aren’t incorporated I am afraid these bikes are going to be mostly decorations or used primarily for going downhill. If the program were centered around the Burke-Gilman trail, I think it would fare better.

      • the beauty of bikesharing is you can ride a bike for just the good portions of a trip, say where there is a protected cycle track, and use a bus the rest of the journey

      • That’s true, maybe that will make it more enticing for people who aren’t as able to handle the hills. I’ll be interested to see who’s using this and how they do it.

  2. I moved here from DC, and bikesharing had its detractors there at first, too. Now it is insanely popular.

    I just took one of the Prontos for a spin. The bikes have seven gears. Going up John Street between 12th and 15th was definitely a challenge, but doable in first gear, especially if you’re a regular rider. The gears slipped a bit on the steepest section, but still, a decent ride.

    As for the commuters who will fill up all the docks downtown, in DC the bikeshare folks actually take trucks around and manually redistribute the bikes from downtown to the residential neighborhoods in the mornings, and then reverse the distribution in the afternoons. I don’t know if Pronto will be doing that here.

  3. Pingback: Pronto One Month Update; Bikeshare is a ‘Gateway Drug’ | Kevin Lugo