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.
— jseattle (@jseattle) October 13, 2014
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.