Transit Notes | Bike share launches Monday, UberPEDAL comes to Seattle, on-demand valet will park your car

  • Bike share: Monday marks the start of service for the Pronto bike share system currently serving Capitol Hill, First Hill and Seattle University, plus downtown, the U-District, Eastlake, South Lake Union, Belltown, Pioneer Square and International District. You can check out the roster of a dozen stations serving our part of Central Seattle here. You’ve probably seen the new stations magically popping up across the neighborhood. After ceremonies in Pioneer Square Monday morning, a series of inaugural rides is planned across the city’s 50 station locations. On Capitol Hill, the “launch rideout” will travel from Broadway and Harrison to the Pronto station at 11th and Pine by Cal Anderson Park. The system is expected to come online for regular operations beginning at 1 PM. 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 and to sign up for memberships. There are plans to expand the system to the Central District in 2015. UPDATE: We’re told that the system will have around 900 paid members at launch.
  • Helmet reminder: While deploying the stations and kiosks has proven to be an amazingly fast process accomplished in a few hours, the Pronto system’s automated helmet vending machines aren’t ready yet. Officials say stations will have an honor system for helmets in the meantime. We’ve also suggested bars, restaurants and shops near the stations consider keeping a helmet or three behind the counter for customers to borrow.
  • UberPEDAL: Starting Friday, bike-riding Uber customers can request a car with a bike rack. For a $5 surcharge, the app-base car service will deploy an UberX ride with a rack capable of holding up to two bikes. The move is part of a series of specialized services the sometimes controversial company is testing. UberFamily, designed for providing safe rides for children, has not yet been rolled out in Seattle. We look forward to UberPets and UberBumpingSystem.
  • On-demand valet: A new “app-based valet parking service” has quietly launched in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood and may roll out soon to other parking-challenged parts of the city. For $15 a day, customers can reportedly summon the service’s “agents” to any drop-off point designated with the Zirx app within “5 to 7 minutes.” The company then “stores” the vehicle — “our comprehensive $2,000,000 insurance fully covers your vehicle and our Agents” — until you request your vehicle’s return and it is delivered within “a few minutes.”
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11 thoughts on “Transit Notes | Bike share launches Monday, UberPEDAL comes to Seattle, on-demand valet will park your car

  1. I’m disappointed the Pronto site on Summit Ave E didn’t take over one of the now-unused #47 bus stops. Like the one across from Top Pot (the Pronto is two blocks south). But I imagine the Pronto sites got finalized long ago. Or does Metro still claim that curb space with an eye to someday restoring service? Because right now they’re being used for car parking.

  2. A quick note on Pronto stations: It seems the planned station at the Central Library has mysteriously fallen through and has been removed from the official Pronto station map. Major bummer as it leaves a hole in downtown coverage (and it was the closest one to my work).

  3. Cliff Mass’ latest article on his blog addresses some of the issues with bike infrastructure spending in Seattle and he claims that the stations have cost the city over 4.4 million dollars to install.

    The city claims that the company — Pronto — is non profit, but as anyone that has worked for a “non profit” knows, for its employees, it can be anything but. I would like to see much more transparency from the city wrt to the amount it has spent installing the kiosks and exactly how the costs will be spread.

    Who will maintain them? Is that on Pronto? Is that on the city? What about when the bikes get stolen or the kiosks get vandalized? Who picks up the tab?

    Sorry I’m just skeptical about the efficacy of the program. 4.4 million would go a long way towards improving the existing infrastructure for all transportation users, not a hypothetical “bike sharing” commuter. As Mass points out on his blog, the Burke Gilman trail is falling apart and it already has a huge user base, not just some hypothetical future one.

    The city claims this will be be good for businesses, I’d like to see how they think that. It seems like it’s good mostly for Pronto, and the people that work there using quasi public endeavors to expand their tax exempt “non profit” business. And of course the city pols, that get to hype up a new “progressive” program.

    Again, I’m not against the bike sharing in principle, but like all quasi public-private partnerships it leaves me uneasy.

    • Matt, notice how cycle tracks just suddenly “appeared” on 2nd Ave and Pike Street? The motivator for that infrastructure is safely dealing with bike share users. Bike share will force the issue in many areas that don’t have dedicated trails like the Burke Gilman. I just hope no one gets hurt because the infrastructure where these stations are located is mostly pretty terrible right now. It will be interesting to see if they announce at the launch Monday how many memberships have been sold. I know they have sold at least 600. But you are right, I a sure it is not cheap to implement the program, and if the figure cited by Mass is correct, memberships at the current fee won’t come near to covering it. I do think it will help the businesses in these areas by making them accessible to more people who don’t want to walk long distances or hassle with car parking or wait for stuck in traffic buses.

  4. I don’t have a car but I’d like to waste my money on Zirx valet parking like those with cars will. Perhaps they fail to realize that waiting 5 to 7 minutes for them to show up is absolutely unacceptable. I have restaurants at which to demand I be seated in VIP seating immediately. But they can still have my money because it’s an app so is amazing. I also like the clever way they spelled the common word Zirx. See in everyday life, it’s spelled Zirks but they went with an x. Impressive.

  5. why don’t the bike share stations here have maps of the system so you can figure out the station you want to go to and how to get there? this is a big critical missing item that as far as I know most other bike share systems have, at least the ones i’ve used

  6. Like many of our other transit options, you just about have to have a smart phone to get optimum use out Pronto Cycle Share. You can see the stations now on the free http://thetransitapp.com/ This app covers many forms of transit not just Pronto, however I have discovered that the bus arrival times are not as accurate as One Bus Away. You can see all the Pronto Stations now on this app.

    Then there is the free app, https://www.spotcycle.net/ for cycle share systems. I haven’t used it yet, I think it will start showing the stations on Monday.

    Finally, Pronto is launching it’s own app on Monday.

    These various apps will allow you to find the nearest station and the route to it, and find out how many bikes and spaces to park a bike are available at each site.

  7. By the way, most news articles quoting Pronto prices forget to mention they will also charge you tax, so a membership is $93 plus some change. Still worth it if you are going to use it more than 10 days per year.

  8. I’m sorry, but this seems like such a waste of money. Did Seattle do this because other cities did it? Who doesn’t already have a bicycle around here? And those clunky bikes are not a good fit for our hills.