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City’s first bike share systems could start on the Hill

Whether it’s a large, city-wide network of public bikes or a smaller system at a private institution, Capitol Hill is likely to be at the center of bike sharing efforts in Seattle. The Associated Students of Seattle University (ASSU), comprised of students elected by the Seattle U student body, voted in February to approve formation and funding for Seattle University Bike Share (SUBS). Meanwhile, King County has a grant to plan a county-wide system that could launch as soon as 2012.

Bike sharing schemes have become valuable parts of the transportation systems in cities across the world in the past few years. The networks of public bikes took hold in many European cities, such as Paris, London and Barcelona, in the past decade. However, more recent systems are even proving successful in American cities, like Denver and Washington DC.

There is not yet a launch date for SUBS and many details are still being worked out, reports SU’s student paper the Spectator:

The Bike Share would be available to the campus community, students and staff. According to the resolution, the stated mission of the program is to “promote alternative forms of transportation and awareness of sustainability efforts … to form bike culture on campus.”

According to Keelan Hooper, ASSU’s internal chief of staff, the Bike Share is drawing ever closer to implementation. “It has gathered a great deal of student support, and the support of several departments on campus. The university treats sustainability as a constant priority in all its projects, and is always exploring transportation options.”

This makes the bike share a natural fit on campus. Hooper explains that ASSU is still exploring locations for the bike share, as well as other logistics, and as of yet there is no launch date set for the program.

The program’s resolution states an allotted 20 bikes will be available at Seattle U. The Bike Share isn’t free – instead it stipulates a membership fee as well as a damage deposit, as well as a rental package which includes helmet, lock and key, bike and safety reflectors.

For modern city-wide bike sharing systems, users can access and return the bicycles at docking stations placed around the city. Bikes must always be returned to a dock or the user will start racking up fees. A study completed last year by grad students at the University of Washington looked at the feasibility of a Seattle-wide system. Their report recommends a three-phase roll-out for the system, and much of Capitol Hill falls within their recommended first phase area. The report cites the Hill’s “high concentration of potential bike-share users and the related land use and infrastructure that supports bike-share ridership.”

From the 2010 Seattle Bike Share Feasibility Study

King County has received a grant to design a county-wide program that, if they can get more funding, could launch as early as 2012. The county currently has $150,000 to hire a consultant to plan the system and get all the permitting and siting done (see my previous story at Seattle Bike Blog).

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21 thoughts on “City’s first bike share systems could start on the Hill

  1. I can’t begin to tell you how happy this would make me. I would start biking everywhere instead of always bussing it.

  2. Aww, I remember trying to start the Bike Share program at SU in ’02 as an officer on ASSU. The other council members voted me down. :-(
    Glad to see the current crop of students getting it going!

  3. I hope everyone who uses these bikes has their own helmet. I see waaay too many cyclists in the city sans helmet and it just makes me nervous that something is going to happen, especially given the frenetic pace of car traffic around the neighborhood. Nonetheless, glad to see more diverse modes of transport being pushed!

  4. The county has money? If this is a viable plan then let the bike riders pay for it directly. We don’t license bikes in the city but we build them lanes so they should pay their own way.

  5. This hasn’t really worked too well in many of the places it’s been tried. I’m surprised they pointed to Paris as anything sort of an example, because it hasn’t worked out too well there. For exactly the reasons you’d expect– theft, vandalism, etc. Why would it be so different here? It might work for Seattle University, but for King County? Hmmmmm.

  6. JimS., that article is from 2009, a mere year and a half after the launch of Velib. And considering Paris has made added efforts to improve the Velib speaks to its successes outweighing its shortcomings. Time will tell, but a program like this is a step in the right direction. Like ZipCar for bikes!

    As for Seattle being too hilly for a bikeshare program, wouldn’t that make the city too hilly for bikes in general?

  7. What a tired argument.

    Who is the “we”? The same bicyclists who pay taxes just like you. Do a little research on who is paying for what before you make another dumb comment.

  8. Licensing wouldn’t provide much money. However, money for road maintenance, including bike lanes, comes out of the gas tax. So, the only cyclists paying for roads and bike lanes are those who also own cars and purchase gas.

  9. I figure the fatties will pile these things up downhill as well. I wonder if they come fixed gear with some cool hipster logos or a fancy playing card in the spokes. The shared bikes in Denmark 10 years ago were really really crappy (solid tire bmx style) but a sweet find for a traveler in need of wheels.

  10. I don’ think so. That money pays for highways and freeways where you don’t see bicycles.

    The bulk of maintenance is paid out of the general fund so both car drivers and cyclists are paying their fair share. Anyone who owns a home, rents, purchases taxable goods, collects taxable income, or runs a business also pays for the roads.

    The more people that bicycle means the less a city has to pay for road maintenance. It makes economic sense to encourage cycling.

    If you still think that cyclists should still pay a portion beyond that, then perhaps it should be based on wear and tear.

    Do your homework.

  11. Exactly.

    It might also be a good move to locate bike stations at the base/top of the steeper hills (e.g., Denny Way between Stewart and Broadway).

  12. A neat idea but I predict that within six weeks half the bikes will be stolen or vandalized or missing in action and within six months the project will be discontinued as they wil have run out of money to replace and fix the stolen and vandalized rides if any bikes are even still workable.

    The idea is good, it’s society that needs some adjustment to its chaint ension.

    It will however turn into a nice “Bicycles for the homeless” program even if that is not what was intended.

  13. Sure, I’ll concede that the city’s GF, supplemented by state funds, pays for city roads in Seattle. Property, sales, and B&O tax funds about 60% of the GF, with utility taxes adding another 15% or so.

    Now, I didn’t write that cyclists should pay a portion, so you’re not responding to my argument when you mention wear and tear. Cyclists likely don’t cause enough wear and tear to the roads anyhow.

    I’d bet that the many cyclists also own cars and homes, so they’re likely paying a significant amount in gas and property taxes.

    To your other points: Renters do not pay property tax. It’s a very weak argument that property tax is factored into monthly rents. Most rents are enough to cover the owner’s mortgage, insurance, and (water/sewer/trash bills – although those who rent single family homes typically pay water/sewer/trash whereas apartment and condo renters do not), but not property tax.

    Business owners in Seattle pay taxes on gross revenue, after allowable deductions, of $100,000.00 or higher. So, not every business owner pays the Seattle B&O tax. In fact, many small businesses do not have to pay it.

    Colleting a taxable income? There’s no income tax. Moot point.

    Retail sales tax – yes, you’re right there.

    Finally, smugly telling other posters to do their “homework” or “research” before posting a “dumb” comment while you’re points are not entirely accurate and are clearly open to debate is just too rich to ignore. Perhaps you should wander the streets and proudly tout your impeccable research skills and your toughness behind the keyboard.

  14. My points didn’t need to be accurate. You understood it and that’s what matters most.

    The reason I didn’t respond to your argument is that it was wrong. People going around thinking it is all about a gas tax giving you some special right to the road in a car is just ignorant.

    Don’t be so easily provoked.

  15. Exactly,

    The point is that you apparently have full license to tell others to do their homework and call them dumb despite being wrong yourself. Impressive. Even better, you insult posters and then tell them not to be so easily provoked when they point out where you’re wrong. But, of course, you don’t have to be accurate because your loud opinion trumps all. I guess the point is whatever you want to spin and bang your chest about. Pathetic. I’m pretty sure there’s a column in the Seattle Weekly about you.