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.”
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).