PSBS Station Public Input
PSBS Station Public Input

This morning Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS) sent out a substantial and very exciting update confirming rumors that a new, financially solvent bike share vendor has been selected and that the private funding necessary for a full initial launch has been secured. Details on funding will come in May, and an online survey for station locations has been posted online. Earlier this week PSBS published a job posting for a general manager, hinting that a concrete implementation and financing plan had come together. News release below:

Puget Sound Bike Share Confirms Supply Chain Partners for Bike Share System Equipment

April 3, 2014 – In preparation for its 2014 launch, Puget Sound Bike Share announced today that it will be moving forward with world-class partners Alta Bicycle Share and 8D Technologies to provide bike share station hardware, software and operational solutions.

Alta Bicycle Share and 8D Technologies’ software for Seattle will build upon solutions tested and successfully deployed by bike share networks in Washington D.C. / Arlington, Boston, Minneapolis, Melbourne (AUS), London (UK), Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal (CAN).  Seattle’s will be the first program to launch with the new Alta/8D hardware solution.  Consistent with Puget Sound Bike Share’s plans to launch Phase I of the program in South Lake Union, Downtown, Capitol Hill and the U-District, the agreement includes delivery of 50 stations.

An order for 500 bikes will be placed with a well-known global manufacturer later this month.

“Over the last few months, we’ve been working closely with companies who will meet our standards for world-class hardware and brilliantly functional software.  We’re thrilled to work with innovative partners whose equipment and software has been road tested and proven to succeed around the world,” said Holly Houser, Puget Sound Bike Share Executive Director.

In addition to finalizing the hardware and software solutions, this spring Puget Sound Bike Share will make major announcements related to the official bike share system name, logo and web site, corporate sponsorships, and launch date for the network.

In May, Alta Bicycle Share and Puget Sound Bike Share will solicit feedback on station locations and other accessibility issues at a dozen neighborhood planning workshops.  To find out more about these community sessions, please sign up for the Puget Sound Bike Share e-newsletter at

For more information on Alta Bicycle Share and 8D Technologies, please visit

53 Replies to “PSBS Has Vendor and Funding”

  1. Shouldn’t the Seattle City Council limit them to only 150 bikes and require insurance until they know more about these things?

    1. +1. We need to look out for the interests of local bike shops. At $7/day, this would unfairly undercut the rental income of $30-$60/day per bike that local shops depend upon. I think we need a commission and a listening tour and 50 neighborhood summits (1 per 10 planned bikes sounds reasonable), after which we convert this to a 1-year pilot project in order to gauge community support. ;)

      1. You will notice that this bike share company is located in Portland. So far, Portland has used this very technique to avoid having them provide bike share services here.

    2. Wouldn’t the prudent thing be to require training wheels and bubble wrap? Also I’m very *concern*ed that people won’t be able to reach the Fremont *troll*.

      1. I do too. However, I doubt tourists are going to be the primary users for that very reason. Rather like New York, regular commuters who use it as a complement to regular transit will be the bulk of riders. I know it would be my prefered method to reach the Capitol Hill station (or downtown) from various locations on the hill.

        My concern would be that PSBS may be relying too much on projected tourist use for projected revenues.

      2. If I can remember correctly the business sturdy took this breakdown into a account but I, not sure what assumptions went in.

  2. +1. We need to look out for the interests of local bike shops. At $7/day, this unfairly undercuts the rental income of $30-$60/day per bike that they depend upon. I think we need a commission and a listening tour and 50 neighborhood summits (1 per 10 planned bikes sounds reasonable), after which we convert this to a 1-year pilot project in order to gauge community support. ;)

  3. Where’s the 60% artist renderings and video on all these stations?
    Will we have to go up to the mezzanine first to pay for the bike, and will epurse ORCA be accepted?
    The public must know all this before a shovel of dirt is turned!

  4. I knew this already, but I’m suprised they arent stretching this out along the Burke… seems like a no brainer.

    1. If they did that, they’d provide an alternative for the currently slow Cap Hill -> Frelard trips, but this new service obviously should only duplicate existing (fairly-speedy) trips among Downtown -> Cap Hill -> U District.

    2. Haha… DP, well played.

      Yeah, i’m really interested in how much traffic there will be from Ballard/Fremont/UW along the Burke once U-Link opens. Its a bit less sketchy for novice bikers and that 6 minutes to downtown might draw some riders. Hopefully the missing link will be fixed by then… but I shant hold my breath.

    3. Right?!?!?!

      It’s aggravating. The Burke is a beautiful place to bike AND it connects to the new UW Link station… Just two stations would be enough, One in Fremont near PCC/Google/Adobe? and one at Gas Works. Opening up a very nice slice of the city to guests. Imaging offering guests a trip biking through the downtown core, fighting with busses and trucks and hills. Or, a leisurely pedal on the BG after a quick ride on Link.

      1. Is the suspicion that the rollout locations are based on donor locations rather than usage/utility?

    4. I agree completely. It is especially crazy that the map they provide doesn’t show the Burke Gilman. I think it makes sense to go on the website, as folks have already recommended several spots next to the Burke. This is because the bike path connects:

      1) The UW (the second biggest urban center in Washington).
      2) Various bus and train routes. For example, if you want to get to the Roosevelt neighborhood from Capitol Hill, you can take the train to the the stadium (one stop) ride a bike to the Ave, then transfer. The same is true for lots of other areas in the north end.
      3) Fremont
      4) Ballard

      It does all of this without climbing a hill or dealing with scary traffic. This is a huge consideration. These bikes are not fast, nor are they light.

      1. I take it back, the map does show the Burke Gilman, but it doesn’t show it very well (it fades in an out, especially around the U-District). Anyway, lots of people have said the same thing folks have said here: put some stations on the Burke Gilman.

    5. Could be an issue of initial funding. Trips would be be heavily UW-focused in the mornings, and away from UW in the evenings, which would require a lot of spending on station rebalancing (assuming people used them for commutes rather than their own bikes).

  5. Could someone please explain where exactly on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th, there is any biking infrastructure? It seems more like a high speed traffic jam, than a nice place to ride a bike. I’m hoping I’m ignorant and there is a mystical bike lane… This seems like a fairly major issue for SDOT and PSBS to fix if they are serious about people biking in downtown.

    1. There’s a one-way door zone bike lane on Second, and a bus/bike lane on most of Fourth. I’ve also regularly taken the lane on Fifth. A major issue indeed.

    2. The southbound bike lane on 2nd isn’t too bad. I’ve never had a problem with doors if you keep an eye out. Northbound on 4th has a bike lane from Pioneer Square up to about the library then goes sharrow.

    3. All of 3rd is considered bike infrastructure during peak hour when it’s bikes/buses only. Not a great solution for new riders, but works pretty well for experienced riders.

  6. Seattle’s will be the first program to launch with the new Alta/8D hardware solution.

    In other words, beta testers!

    1. Don’t worry, we’re doing it with the new battery powered streetcars too ;)

      Apparently we really like to test out new systems here.

  7. Interesting list of cities. Without realizing it was the same company, I’ve used their services in Boston, Washington, Toronto and Melbourne. I have had good experiences in all four cities. I’m optimistic.

    1. The Melbourne program has failed by every possible usage metric. No matter how convenient you try to make it to access the mandated helmet, the whopping increase in per-ride marginal cost will reduce spontaneous demand to approaching zero.

      This isn’t “beta testing”. The helmet policy is a proven failure.

      That the narrow spectrum of helmet-protectable incidents (single vehicle, medium-speed, over the handlebars) is entirely irrelevant to upright low-gravity-center shared bikes is just the icing on this insane cake.

      1. We all know what’s going to happen is that most users will ignore the helmet law and ride without one anyway, and the cops will quietly agree not to ticket unless the helmetless rider does something stupid and causes an accident.

        While the underused helmet machines do look like a waste of money, it’s important to understand that their primary purpose is not to actually dispense helmets. Rather, it’s about avoiding liability so that a single lawsuit from a single accident doesn’t bankrupt the bikeshare program.

      2. Have you been paying attention to the SPD’s track record of late?

        My primary worry in riding helmetless would involve being shot in the face and then having my corpse served a $103 ticket.

      3. I’m in Melbourne right now, and while the helmets seem convenient enough to get (many of the bikes have one strapped into the front rack, and apparently you can buy a helmet for just $5 at 7-Eleven), I don’t think I’ve seen anyone actually riding one of the bike-share bikes. I haven’t tried it yet.

      4. I’m skeptical that when push comes to shove SPD is really going make an effort to ticket every helmetless bikeshare rider. They might try it briefly, but they’ll soon stop when they realize it isn’t worth the bad P.R.

        It’s just like jaywalking – everybody does it, everybody knows every does it, and any police enforcement of such is inherently arbitrary.

      5. When I was in Melbourne (December 2012) it was sometimes hard to find a bike because they were all in use (it was of course the height of summer and lovely out). I brought my own helmet from the States.

      6. and the cops will quietly agree not to ticket unless the helmetless rider does something stupid

        Or you know, is a person of color or one who appears poor, the ticketing of whom appears to just be “the way it is” and does not make for bad PR.

      7. Breadbaker,

        From Wikipedia: As of May 2011, users made about 13,000 trips each month, short of the goal of 25,000 trips per month.

        By comparison, Hubway in Boston averages nearly 4,000 trips per day.

        Although bikes are naturally more appealing on nice days, bike-share programs are both designed and priced for quick journeys rather than joyrides. It is inconceivable that the bikes were hard to find because “they were all in use”.

        More likely, the statistical failure of the program has led to an staff atrophy and a lack of assiduousness in redistributing bikes on the rare occasions when stations are depleted.

        As for your dragging a personal helmet 8,000 miles in a suitcase just to be able to make “spontaneous” trips, the words quod erat demonstrandum come to mind.

  8. Great news about this!

    Does anybody have any information on who the title sponsor will be? Though entirely aesthetic – I think the branding and identity of the system is a pretty big deal.

    Citibike is so NYC, with it’s blue-blood financial institution feel. Will we get something northwesty? I hope so.

  9. Bikeshare as a piece of city transportation infrastructure still has not overcome the challenge of making itself accessible to the full spectrum of residents in the cities it operates in. Geographic distribution and buy-in requirements typically relegate it to tourists and urban professionals, positioning the bikeshare system and in some ways cycling as a marginal option for those who can afford it instead of an essential and integrated part of the overall transportation infrastructure of the city. Here in Seattle with spotty infrastructure and challenging topography it’s usefulness becomes even more limited. The helmet requirement pushes it further in the wrong direction as well.
    The best thing I’ve heard yet is the idea of putting stations on our best piece of infrastructure (BG trail) because those will get plenty of use. Maybe also along the future west lake corridor and Elliot bay trail up to Ballard and you start to get some loops that are manangeable for visitors and relatively convenient for residents as well. Then they need to make a deliberate effort to get stations south of downtown as well.

    1. The Paris bike-share in particular has been seen as a touchstone of class divisions, a symbol of the freedom-of-movement disparity between the city’s wealthy and those on its poorer outskirts.

      My understanding is that a great deal of (after-the-fact) outreach has been done to enfranchise the residents of less rich and less white towns surrounding the city, and that as the system has gradually come to be seen as a common good rather than as a bourgeois plaything, vandalism has subsided, and Vélib’ is now widely lauded as a crucial piece of the region’s transportation puzzle.

      So it can be done. But it takes effort, sensitivity, and a willingness to privilege access over the petty parochialism of your sponsors. I’m not sure the people running Puget Sound Bike Share have it in them.

      1. As someone who stays in the suburbs with minority immigrant friends when I go to Paris I think their class/race issues don’t translate to Seattle in nearly the same way.

      2. A system that only serves a slim research-tech corridor around Lake Union (with future expansion to Kirkland Google!??) — and is a pain to access on the rare occasions when it might prove useful to others — is still a recipe for abject irrelevance to everyone outside of the ridiculously narrow demographic that PSBS appears to be targeting.

      3. To be fair, future expansions are supposed to include a greater proportion of Seattle than the initial plan (although they still miss out on some key areas, such as Ballard and Green Lake, and even what’s planned could still be postponed indefinitely due to lack of funding).

        In the meantime though, if someone is willing to pay for an extension of the bikeshare system that serves their campus, it does not makes sense to turn their money down out of utopian concerns that it is not “fair” that they are served, while other areas aren’t. Similarly, if Google and Microsoft want to pay for bikeshare nodes around their campus in the future, why turn their money down? If Google and Microsoft are paying for it, it’s not like them being served later will result in other neighborhoods being served sooner.

      4. It does not makes sense to turn their money down

        Yeah, it does.

        Because one-way last-mile commutes from sea-of-parking transit centers to sea-of-parking office campuses are not what bike share is remotely good at.

        Each of those Kirkland bikes will get used once per day. The problem is beyond what redistribution vans can solve. Those $1000 bikes will just sit there 99.5% of the time.

        The Kirkland spot on the map helps to make clear just how clueless PSBS is about the thing it has been charged with bringing into existence.

      5. I mean, goddamnit Eric. There are 500 examples around the world of what makes cycle share successul!

        Why should we accept a program that models after the most conspicuous failures (Australia), and then adds in some bullshit that no one else would even try (suburban office parks) to boot?

      6. But if Google (or Microsoft) is paying for the whole thing?

        Because now we see a 3-phase plan that will be of unacceptably limited utility, and looked upon as a failure, even when “fully implemented”.

        That’s the risk of chasing corporate (and fraudulent-helmet-data-thumping hospital) input instead of trying to do something right!

      7. Overall, I think a bikeshare program on the Microsoft campus would have a greater chance of success if Microsoft took a go-it-alone approach and paid 100% of the cost, with employees swiping their badge to pick up a bike in lieu of special key fobs, credit card swipes, etc. They could also customize the bikes to the specific needs of the campus. For instance, the MS campus is pretty flat, so all the fancy gearing needed to get up Capitol Hill would not be needed. On the other hand, baskets large enough to carry a laptop would be critical.

        That said, if MS chooses to go the PSBS route, while I think it’s a mistake, as long as it’s their money and not the public’s money being wasted, I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not like the public is worse off because of it.

      8. @asdf — I see a big problem with that: Other people who work at Microsoft wouldn’t be able to ride the bikes. It is bad enough that contractors (who work hand in hand with Microsoft employees) can’t ride the special buses, but to shut them out of the bikes seems like an especially crappy thing to do.

        I can see your point about a failure being harmless, but I also see the other point that d.p. made. If this fails, people will be hesitant to support a better system in the future. They will say it is because of the unique nature of our city (our hills) that it failed, not because they put the bikes in a stupid place.

        It is hard to say, of course. Personally if they roll it out the way they have it now, then I think people will overwhelmingly declare this a failure because of the stupid design, not because bike sharing can’t work here. Just about anyone who knows anything about bikes (including the folks here, as well as the folks that responded to the website, as well as people on the bikd blogs) know that Burke Gilman from the UW to Ballard is a great section. If they leave that out, and put bikes in Kirkland, then it should be obvious that they were stupid.

      9. In an ideal world, the service boundaries would be based on careful attempts to cover as many people and as many trips as possible. In a real world where funding is dependent on corporate sponsors, PSBS has to choose between prioritizing service areas that the sponsors are willing to pay for over which areas are in the best interests of the public at large. The ideal solution is for the city to start treating bikeshare as a form of transportation to be subsidized like all other forms of transportation and pay for it themselves.

        But the way things actually work, you have limited public money that will hardly cover anything beyond downtown, and any other areas served are dependent on sponsors’ ability to pay. Hence, the PSBS people can either accept the money and have some public benefit beyond a tiny downtown area, or turn down the money and leave things worse. I don’t envy their decisions here, but as we’ve seen in the past several years, continuing to postpone the launch indefinitely while you wait for more funding will simply mean that we will never launch. The only hope is that the area we are starting with will build political momentum to fund a larger system.

      10. Any number of bike share systems have had to smooth out unexpected quirks as they’ve been rolled out. This includes eventually-successful, corporately well-funded programs (New York comes to mind).

        But it takes some chutzpah to knowingly roll out an initiative so critically flawed that it is bound not only to fail, but to stoke backlash (RapidRide comes to mind).

        If the choice was between this crap, and a delay in shared bikes on Seattle streets while the station plan was refined and the county was lobbied to relax the helmet code, PSBS should have elected to delay. Seattle has enough transit infrastructure below the threshold of functionality as it is.

  10. King County needs some of these:


    Built in 1993 and remodeled in 2013, the Cycle Cable is 130 meter long route that allows cyclists to cruise up a gradient of between 10-18 degrees at a speed of 1.5 meters a second. The contraption is best described as a foot rest on a razed sidewalk platform. Once you pull up, you lean your bike over and rest your drive side foot on the platform to cruise pleasantly up hill.

    1. That is really cool. I wonder how much it costs? I could see adding this on several quiet streets in Seattle. Doing so could completely change the way people use bikes. It is easy to call Seattle “hilly”, but if you have ever walked extensive distances in the city, you notice two things: there are some really steep areas, and there are lots of really flat areas. It is really easy to walk in one general direction in the mountains around here and gain 4,000 feet. But it is darn near impossible to do that in Seattle, unless you are willing to walk over twenty miles. All of this means that you wouldn’t need that many of these “elevators” to connect some really good bike paths.

      For example, you could have one that connects the Burke Gilman with Phinney Ridge. Once on Phinney Ridge, you can go all the way to Shoreline without breaking a sweat. Right now people who use bikes are hard core (and think nothing of going up big hills) or they manage to find a path that is level and works for them (e. g. U-District to Fremont). This type of thing would allow a lot more people to bike a comfortable, easy route.

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