Near the top of the “Tier 1” transit projects funded by the state’s new Transportation budget is a curious item:
|Project Title||Agency||Leg District||Funding (Dollars in thousands)|
|Bike Share Expansion – Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah||King County Metro||48||$5,500|
That’s a $5.5 million allocation to expand bike sharing to 4 Eastside cities. You may be wondering (as I was), what would Bike Sharing look like if it expanded to those cities? And how did this make its way into the budget?
To find out, you need to go back a few years and read the King County Bike Share Business Plan. It maps out the plan for what a region-wide bike sharing system would look like. It is a few years old now, funding might levy new requirements, and lessons from operations means that the real life system might look a bit different.
The original plan was to launch with 50 stations in Downtown Seattle and near the UW, and then add a total of 110 more stations in those areas and adjacent ones. Finally, Pronto would add 50 stations in a few relatively dense Eastside cities. The program got off the ground with 50 stations last year, and Seattle has a grant pending to expand bike sharing to most of the rest of the city with an additional 250 stations.
Does the state funding mean that Pronto would be heading to the Eastside too, or would it be separate? The answer is likely that Pronto will expand. Pronto is actually an independent non-profit, not an arm of the City of Seattle. Its board is a cross section of transportation staff from various agencies (including King County Metro, the recipient of the state funding) and some community members. It gets grants from the cities and county (who in turn get grants from the state and federal government) and hires a vendor to administer the system. The vendor is Motivate, formerly known as Alta Cycle Share. They run similar programs in other cities like DC and Boston.
What would a small bike share deployment look like on the Eastside? I took the original business plan’s goal of spacing stations out by 1300 feet and placing 10 in Bellevue, and plotted them out in downtown. These are not the actual locations, just some ideas on where they could go. You could cover all of the downtown core easily, and add a few stations at Overlake, Bellevue High School and at the Hotels on 112th. You could easily apply the same logic to Kirkland and Redmond, especially if Microsoft wants to get involved.
The only oddball is Issaquah. Bike shares generally work best in areas where there are lots of people working and living in a dense area that is relatively flat. The Issaquah of today is not particularly dense (except maybe for the Issaquah Highlands, which has too much elevation change). There’s a Central Issaquah Plan to add density (residential and commercial) and a recent designation as a Regional Growth Center, but it seems a bike share won’t make much sense there until after that plan becomes reality. The original business plan calls for Renton in place of Issaquah, but Renton isn’t a much better candidate than Issaquah.
So what are the next steps? According to Ref Lindmark, a Metro planner who heads up Bike Sharing and is President of the Pronto Cycle Share board, Metro will wait for the ink to dry on the budget. Then, they will check in with the state to see what sort of parameters and restrictions the money comes with, and will likely start reaching out to the cities to see what kind of bike sharing systems they want and what funding the cities can add to the state funding (through city money, sponsorship and grants). He said they basically have two years to implement something as the money was allocated in this biennium, so you’ll likely be seeing more about this in the very near future.
112 Replies to “Bike Sharing is Likely Coming to the Eastside”
One big concern I have as a Seattle resident is whether Seattle is expected to subsidize operations costs on the eastside, even if state grant money is paying for the initial rollout. If spreading out to the eastside means membership costs go up for people who will likely never use the system on the eastside, this smells like a big problem.
Issaquah is kind of funny especially – it’s flat and already has decent biking infrastructure, and local bus connections are horrible. I would actually use it a fair a bit – mostly to get some food and shopping in on the way to/from hikes on Tiger Mountain. On the other hand – the residential density in the flat part of town is miniscule (even most of the single-family homes are on the hills, not the flat part). Ultimately, a system in Issaquah whose only users is bus riders visiting from Seattle is not going to get enough users to sustain itself.
And I’m not going to bother going into the obvious criticism about how the existing Seattle coverage is spread too thin, and how many of the stations that do exist are tucked away in hard-to-get-to locations in order to be directly adjacent to whatever building the sponsor who paid for the station wanted served.
It seems like you could get pretty good coverage of the core of Issaquah with 10 stations. Going through the same exercise that Jason did for Bellevue, how about the following?
Issaquah Transit Center (obvious)
somewhere further east along Gilman Blvd (Maple St?)
Lake Samm. state park near the bike trail
bike trail at SE 56th
near the Fred Meyer, maybe uphill near Black Nugget Rd. & SE 62nd
near the library/fish hatchery
near Triple X
Except for one station, those would all be near the same evevation and have good accesss to the bike trails and other destinations.
The issue was Issaquah isn’t elevation, it is residential density. You can’t get multiple uses out of a bike if no one lives there. And those 10 places you mentioned have almost 0 population within a reasonable walkshed.
I chose the station near the Fred Meyer for the nearby apartments, and there are pleny of houses near the library, city hall and Triple X. If Issaquah is going to densify around some of those other areas, there would probably be some mixed use added.
Almost all of the apartments near Fred Meyer are up a massive hill. The ones that aren’t don’t have a convenient, direct pathway to the Fred Meyer unless you count cutting through a parking lot.
TripleX is at an extremely busy intersection in a not-that-walkable commercial district near almost zero housing. You’d be better off a bit to the west, near Confluence Park.
The area around City Hall is predominately single-family homes with some duplexes, but it isn’t that dense or that big an area. All of the development is being planned for areas well northwest and northeast of there (Central Issaquah and Issaquah Highlands).
Issaquah’s largest concentrations of people are mostly up on hills, while the valley floor is where the businesses are. It creates major challenges for the transportation network.
Wonder what ol’ Kemper Freeman will have to say about this?
So, about that helmet law… If bikesharing is spreading across King County then it’s time for the council to review the law and possibly its entire bicycle policy. The law was established decades ago when conditions were very different: lower population, low percentage of bikes, few bike lanes or trails, etc.
When Seattle opened its bike stations it also built more bike lanes around them. I think the mayor said something like, “OMG, bike stations are opening downtown, we have to have bicycle lanes or they’ll be riding in traffic.” Some people question how well-located or safe the bike lanes are, but at least they’re there. When Eastside cities open their bike stations, they’ll likely build more bike lanes too (or at least they should).
All that chips away at the necessity or desirability of the helmet law. I’m not one of those who thinks it must go now, I still think a helmet is valuable and would wear one if I get a bike again. But at the same time I walk past two bike stations on my way home from work and see the helmet bins and wonder, “How much deterrence is this for riders? How much overhead cost for the program? How necessary is it? Can we do something else to increase safety instead?”
So the county should at least review the law in light of the county’s changing conditions and goals and other cities’ safety record. If it doesn’t want to repeal the law completely, maybe it could make an exception for bikeshare bikes. Because they intrinsically travel in a small, well-known area, and the streets between the stations can be targeted specifically for safety improvements.
“How much deterrence is this for riders?”
My guess is an statistically insignificant number. If wearing a helmet is a deterrence for someone to ride a bike, they probably should opt not to bike, as a helmet is probably the least of their concerns when it comes to biking in this city.
That said, the helmet law hasn’t stopped a small amount of people (my visual estimate is around 5% in the summer) from biking (including Prontos) without helmets. Of course, they do so at their own risk, including a $103 fine, but I’ve only seen/heard of someone getting a helmet ticket once in my years of biking.
The helmet law is the most enforced bicycle-specific law in Seattle. See my comment here: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2015/05/11/pronto-cycle-share-starts-charging-day-pass-users-2-to-rent-a-helmet/#comment-657908
That also explains how we avoided bike trips due to a lack of helmet, despite the fact that there was absolutely no chance of my son falling out of the bike. Cultural norms are powerful.
I’m curious how many of the helmet tickets are written as a secondary ticket when the cyclist commits other infractions, such as running red lights or stop signs, which are not included in the SMC Bicycle Infractions statistics. I personally wouldn’t mind if helmet laws were considered secondary infractions, but I can never support eliminating the law.
And your deterrence reference is not valid in a helmet law sense, but I don’t think a parent of a baby lacking a properly fitting helmet can compare to an adult choosing not to ride because of the helmet law. A deterred adult may choose to ride with the helmet law stricken while the parent of the baby without a properly fitted helmet is still not likely to ride.
I work with the data I have. I can’t tell you how many of those were secondary offenses; I’ve been trying to get detailed citation data from SPD for a while now. I can get high-level data, but nothing that tells me what types of citations are being given for each incident. But, the data I do have shows that helmet citations are enforced. The rate of enforcement is going down, though.
I fail to see how this example isn’t what you were looking for. Helmet laws are required for anyone on a bicycle, including a baby. Because my family could not comply with the law, we were deterred from riding.
I could provide more examples of the helmet law being a deterrent, but that’s not really the point. The law’s goal is public health, and at best there’s conflicting evidence about whether it’s effective. More likely, the general trend is for the law to make public health *worse*. It has resulted in negative unintended consequences, and deterring people from riding is just one of them. I’m not aware of studies that show causation (helmet law caused people not to ride), but there are plenty that show correlation (helmet law is enacted and people stop riding).
Here are some real life examples that I tweeted a while back. I won’t tell you what the decisions that each person made for each of these, and I changed the names. But these are good examples to think about, when asking the question: what should the goal of our public health laws be?
– Mary headed off to work on her bike today & forgot to wear her helmet. According to #kingcounty, this is illegal. Should she have driven instead of biking?
– John lives in the UW dorms. He lost his license due to speeding. He bikes w/out a helmet (because he finds them uncomfortable) where bus service is infrequent or non-existent. Illegal, says #kingcounty. Should he just drive instead?
– Tom gets food stamps. He just got a new (used) bike, and is saving up for helmet. That’s illegal, says #kingcounty. Should he not go to job interviews?
Again, none of your examples show that getting rid of the helmet law is appropriate.
Mary has bigger problems if she can’t remember her helmet when planning on biking to work.
Tom can get subsidized bike helmets, from Bikeworks, I believe.
John may have the only valid reason (although I don’t agree with it): he flat out doesn’t want to. He can ride without a helmet, no one will stop him, but he risks injury or fines. That’s his decision and I don’t feel bad for him when he has to deal with consequences.
Again, if people feel so strongly against helmets and helmet laws, why not make it a secondary offense?
The reason helmet laws and bikeshare don’t mix is spontaneity, full stop. When spontaneous trips are at issue, the onus of carting around a helmet in preparation (or paying a supplemental rental fee each time that obliterates the cost-calculation of bikeshare usage), usage is demonstrably and incontrovertibly depressed.
The reason helmets are irrelevant to urban biking is that their design is all about mitigating over-the-handlebars crash incidents, which are made literally impossible by upright bikes at moderate speeds. Helmets don’t effectively protect against any other type of crash, no matter what the study-warping dogmatists at local hospitals try to claim.
What good reason could possibly exist to insist upon a ridership deterrent that provides no health-protective value whatsoever?
Bike advocates across the globe oppose mandatory adult helmet laws. There has not been a single fatality using bike share across the US even though these systems don’t require helmets. King County is an interesting hold out.
@RapidRider, my comment wasn’t about “feeling bad” for those people. Look at them as actors in a bigger system, keeping in mind human behavior. The law says that they should not bike (given their options), but the alternatives are worse for them and for society as a whole.
BTW, Tom lived in NE Seattle, BikeWorks is down south, and getting there is not the least bit convenient.
And forgetting is typical human behavior. Do you really think Mary (a working mom pulling in 6 figures/yr) has “bigger problems”? Have you never ever forgotten your keys, your phone, or your wallet? I’m also guessing you don’t have kids, because they make it pretty darned easy to forget things.
I sold my bike eleven years ago during a move and the helmet law is definitely one of the reasons I’ve never gotten around to replacing it. I doubt the law is enough to stop me on its own, but it’s definitely an obstacle, and it makes the whole idea of biking seem kind of tedious and not-fun.
I bet for most people it’s not that there’s one specific thing which makes them not want to ride a bike, but that there are enough little obstacles put together to make it seem like a lot of work and kind of a nuisance. Eliminating the helmet law probably wouldn’t make the difference on its own but maybe that plus all the other bike projects going on would reduce the perceived hassle enough that a lot of people would become willing to give it a try.
You can see rates of cycling drop in jurisdictions where helmet laws have been adopted. The best documented example I can remember is Australia.
Second as d.p. points out there is some question as to if helmets actually reduce injury rates for crashes where bikes are being used for transportation as opposed to racing. Much of the data cited by helmet supporters is the reduction in head injuries in professional races once helmets became mandatory. This is a much different environment than someone riding a bike at low speeds to the local train station or grocery store.
Remember in countries with much higher rates of bicycle use like the Netherlands or Denmark almost nobody wears a helmet. As best as I can tell there is no epidemic of bicycle caused head injuries in those countries.
From my personal perspective helmets are a pain in the ass and uncomfortable, especially on hot days. In 30+ years of cycling I’ve had 2 incidents where a helmet likely reduced injury in a crash. One was where I hit my head on a poorly placed street sign over a de-facto bike path. The other is where my bike went out from under me on a turn when I went over a wet steel plate in the road. In spite of both incidents I opt not to wear a helmet most of the time when cycling.
Why? In addition to finding them uncomfortable in warm weather, having yet another item I have to keep track of when out and about is a hassle. I end up forgetting my helmet every now and again. Usually I get it back but about once every 6-24 months I end up losing my helmet. It gets left on a bus, sitting at a bus stop, in a coffee shop, or even just stolen off my bike when I forget to lock the helmet along with the bike.
Ah yes, the 1980s Australia study, which only cited a helmet law as a correlation-causation fallacy, yet all anti-helmiteers cite religiously. Did the study investigate other possible causes? Lower gas prices/higher auto usage, change of weather patterns, more public transportation availability/usage, job market decrease, etc?
Again, the great thing is that you can continue to ride helmet-less if you so choose. There are possible consequences, but all helmet-less people know this. But I still am not convinced that there are a statistically significant number of people in this city that would all of sudden start biking if the helmet law were expunged overnight. Now once our bike master plan is hashed out of the next 5-10 years, if there are still stragglers, we can revisit the helmet law, possibly making it a secondary offense. Until then, there are much more pressing issues to address in this city.
Definitely time to review this. I’m not sure what percentage of people are actually deterred from bikeshare because of the helmet rule, though. I suspect it is not massive. Issues like terrain, weather, cost, travel time, etc. are all factors.
I don’t buy a lot of the anti-helmet arguments (many of which would be arguments against safety-related policies everywhere), but I can be convinced that it is not the government’s role to decide this issue for people.
I’m always going to wear a helmet regardless of the law. My dad had a colleague who was killed when he hit a bump and fell off his rented bike while on a business trip. The doctors said a helmet would have very likely prevented the fatal head injury. Literally the only thing my dad has ever asked me to promise him was that I would always wear a helmet.
Was it an upright bike?
(No, I can tell you with great conviction that it was not.)
(And that’s why public policy should not be anecdote-driven.)
Truth be told except for bikes set up race-weenie style it is pretty damn hard to send yourself over the handlebars even on a drop handlebar or mountain bike.
Outside of racing the sort of crash where one ends up going over the handlebars is fairly rare.
Note that trail riding with a mountain bike is a whole ‘nother animal and an activity where I would wear a helmet.
The Pronto helmets don’t fit my head. While a helmet that doesn’t fit may technically put you in compliance with the law, it does absolutely nothing to protect your head. I always wear a helmet when I ride my own bike. With Pronto, I’ll either bring my own helmet if I’m going a significant distance, or do without if the distance is short.
Of course, when I ride without a helmet, I tend to go at slower speeds and make more of an effort to avoid busy roads, even at the cost of additional travel time. For instance, take downtown->U-district. If I have a helmet, I’ll rid Eastlake in the street all the way. Without one, I’ll take a combination of sidewalks and the Chisihaud Loop.
As an FYI about enforcement, I once rode a Pronto bike without a helmet directly in front of several police officers. They didn’t care, as I was not actually endangering anyone.
I was very skeptical about how well Pronto would work with the helmet law, but have been very pleasantly surprised. I’ve used Pronto well over a hundred times, and only twice were the helmet bins empty. Add to this the fact that they are doing some kind of cleaning, and not charging an additional fee for helmets, and I don’t see that there is much to complain about, or many riders being deterred.
If as the system grows, however, they are unable to keep helmets stocked or stay imposing a fee, the drawbacks/deterrence could increase significantly.
In the meantime, I’m very happy to have a helmet protecting my head. This is particularly true on downhill capitol hill to downtown rides, where you can pick up quite a bit of speed and a helmetless crash is a frightening prospect to consider.
Any crash is a frightening prospect to consider.
But you would have to try really, really hard to send yourself over the handlebars on a Pronto bike. And helmets are effectively useless for any other form of crash.
It is best to ride carefully, make eye contact with other road users, and try not to crash.
Also, Pronto does charge extra for helmet use, at least for short-term members.
Also, Pronto’s embarrassingly low per-bike usage rate speaks for itself. Though as much of that is attributable to the asinine coverage map and the loathsome “in-crowd”-oriented marketing strategy as it is to the helmets.
It’s funny how the business plan on the link specified Renton (not Issaquah) as a Phase 3 city, but the funding is taking it away from Renton and adding it to Issaquah. Seems like another case where promises are made to low-income communities and then the rug is pulled out at the last second. Downtown Renton is much more flat and has better access to bike infrastructure (Interurban, Green River Trail, Cedar River Trail, numerous low-traffic city streets) than Issaquah, and could benefit a very large number of low-income individuals who need to get to jobs in an area where public transit downright sucks. Let’s face it, bikes aren’t exactly cheap – especially if you are low-income – if you want something that is reliable. I guess those folks in Renton just need pick themselves up by their bootstraps. After all, it’s more important to satisfy the vocal voters of wealthy suburbs like Issaquah than the lowlifes in Renton who serve you in the service industry.
I can’t be the only person who worries this is a plan for the East side as we wish it were, not as it actually is.
Also, it is a plan to divide bikeshare resources across a multi-polar system.
Multi-polar bikeshare systems do not work.
So it is a plan to pursue (more) failure.
How is it dividing resources? How would Seattle get more resources if this didn’t happen?
Imagine that you are charged with implementing an 800-bicycle program.
You can choose to distribute those 800 bike smartly across an expanding, contiguous, multi-use urban area, thus exponentially expanding the permutations of trips that may be taken within the system.
Or you can keep only 500 bikes in the primary service area, which remains smaller and less fully-covered, in order to put 100 bikes in Kirkland, 100 bikes in Bellevue, and 100 bikes in Issaquah.
Same number of bikes. Same number of stations. Roughly the same implementation and operational costs, from an infrastructural perspective.
Except that nobody uses the suburban nodes. Like, at all. Because they do not scale. The failure of attempted multi-polar systems such as this is well-understood.
So for the cost of an 800-bike system, you’re having the usage of a 500-bike system. Which is likely so limited in geographic scope that is falls well below the critical-mass threshold to be considered any kind of “success”. Like Pronto today.
Seattle is not a special snowflake, Mike. We can do what works elsewhere. We just have to abandon the idea that pursuing known stupid ideas for “equity” is not the path to success.
But we’re not doing that. That’s like your “Let’s build lots of Link stations in the city and nothing beyond the inner suburbs”. The city doesn’t have the money, and neither the county nor the state would fund it because suburban taxpayers don’t agree. You can talk theoretically about “distributing” bikes to remote districts, but there never was a scenario where those bikes would have gone to adjacent city districts. The city would have to put in extra money for that.
Who gives a crap? Seriously?
You know what shitty paradigms yield when applied thoughtlessly? Failure!
You sit here, and you equivocate, and you regurgitate supposed political “truisms” that only remain “truisms” because no one ever calls them out, and then you literally advocate failure.
Why do that? Is advocating failure fun and awesome?
Because I think advocating failure is big fucking waste of time, and is a big part of the reason this city sees so much fucking failure!
I could advocate idealisms like you do, but that won’t change the politicians’ or public’s minds. It’s a long-term process to get a sufficient number of people to think differently to turn policies around. If you say, “It would be better to start Pronto in all the dense areas and expand it along bike trails until it reaches other areas”, then I would wholeheartedly agree with you. But when you speak of dividing a pie, that assumes the decision-makers agree with you on what the pie is. Even if it all comes out of taxpayers’ pockets the same, or there’s some notional “total budget” that’s being allocated, that’s not how it works in practical terms. If Seattle decides to put money into expanding Pronto in the city, it doesn’t affect the Eastside’s pie. If the state decides to give a grant to the Eastside, it doesn’t come out of Seattle’s pie. If ST decides to build a regional mostly-suburban network, it doesn’t come out of city lines that Seattle might build otherwise, except for a few “No” voters who are swayed by this. The ceiling of what taxpayers can afford and are willing to spend on transit is unclear because there are so many artificial restrictions shaping the currently-viable alternatives. It’s certain that wealthy people could pay significantly more for a more comprehensive transit system and adequate housing supply, even without reaching historic levels or European levels. We aren’t even discussing how society could economize to get more transit infrastructure and bike infrastructure under existing tax levels, because the public is so not ready for it.
It’s not “advocating idioms”.
It’s about delineating between success and failure, and it’s rally fucking important, because Seattle culture seems to have long had a pathological predeliction against doing so!
Meanwhile, if you don’t realize that Seattle money and political capital have been directly spent in support of unsustainable prioirities elsewhere, then you have apparently been living in a different city and observing a different planning and construction process than I have.
If there’s a demand for a bicycle rental business (let’s call it what it really is) on the eastside, then why doesn’t an entrepreneur get a loan from a bank or backing from vc’s to build it?
If there was demand for such a program in Seattle, why didn’t an entrepreneur get a loan from a bank or backing from vc’s to build it?
If there’s a demand for roads on the east side, why doesn’t an enterprising private business build them instead of having to rely on the government to do it? Obviously, no more roads should be built since there is obviously no actual demand for them.
If there is a demand for safe drinking water and for treatment of sewage, why doesn’t an enterprising private business build water and wastewater treatment plants, instead of relying on government to do it. Clearly our country does not have a need for clean drinking water or sewage disposal services.
Go ahead and make false equivalencies by equating those other legitimate government functions with a bicycle rental business. You’re not winning some debate point, like you think you are. You’re only making yourself look like you don’t know what the purpose of government is.
Admittedly, my response is a bit of a stretch (probably a huge stretch), but Glenn’s is not. A bicycle system and a road system both serve the same function, to provide transportation to residents and visitors. We spend HUGE sums of money to unnecessarily subsidize the private passenger automobile and individual delivery trucks. Why? So people can drive everywhere and live far away from work??? Why not subsidize something that is more efficient and reduces demand and wear & tear on our infrastructure?
May I remind you that it is a private concession, not a true government entity. It’s like boat rental at Millerslylvania State Park: mostly a private venture.
Also, what do you consider a legitimate government function? Seattle has public power, while Portland has private PGE power at twice the price.
I noticed a few people wandering around Magnolia on the Prontos a few days ago. I think they just followed the Pier 91 Path to the end and then couldn’t find the continuation to the Ballard Locks.
I’m wondering if there would be enough cruise ship passenger demand to justify a station somewhere near the Magnolia Cruise Ship terminal, even considering there isn’t any demand at all off-season?
Try carrying luggage on a bicycle. Most tourists won’t.
You’d have better luck with a pedicab, and I haven’t noticed any of those showing up at the terminal there.
Taxis or shuttle busses (paid for by the cruise ships!) would work a lot better here.
The market for such a station would not be for people arriving with luggage. It would be for people making a port stop in Seattle as part of a larger cruise. Since the luggage stays on board the ship, the people would be traveling empty.
I don’t know if any cruise ships stop in Seattle in the middle of a cruise, rather than the end. But if some do, a seasonal station by the terminal might make some amount of sense. Especially since the stations can simply be packed up and relocated elsewhere during the off-season.
Although, truthfully speaking, there are probably hundreds of more important places in the city to host a station that don’t have one yet, so until funding increases dramatically, I don’t see this making the cut.
The traffic I see on the Pier 91 path from the ships seems to be mostly people who have arrived and settled in, but are waiting for the ship to depart.
The ships seem to stay there a couple days, and I have definitely seen staff on the 33.
There’d definitely be demand for a station near the Ballard Locks (and more elsewhere throughout Old Ballard), as well as much better signage along the Elliot Bay Trail.
There would be demand for these stations, but only if they are part of a fully built-out system that connects them to other parts of the city including downtown and the U district. Bike-share with time limits on individual trips don’t work if there’s nowhere useful to go and drop the bike off within that time limit. With just the locks/old-town Ballard stations, we’d be creating another island much the same as the U District currently is. An island that gets relatively little use. But connect those stations to an overall network, and suddenly you’ve got a usable system that can get you someplace.
I think the following rules for siting stations would be very helpful:
1) “Safety First” — Site stations to encourage users to use bike trails and “low speed, low gradient through streets”. (Siting stations along Eastlake was a terrible idea because people might actually use them. Luckily there hardly ever do.)
2) “Neighborhoods First” — Solve the last mile problem with busses; let people get around their local communities without a car. (This is perhaps the most popular use on Capitol Hill.)
3) “Let Tourists Pay” — Lots of anecdotal evidence that tourists are riding bikes from the cruise ships out to Fremont and Ballard and the BGT. Would sure be nice if stations supported this. (In many bikeshare systems, tourist use provides an outsized proportion of all usage fees.)
Hopefully, these core principals can come into play with future rollouts on the Eastside or in Seattle.
The Eastlake Station is not actually along Eastlake. It’s along Fairview, which does exactly as you wanted with #1, at the cost of being a lot less visible.
2) Only works if a station exists at major transit hubs. The lack of a station at 520/Montlake and Pacific St./Pacific Pl. is striking. I can only hope that the UW Link Station will get a pronto station when Link finally opens.
What Pete said.
Agreed. A Burke Gilman Corridor from Golden Gardens to the UW would probably be quite popular, as long as there were stations at every useful spot along the way (Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, UDistrict, UW) and as long as we actually did something to fix the missing link.
Its truly bizarre that they are expanding to the East Side before doing this most obvious expansion.
Expanding to the Eastside on the road to inevitable multipolar failure, before so much as attempting a comprehensive urban coverage area with a reasonable chance of success, was outlined in Puget Sound Bike Share’s so-called “business plan” more than 3 years ago:
So I guess learning from their many errors and seeking to improve their existing offering is right out, and all the “outreach” they’ve done since opening to seek “community input” was a bullshit farce!
The Pier 91 path gets you from the cruise ship terminal to downtown in what? 15 minutes? It takes me about 25 to walk it, so ot must be something like that. It goes much faster than a city street as there is only one road to cross – at the road entrance to the Port of Seattle lands. It’s also dead flat.
Considering the lack of anything meaningful between Seattle Center and the terminal, and the fact the key measure of time between stations (rather than distance) isn’t that far, I’m not sure the cruise ship terminal couldn’t be part of that developed network. I don’t see it becoming someday any better anyway.
To me it seems much more questionable of there being enough demand spread between the marina, ship crews, tourists, and the winter doldrums (or are there enough that live on boats in the marina plus the winter fishing crews that this isn’t an issue?).
Are there any downtown Bellevue folks who can comment on the prospects for bike-sharing there?
I’m a recreational rider, and anytime I have occasion to try to traverse Bellevue N-S I’ll stay west of 100th Ave OR east of 124th Ave- partly due to scenery but mostly due to safety. My (admittedly ride-by and drive-by) take is that unless there’s some fairly radical surgery to create a critical mass of truly bike-friendly routes, bike sharing is unlikely to find much of a market in downtown Bellevue.
My wife worked in Bellevue until a few months ago. The biking was terrible and scary; the kind of place where you stick to sidewalks.
However, Bellevue is updating their Ped/Bike Master Plan right now: http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/pedbike-plan.mhtm
A planner I spoke to last summer claimed that it was going to be modeled after Seattle’s Bike Master Plan, which could result in a network of protected bike lanes and greenways. However, I haven’t followed up with her (or Bellevue) since then, so I have no idea if that’s still the case.
I frequently bike from my apartment near Library to BTC and Downtown Park. I normally use non-major arterial like 110th Ave, 2nd and 10th St. which feel safer. However, for bike-share to succeed, the city needs to do more to improve the infrastructure.
The factor working in favor would be the relatively flat terrain. Also you can bike to most places in under 10 min which means a return trip to pick up grocery or takeout can be done under 30 mins.
Out of Kirkland, Bellevue, and Redmond, Bellevue is by far the worst. I used to bike down from Kirkland to downtown Bellevue (next to Bellevue TC) often and I was always scared more of the the last mile or two in Bellevue than the other 6 miles in Kirkland. Kirkland has pretty good bikes lanes on most big streets (except 85th and 124th) and has already built a good trail on the CKC. Redmond has pretty good bike infrastructure (including a number of good trails) everywhere.
Bellevue, on the other hand, has almost no bike lanes anywhere. Crossing 405 on 8th or 4th street is almost suicidal in my opinion (at least during rush hour). 10th/12th is OK, but not terribly good. Coming into Bellevue from the north is equally bad – both Bellevue Way and 112th Ave have no bike lanes on a long climb with fast traffic. 116th is better and I believe they are still planning to add bike lanes to it in the near future, which would make things much better.
Bike share in Bellevue would be great, but I really don’t know if enough people here would even use it given the lack of infrastructure.
The 10th and 12th St. bridges over 405 have very wide sidewalks, so I usually just ride in the sidewalk. That part actually works quite well. The problem is that there’s nowhere to go once you hit 116th. The city of Bellevue is looking at fixing this by adding bike lanes on 116th to connect the 12th St. bridge into downtown with the 520 trail.
I agree that trying to cross the 8th St. bridge in anything other than a motor vehicle is extremely dangerous. Even if you don’t get hit, you’ll send enough time waiting at stoplights that you may as well just detour to 10th. (10th, of course, has stoplights too, but in terms of wait time, they’re not nearly as bad as 8th).
I wonder if we’re misreading the market for bike-share on the Eastside. The predominant use case, I’d figure, is for trail use, not any sort of urban mobility.
(I’m not sure how much of the Seattle market is commuter either, but it must be even less on the Eastside). This could be a good thing. It would make for much more balanced trips than a commuter model where all the bikes go downtown in the AM.
Put the bikeshare stations near transit centers and trail access points, and I could see it being very popular with visitors. The road warriors who brave downtown Bellevue during business hours, on the other hand, will prefer their own bikes.
Balanced trips to where?
Bikeshare works well for one thing and one thing only: for enabling quick trips across multifaceted urban areas.
It doesn’t work for recreational excursions, for last-mile connections from transit centers to office parks, or in tiny outpost nodes where you could walk from one end of the micro-coverage area to the other faster than you can type in an unlock code.
Bikeshare in Seattle is already failing, because those responsible for it have refused to spend even 5 seconds researching best practices. This is just more of the same.
As of March 1, there have been 485,000 trips in the five pilot towns — with 436,000 of those rides occurring in San Francisco, according to MTC data. San Francisco has exceeded expectations, but bike use in the other four cities has been lower than projected. That’s why Palo Alto, Redwood City and Mountain View will be dropped from the program.
MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler said those three cities “could maintain and continue, but they would have to do it at cost.” He said San Jose’s ridership was low as well.
“In the case of San Jose, the plan to overcome low ridership is to build a more complete system,” he said. “In these other places, it was determined the market is just not there right now.”
But, you know, let us not let 5 seconds of research get between us and making every single last goddamned transportation error that the Bay Area has ever made before.
Ha. I guess I should have gone out of my way to take a ride on one of those bikes last time I was in the South Bay, before they put ’em out of their misery. Not even the Bay Area, which has the money to go fairly big on stupid ideas, has the money to keep throwing money at ’em perpetually.
This is a common misconception. It is not a long term bike rental. I remember mentioning this to a friend of mine and he thought the same thing. “Thirty minutes? You can’t get anywhere in thirty minutes!”. Yes you can, you can get several miles, actually. But it doesn’t make for a bike cruise (winding down the pretty countryside). It makes for a quick stop to get lunch. Or visit a friend. Or grab a beer.
It even makes sense (in rare cases) to help solve the last mile problem (and this is where I disagree with d. p. a bit). If your transit system is so screwed up that it doesn’t provide good interaction between buses and light rail, then it can provide very good connectivity. As luck would have it, the area where it makes sense (Ballard-Fremont-UW) is also good on every other metric as well. It is quite reasonable in a few months to want to take a quick ride from Fremont to Husky Stadium and then stroll onto light rail line. It is quite reasonable to get off at the other end, and get on a bike and then head over to First Hill or the Central Area. Again, all these areas make sense by themselves, but they also make sense because our transit system is so disjointed. For example, I would love to take a bus from my neighborhood to the UW, then ride one of those bikes to Fremont. That is much easier and faster than making the really slow transfer.
Imagine, Ross, an attempt to use bikeshare to solve the last-mile problem between a Kirkland P&R and Google Kirkland — no doubt one of the things this “plan” would claim to do.
Well, that’s a uni-directional trip that happens only once per day. The maximum number of trips your are able to offer daily is equal to the number of docks you are willing to place at each end.
(Unless you want to dedicate a single redistribution van to the sole purpose of ferrying these specific bikes in the reverse. In which case why not offer a passenger shuttle? And even then you merely double or triple the unidirectional capacity over the course of rush hour.)
But it gets worse. What if a few individuals have biked to Google from a different source dock, thus maxing out the Google dock. The first time one of your P&R-ers shows up to find the dropping dock unavailable will be the last time that person ever rides the system!
Remember — the Google dock is an outpost, not part of an interconnected web in a city. There are reasonable alternatives for dropping your bike. Unlike in a city bikeshare system, here a full dock represents the total breakdown of a patron’s ability to use the system.
So no, sorry, the “remote last mile” problem is not on that bikeshare can fix.
[There are no reasonable alternatives for dropping your bike!]
Unlike DP, I have no problem imagining a recreational ride from a pronto station at South Kirkland to Totem Lake, or vice versa. (Yes I realize a ride to Totem Lake is more about the journey than the destination).
It would require a different pricing model to the free 30 minute rides in Seattle. More like the multi-hour or day rentals offered to tourists at any number of places where recreational cycling predominates.
Yes, the urban pricing/use model won’t work. Never meant to suggest it would. Maybe that’s where the San Francisco model failed in their suburbs.
High vehicle turnover and the potential to enable easier trips for a broad swath of an area’s population and visitors, thus encouraging a broad “buy-in” and a reliable income stream, are intrinsic to the global bikeshare concept.
If you want to run a medium-term recreational rental business, you launch a medium-term recreational rental business. They are different functions.
(Just for starters, a day-rental offering, be it in a European tourist mecca or the Eastside rail corridor trail, is likely to be a round-trip offering. It can therefore be easily human-staffed, and its bicycles locked in a shed. You do not need high-tech $1000 vehicles or docking infrastructure for this.)
I would expect demand between the U-district to the UW Station to be a lot less uni-directional than the South Kirkland P&R to Google Kirkland. There are lots of people going into campus for work, and lots of people passing through campus to go downtown. Which is at least a semblance of balance.
Oh, and another thing that makes bike share between South Kirkland P&R and Google even more ridiculous is that every bus that goes between Seattle and South Kirkland P&R continues right on to the Google campus anyway down a road that is uncongested, even during rush hour. Once you’re already on the bus going right where you want to go, you’re not going to get off and hop on a bike.
Yes, whatever the possible use case for a recreation-oriented service, I agree there isn’t a last-mile transit connection use case for bike share.
And yet I hear a lot of talk in Kirkland circles around bikes using the Cross Kirkland Corridor to connect to East Link. I can’t figure out what they’re talking about. Whether for bike share or people using their own bikes, who is going to ride that distance to meet a train when there are regular buses that are so much nearer?
Yeah, asdf, I agree that east-west between UW station and elsewhere along the Ship Canal is bi-directional. It’s a sensible example for the same reason that an east-west subway is bi-directionally sensible.
I shouldn’t have jumped down Ross’s throat, since this was the very specific-case example he was using. I was mostly objecting to his categorical statement that this was an example of what is usually termed the “last mile” problem. Generally, that term is applied to explain why transit is troublesome for reaching remote employment installations in the sprawling ‘burbs, even those that sit only a mile or two from a major transit installation.
The Kirkland example is far more of a classic “last mile” problem, and it emphatically cannot be solved with an urban-style bike share. Fremont-to-Link can. It can specifically because it belongs to a city, and so there are various uses happing in close proximity and in multiple directions. So it is not analogous.
If the only place you’ve ever been in the world is Seattle, you might be forgiven for thinking that the other odd businesses and homes near NE 68th/108th constitute an urban node that could support a handful of other bikeshare stations with some kind of all-day usage. 6th St S (on the Kirkland grid) is not that far from State Street, after all! It doesn’t quite add up, for both big-picture reasons (it’s all really sparse) and small ones (obsessively disconnected local streets).
Biking the CKC to East Link… is not a surprising topic, at least, for talk. What are people talking about avoiding?
– The 255. The 255 should be faster most of the time, but the delays between Montlake and downtown are certainly frustrating, and during peak hours they take place in close quarters.
– Biking to Bellevue today is miserable by any route; biking to East Link without an ERC trail will continue to be miserable.
– Taking the 234/235 to Bellevue is miserable even when there’s no traffic. Taking it to the “Hospital” station on 116th would be less-bad than crossing back over 405 to Bellevue TC like you have to do today, though.
– The 550 during peak hours is worse for crowding than the 255 and wastes a lot of time on boarding delays and Bellevue surface traffic.
– I don’t know much about the P&R situation driving, but I hear those lots fill up early.
A fully-built ERC-based trail promises a fast, safe, and pleasant ride to Bellevue and there’s no reason it shouldn’t deliver. East Link promises a fast and reliable trip downtown with less crowding, for the time being, than today’s bus routes. Combining the two would result in a reliable, pleasant trip (at least for people that enjoy cycling), if not necessarily the fastest one.
Using bike-share to reach EastLink from Kirkland may appear to maybe make sense until you start to look at the map. Assuming you’re trying to go to downtown Seattle, the 255 does the job pretty well. There’s no need to detour to Bellevue and I-90 just to ride a train. And, from almost anywhere along the CKC, you don’t even need to bike to South Kirkland P&R to ride the 255 – just hop on the bus at any of the stops earlier along the route.
If the concern is traffic congestion along I-5 and Stewart St., you still have the option to get off at Montlake Freeway Station and take Link. And the flat 4/10 mile between Montlake Freeway Station and the Husky Link Station is actually something that bikeshare could accomplish quite effectively – way for effectively than the much longer trip between Kirkland and EastLink on the other end.
Ultimately, though, the 255 should simply be truncated at Husky Stadium, rather than squandering a bunch of service hours downtown.
@asdf2: Using bikeshare to ride from Kirkland to Bellevue, truly, doesn’t add up. Assuming remotely adequate covered bike parking at the “Hospital” station, you’ll save minutes and have more fun using your own bike (unless its fit or maintenance is inexcusably bad) over a trip of that length, with so much flat, uninterrupted cruising.
I’m not going to claim that, on average, biking to East Link using a completed ERC trail will beat today’s 255 on average travel time (though it might win when traffic is particularly bad). A UW-truncated 255, if the Montlake stuff is designed well, would improve peak-hour reliability enough to beat the bike-to-East-Link commute barring once-in-a-decade type traffic disasters. I will claim that some people might rationally prefer the CKC/ERC-East-Link commute without even getting into rail bias. They’d be people that enjoy cycling (possibly people that would do some extra recreational riding on the way home) and they’d be people that work closer to Jackson than Pine. Some might live a 10-minute walk from the 255, and could cover a couple miles biking in that time without trying too hard. And many would switch to the 255 in the rain, of course.
The Pronto grant will do whatever it does. What we should focus on is not obstructing it, but that “medium-term semi-recreational corridor” along the Eastside Rail Corridor and adacent areas. It certainly has the potential for two-way all-day usage, both for transportation and for recreation. Maybe it needs some modifications from Proto’s current business model, such as a one-hour minimum rate. That’s actually an issue for Seattle too because people should be able to ride from downtown to north Seattle or Ballard to U Village without being discouraged by a surcharge. It may not be bikeshare’s primary market but it’s a worthwhile secondary market given the distance between our urban villages and various barriers (e.g., the lakes). So we should focus less on how badly Pronto’s gonna fail and more on designing what network we do want and making a plan to get there.
Travel time is not the only issue. Some people use bikeshares because the transit network doesn’t serve their trip well. Other people use it because they want to bike even if there’s a parallel bus route.
The freebie time allotment is one of the few flexible elements of the bikeshare model that allow it to conform to a city’s particular urban geometry and use pattern.
That said, it rarely rises above 45 minutes, which is what NY Citibike offers. And that is because the service area, though still covering a small percentage of NY’s contiguous urbanity, already stretches quite a ways (Midtown Manhattan to Bed-Stuy).
But let us be VERY CLEAR: such an extensive coverage area works because it is superlatively urban, and the potential permutations of trips there in are countless. This part is non-negotiable. And it is why attempts to suggest “internode” Eastside trips or Pier 91 docks make no sense within the bikeshare concept.
If you have to strain to think of the target use case for a pair of disparate stations, you are planning failure.
I would urge you (and everyone else unclear on the modal applications) to peruse the bikeshare program in the Twin Cities. That has got to be the most successful program in a city somewhat comparable to Seattle.
So what do you see there? A fairly broad coverage area, stretching some distance in a few directions… but only in directions where contiguous moderate density and mixed-use prevail, to the point where decent station density can be justified. No satellites or isolated outposts. No stations in sprawling single-use land.
It’s big enough to be highly useful to anyone who spends a lot of time within the served areas (which is most people), but never overextended or with sacrificial docks that would be full every day for 12 hours and empty the other 12.
Also, the Twin Cities program has a curious split-freebie-allotment model, which seems to expect that that members will use the bikes to travel much farther (60 minutes) than visitor-users (30 minutes). This sounds plausible to me.
But again, no ridiculous multiple poles, and absolutely no gerrymandering for political reasons!
If expanding bicycle sharing to the east side made any sense at all, it would be by slowly expanding the system out from Seattle along ultra safe corridors like Burke Gilman (first time riders aren’t ready to ride in the streets).
Even then I can’t imagine the demand would ever be high that far past the UW campus, and would probably plummet to near zero past Matthew’s Beach Park. Trail access roads between there and Lake Forrest Park are pretty steep and there aren’t many destinations near there.
An expansion through Ballard out to Golden Gardens would make a lot more sense.
Yes, obviously. I said the same thing below. Hundreds, if not thousands of people have said the same thing to Pronto as well. But hey, why pay attention to your potential customers, right?
I think they simply ignored the topography of the city as well as the existing bike paths and bike culture. To ignore Fremont (and the rest of the Burke Gilman), put in only a handful of bikes in the UW (where it is much easier to walk) and then switch gears and focus on the east side is insane. The bikes should be on the Burke from Children’s to the locks. They should also surround Lake Union. It ain’t rocket science.
Here is a link to my suggested bike share rollout from when Pronto was just starting to plan theirs.
It is precisely what you describe and, IMHO, would have been much more successful.
This is an interesting and thoughtful coverage map for the areas you’ve chosen to include, though I remain among the camp that insists that the ability to penetrate and cross downtown areas on your trip — often in ways tangential to the paths you would follow on transit — remains an essential element of any bikeshare scheme.
Your station density is also likely excessive. I can’t even think of a part of Paris with dock density as tight as you’ve placed in Ballard and the U-District.
On the other hand, I really like how you’ve solved an elevation problem with a implicit route to connect Wallingford into the system. And I really like how you’ve problem-solved the SPU/Nickerson area, a surprisingly diverse and busy area with less-than-perfect transit connections.
Pronto would be wise to take your map (with less ambitious station density) under consideration, should it ever put on its big-boy pants and attempt a truly usable coverage expansion across the denser swaths of the “middle third” of Seattle.
It’s a great map and certainly far more useful to me than the current system. (Although one more station at Montlake/520 would make a huge difference). But I also acknowledge the reality that as long as funding is driven by politics, it would never happen. In order to get all sides to agree to fund something, everyone has to get something. You can’t give some neighborhoods everything and everyone else nothing. And the result is the half-assed system we have today.
I’d like to see this at Kent Station too.
Not only for commuting, but also joyriding on the Interurban and Green River trails near by.
Ok, slightly off topic… but did anyone else notice in the linked Tier 1/Tier2 projects document that nearly every major non rapid ride bus route in Ballard (40, 43, 44 and 48) is getting $3mil in funding for improvements?
I wonder what these projects will be… Signal timing? Exclusive Lanes? Digital next bus notifications?
Hopefully its not just bus bulbs.
Correction: 43 is from the U-district, not Ballard.
And what happens to the “route 43” money if route 43 goes away in a few months?
the line item for the 43 is for both the 43 and 44… maybe the money reverts to the 44?
It says “43/44 Ballard to University District”. That sounds like the “43” part refers to 15th-Pacific where the routes overlap. If they’d intended it to be the entire 43 then the title surely would have included “downtown” to let all the legislators know. As to why they said the 43/44 when they could have said just the 44 just as accurately, it’s probably because Olympia is far away and doesn’t understand the details of Seattle and Metro.
I don’t really care about adding bike sharing to the east side (go for it). But I read the King County Bike Share Business Plan and it said this:
Other areas that are discontinuous from the initial launch but could sustain smaller systems of their own, such as Northgate and Ballard
If only there was a neighborhood between Ballard and the UW that could work for bicycles. Maybe an area that has about a dozen bike shops, next to the biggest bike path in the state — you know, a flat area, where these types of bikes make a lot of sense. If only there was a neighborhood like that close to shops, bars, businesses and restaurants (especially Thai restaurants). If only one of the fastest growing companies also just split there offices between one part of that neighborhood and a nearby area, next to a very popular park (and connected to a bike path). Oh well, I guess Ballard can’t possibly be connected to the UW, because we don’t have anything like that.
Seriously, though, what kind of idiot wrote that thing! Man oh man, I bet the bozo never tried riding a bike in this town. Just go to the comments on the bike blog and you will find the same request over and over (Burke Gilman, Fremont, Burke Gilman, Fremont). Hell, if they added stations along there I would subscribe tomorrow. Not to mention the fact that in a few months, the most northern light rail stop in the state will be right off of the Burke Gilman. Do you think that folks from Fremont might want to ride a bike a couple miles to hook up to Link to maybe go to Capitol Hill and downtown? You think?
Holy smoke, I have to wonder what the hell these guys are doing.
“their offices”, not “there offices” (damn homonyms). Oh, and the offices I’m talking about are Tableau, which will have offices in Fremont (west of the bridge and the PCC, right off of the Burke Gilman) and offices at a new building next to Gasworks Park. Maybe they will supply their own bikes.
If only Gasworks Park/Wallingford were on one of the most famous bike trails in the country. If only that area weren’t as hellishly suburban as Bothell to Woodinville.
The path from Bothell to Woodinville isn’t hellishly suburban. But it does pass through a freeway jungle.
I went to Woodinvile P&R earlier this year intending to walk back to Bothell and possibly Kenmore, and also spend some time in the downtown Bothell park. But I got to Woodinvile and I couldn’t tell how far away the trail was and it was so “hellishly suburban” east of UW Bothell that I hightailed it back on the next bus to the university and started my walk there.
As a resident of capitol hill, I will say that Pronto has been an unequivocal godsend, and easily the biggest improvement to my carless mobility. For me it really is a one way street though, I’d say well over 90% of my trips are downhill, with walking or transit for the return.
But for that one way, it easily beats every other form of transit for going anywhere from the ID to Belltown, all of which are about 10 minutes or less, and with an annual membership incur zero per trip cost. Easily beats the bus, usually beats driving (especially with parking), and will probably hold its own with link when it opens.
It also eliminates the need for a second bus on most all other trips, which significantly reduces the time and pain of riding metro. I would really like to see stops at Montlake and at I90/Rainier, as that would greatly improve the transit connectivity to the Eastside. Stops along the Burke west of the university bridge would make a great way to get to Fremont and Ballard.
People seem to want to identify all the use cases where Pronto isn’t working well, and I agree with those assessments. But I also think it’s with pointing out the use cases for which it is simply fantastic.
The more the (contiguous) coverage expands, the more use cases will come to favor the system.
This is not opinion, but well-demonstrated precedent.
Unfortunately, Pronto’s managers are too concerned with placing stations adjacent to sponsor offices and expanding to useless Kirkland micro-nodes to bother demonstrating an aptitude for learning from precedent, or to get any facet of the system working well enough to break the painfully-low-bar 1-trip-average-per-bike-per-day threshold.
Oh, they’re also into bending the rules to let their in-crowd members take bikes out naked for the summer solestice. Because nothing says “courtesy” and “broad appeal” like sweaty butts and body paint on your seats.
God, I hate Pronto / wish Seattle had a working bikeshare program run by civic-minded adults.
I use Pronto a lot. I’m sure, indeed, Pronto has lost money on me, as I’ve never paid a dime other than my charter membership fee, and I use it nearly everyday. Mainly from my office to the furthest north station on my way home, at Dexter and Aloha, but also all around downtown, from Children’s (near my dentist’s) to the furthest west stop on Campus Parkway to catch the 32 home, and from the UW to downtown. If they did expand to Fremont, I’d probably ride to and from there to downtown everyday.
But of course, I’m pretty much in their target everything. If I worked in Ballard and lived on Capitol Hill, that wouldn’t work at all. Even if they built to Ballard, because no one wants to bike up Capitol Hill.
“Pronto’s managers are too concerned with placing stations adjacent to sponsor offices”
Sponsors, as in the ones funding the network. I assume their contribution is more than the cost of the station.
I was shocked that Pronto promoted the use of their bikes in the Solstice Parade. Then I realized it fit their MO: desperate for riders, clueless about attracting them.
Mike, the only significant dollars Pronto has received from an “on-the-ground” sponsor (rather than a branding sponsor, like Alaska Airlines) have been those from Children’s Hospital.
The Children’s dollars had 2 detrimental effects — woefully distorting the roll-out area to include its (currently) most remote and worst-used node, as well as doubling down on the dogma-based helmet b.s. — but I fully understand that it’s hard to argue with $500,000.
These other “station sponsorships” are, by comparison, piddling. Like, really piddling. Most don’t even break 5 digits. They barely help sustain operations for a day, never mind over the course of years.
So to whatever extent placement decisions are made on the basis of these piddling sponsorships which detract from the usability of the system as a whole, they are counterproductive. And given that a large portion of Pronto funding remains taxpayer-direct, this should be viewed as the privileging of private interests to the detriment of public ones.
(It’s not malicious misdirection of resources on Pronto’s part, just utter desperate cluelessness, as Al says above. Privileging high-power meetings over proper research and careful implementation suggests that it’s still amateur-hour over there.)
The question of Pronto’s survival in the short term isn’t operational profitability or usefulness, but convincing people other than users to hand them money. What distortions appeal to politicians? The sales pitch that bikeshare is something great cities have implies downtown-centrism, allowing the system to be shown off to business travelers. But then paradoxically, outside of downtown, an aversion to giving the appearance of “the rich getting richer” regarding cycling resources — the big paradox is that places with great existing cycling resources are where bikeshare is most likely to succeed and therefore provide public benefit. These sorts of distortions and paradoxes are really familiar to anyone watching transit projects. Seattle will fund a downtown-and-periphery plan, and proposes a whole-city system in Move Seattle, but wouldn’t consider a system oriented toward performance because no politician wants to own giving a perk to BGT cyclists that “already have it pretty good”. King County officials have to appear to spread their spending across the whole county, just like KCM and ST do within their service areas.
I believe that mass-transit funding by broad-based taxation is justified by the broad public benefit it provides; of course, not all plausible transit systems provide broad-based benefits, and the less a transit system does so the weaker its case for public funding. This makes broad geographic coverage a worthwhile transit network goal. I’m not at all convinced that bikeshare systems are capable of providing broad-based benefits by providing broad coverage, because they just aren’t that useful to people in the vast majority of most American cities, and geographic coverage is expensive to achieve. A principled case for public funding of bikeshare (as with limited-coverage transit) is that people living in walkable and bike-scale neighborhoods, and people that can’t or don’t drive for whatever reason, benefit rather little from broad-based (here, non-gas-tax) public investments in highways, and in some ways are harmed by them. These people deserve a benefit from public investment, too; businesses in walkable areas, which often have limited car access and watch their taxes fund road projects that carry drivers to highwayside malls and big-boxes, deserve benefits. And, of course, effective bikeshare projects can truly further shared civic goals around public safety and health and the environment. Every part of this case relies on the effectiveness of the system. Effectiveness doesn’t necessarily need to be measured as a business measures efficiency, but it does need to measure real benefit to real people (i.e. people actually using the system) against the public investment.
I agree with every word you just said, except for the implicit (and possibly unintentional) detachment of external-funding acumen from operational effectiveness in your opening sentence.
The successful bikeshares — the ones already such a part of their cities’ fabrics that it would be unthinkable for them to disappear, and everyone wonders how the city ever survived without them; also the ones with high enough usage for patronage to be considered a significant revenue source — experienced much of their success from the moment of their debut.
Ergo, all stakeholders agreed in advance, and as a matter of principle, to place strategies for effectiveness above parochialism. Including private and public funders alike.
To imply that one must (or even can) be subjugated to the other is to misunderstand how crucial consensus-driven smart planning has been to every example that is now guaranteed to stick around.
Any chance Bellevue College, S Bellevue P&R, and Factoria mall could get a station each? I think many students including myself at BC would prefer the 566 over the 240 slog
I doubt it. All of these locations are surrounded by steep hills, and are a bit far apart. They would be way down in the priority list below what $5 million in grant funding could cover.
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