Pronto a go-go

End of bike share program looms

Pronto Cycle Share service ends Friday, March 31, a little more than two years its rollout, with $3 million in 2017 re-launch funds being reallocated to other city transportation projects.

Kyle Rowe, SDOT pedestrian and bicycle transportation planner, reports a two-week process to decommission bike share equipment will begin April 3.

The transportation department remains in communication with other municipalities interested in starting their own bike share program, and Pronto equipment will remain in storage until a potential sale agreement is reached.

Pronto members will be reimbursed the prorated amount of their membership starting April 1.

Pronto Cycle Share launched in Seattle back in October 2014, the city finding itself a year later negotiating taking over the program from operator Motivate, formerly known as Alta Bike Share. The Seattle City Council back in March 2016 voted 7-2 to purchase assets in order to pay debt accrued from a loan taken out by the nonprofit system. Councilmembers were critical of the Seattle Department of Transportation for subsidizing the bike share program’s operating costs to the tune of $305,000 prior to the takeover.

The city was denied a 2015 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to increase its bike stations from 50 to 250, leaving sections of Seattle outside downtown and the central area uncovered. Had the TIGER grant been approved, the bike share was expected to reach more than 60 percent of the population, up from 14 percent. The $1.4 million needed for the city to acquire Pronto and spare it from insolvency came from $5 million in funding Murray had earmarked for the planned expansion.

SDOT director Scott Kubly agreed to pay $5,000 in penalties last summer, following a Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission investigation into his involvement in negotiating the expansion of Pronto in 2015 and the city taking over ownership of the program. Kubly left Alta a month before taking over the transportation director position in late July 2014, but did not file a waiver to allow him to work with his former employer or recuse himself from such efforts to comply with Seattle’s ethics code. He filed a disclosure form with the mayor’s office in September 2015.

The $3 million pulled from the bike share program relaunch will go toward Safe Routes to School Program improvements at 19 school, completing a missing portion of the Fourth Avenue bike lane and extending the lane to Vine Street, speeding up east/west Center City bike network design and outreach, and using curb ramps to improve access to Pioneer Square.

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