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New, cheaper Seattle bikeshare could be up and running this summer

Two private companies are vying for Seattle’s cyclists

pronto cycle share
A station for Seattle’s now-defunct cycle share system, Pronto.
Tony Webster/Flickr

In late April, Tom Fucoloro at Seattle Bike Blog reported that two private bike share companies, Spin and Bluegogo, are poised to set up shop in Seattle—but were waiting on the right regulatory environment and weather to make it happen.

Now it’s May, the sun is shining, and, as the Seattle Weekly’s Casey Jaywork reported, City Councilors (and cyclists) Mike O’Brien and Rob Johnson are working ideas to welcome the bikes to Seattle.

A few things would separate these bikeshare systems from the Seattle’s ill-fated public-private—then municipal—bikeshare, Pronto. First, they’re privately funded. Second, the systems are stationless; Fucoloro called it “like Car2Go for bikes.”

O’Brien and Johnson are working on another detail to set future bike share systems apart, too, reported the Weekly—like geographic equity.

One issue with Pronto is that it was slow to expand, and when it did, it was never to low-income or particularly racially-diverse neighborhoods.

The city councilors would also demand that the bikes don’t clog up right-of-ways, that the systems be safe (vendors may or may not be required to provide helmets), and that data on the bikes be shared with the city.

Ultimately, O’Brien expects a special permit for bikeshare vendors to come out of the process, reports the Weekly.

So how do the bikes ride? Can we start getting excited? Fucoloro rode one of the Bluegogo bikes, and it seems promising: It’s lighter weight and quicker to stop than Pronto bikes, but on the flipside, doesn’t feel like quite as much of a tank.

The tires are solid rubber, so they won’t get flats, but they aren’t as wide as Pronto’s. The bike also has fewer gears—and the low gear isn’t quite as low as Pronto—but maybe the lighter weight will help make up for it.

The biggest difference, besides the lack of stations: A ride on either bikeshare only costs a dollar.

Once the timing is right, Bluegogo already has bikes in storage ready to roll into the city.