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Private bike-share pilot looks promising two months in

The private bike shares are outperforming Pronto in a big way


Seattle’s bike-share pilot has been going absolutely swimmingly, according to data presented by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) earlier this week—and by most measures, the private, free-floating bike-share programs are far outperforming our previous bike share, Pronto.

Overall, 118,240 total trips have been taken on the new bikes with an average of 2,231 trips per day. The average trip length is 2.6 miles, with an average duration of 26 minutes.

There are, of course, a few caveats to the data. Spin, Limebike, and Ofo launched in the summer months, while Pronto had a badly-timed fall launch—which is why some typical data is compared to Pronto’s best month.

Another factor contributing to the new programs’ better performance is service area. While Pronto maintained a limited service area around the downtown core, and eventually a tiny sliver north of the slip canal, the dockless bike-shares have been used and parked all over the city.

A few takeaways from SDOT’s presentation to the Seattle City Council transportation committee:

Spin’s first week exceeded Pronto’s best week.

Spin, the first bike-share program to hit the streets of Seattle, smashed through Pronto’s best record during its first week.


The pilot’s best day is better than Pronto’s best day—already.

Pronto had a couple of years to have a great day—but after just a couple of months, the pilot’s best average rides per bike exceed Pronto at its very best. (Compare average rides, and it’s that much more dramatic: 0.7 vs 2.1.)


There’s actually a lower density of free-floating bikes

Pronto’s system at its peak had 100 bikes per square mile of service area, even though they just had 500 bikes. With a current fleet cap at 2,000 and three companies operating, there’s a capacity for 6,000 bikes on the street—but with bikes all over the city, bike density is 70 per square mile.

Side note: There are not currently 6,000 bikes out. While Limebike announced late last week that they’re at the current cap of 2,000 bikes, Ofo told us they’re not quite there yet. Spin hasn’t responded to our request for comment.

Parking is still an issue

Photos show users doing everything from perching a bike on top of the Fremont Troll to just straight up pitching them into lakes. SDOT acknowledges this is a problem; they made a friendly PSA to help set the record straight with bike-share program manager Kyle Rowe:

Remember: “parking in the middle of the sidewalk is bad.”

Most trips take place around the center of the city—with some exceptions

Use maps show the highest concentration of use around Downtown, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, and Belltown, which isn’t totally unexpected. But there are a few peaks around Alki Beach and the surrounding area, Georgetown and the industrial district, Golden Gardens, and Interbay.

The U District is also a hotspot for the bikes.


Ridership is growing as the pilot goes on

As the pilot continues, ridership has only grown—starting from less than 500 trips a day while the bike-share programs were slowly rolling out to more than 2,000 now.