• Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock
  • We'll be seeing bike share stations like this one in Seattle come September.

Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS) announced today that healthcare nonprofit Group Health will sponsor 15 bike stations in Capitol Hill and South Lake Union. Executive Director Holly Houser tells me the program, which had hoped to launch this May in fairer weather, is now scheduled to launch in late September—the soonest they can possibly launch due to last minute changes from equipment vendors. "Looking on the bright side," she says, "That’ll let us get our sea legs during a lower use season, so that when we hit the busy season next spring, we’ll have all the kinks worked out."

PSBS will make a "big" announcement, she says, revealing the look of the bikes and stations on May 5, with the presence of Mayor Ed Murray and the CEO of a major company that will have exclusive branding of the 500 shareable bikes at launch thanks to a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal. Houser was coy about the precise amount and which company it is. But it's definitely not Amazon, which she says is losing the chance—though the company hasn't closed the door outright on the possibility—of becoming a sponsor before the September launch. PSBS also announced that Vulcan, REI, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are all on board as sponsors of bike stations. Vulcan, for example, is sponsoring two stations at a cost of $36,000 apiece over three years.

In our Slog poll last year, Starbikes (supposing Starbucks is the main sponsor) was a runaway hit—a la New York's Citibike program, where Citibank is the sponsor.

I asked how the Bike Master Plan, unanimously passed by the Seattle City Council last week, plays into the bike share program's rollout. "I think Puget Sound Bike Share is going to be successful regardless," Houser responded, but added that PSBS is integrated into the Master Plan itself and a huge proponent of it being fully funded and implemented. She says the Master Plan would "increase our reach and diversity of ridership," helping attract riders who aren't used to cycling on city streets, who in turn might bolster advocacy efforts to bring the Bike Master Plan to fruition—the plan costs $20 million a year to build out and there are question marks over whether the council will adequately fund it.

While we recover from the shock of King County voters making a terrible decision to not bother funding Metro buses, there's some solace here in that the future of bicycles in Seattle—with Puget Sound Bike Share and the Master Plan both coming online—looks bright.