Seattle Bicycle Share Launched Today! Here's What You Need to Know.


I'm confused by this target audience. I guess we'll find out. 30 min sure isn't long. The annual price is the only one that makes sense, hourly, overages and 3 days is bizarro land to me.
I work in Eastlake and have a meeting at UW on Friday. I usually walk to this meeting, I think this week I'll give the Pronto bike a chance. The walk usually takes me 35 minutes, if I can go through the bike process from soup-to-nuts in under 20 I'll consider it a win. I'll probably bring my own helmet, though.
Thank you for sharing.
Given the cost. I can't see under what circumstance I would actually consider spending $8 for a 30 minute bike ride. This seems like an idiotic waste of resources for a hilly city like seattle.
It will be interesting to see how this goes. I walked up and down Pine Street on Friday and passed several of the Pronto stations. Certainly would have been an option heading downhill.

I think the overage fee could be rethought. Why not just charge $1/15 minutes or even 7¢/minute?. Why does the fee increase so precipitously and in such arbitrary time periods? As it is there's a big incentive to get the bike back within a half hour over, but once you're over 8 hours fuck it, might as well keep it all night.

The $8 daily minimum also seems a bit steep, though I'm sure people will do as do my friends in London and Boston, buy a couple memberships and offer one to a friend when they are in town. The annual membership seems like a great bargain.

The overage fees: Under a half hour ride incurs no fee. Up to an hour ride incurs a $2 fee. Every half hour longer incurs a $5 fee. With a maximum fee of $77 for an 8 to 24 hour ride (15 half hours at $5 + one half hour at $2).
I just used one and really enjoyed it.
After running some errands on North Broadway, I hopped on a bike from the Harrison and Broadway station, returning it to the station pictured above. The seat is easily adjustable, though the speeds are little low for my style, but it's so convenient I'll likely be using this every day to get to work.
Yeah for living on top of a Hill and working downtown.
Those of us in the south end will have to wait.
Top of the Hill Down... I would have love to do this drunk about 10 years ago. I'm sure others will pick up my slack.
@4: $8 is for a 24-hr period.
It's pretty much aimed at either tourists, or people who make enough money to own a second car, and live in the priciest areas of the city and don't actually have a practical real need to get around on a bike. The overage fees are enough to make me unwilling to consider it. If they can pay the money back to the city for the initial investment, good idea. Otherwise, as someone who occasionally bikes and drives, I hope they follow the rules of traffic so as not to spoil the road for the rest of the responsible bikers.
@10 How many 30 minute bike rides does the average person take per day? How many would it be reasonable or useful? Sounds like a rip to me.
@12: I took 3 in a day while visiting Boston in April and using Hubway. I have an annual membership here.
I have used the Bike share program in NYC and it works great. It's meant to replace a bus ride, or can ride, or walk - not an afternoon of driving around doing errands; though you could use it for that by redocking and then taking another bike. Psyched to try it out.
I predict that a lot of tourists (especially those for whom English is not their first language) are going to get a nasty surprise when they buy a one-day pass for $8 and ride around for several hours. I remember trying to read through all the rules and charges associated with similar bike kiosks in Europe before giving up - at this point I am not sure if I dodged a similar bullet over there.

A thirty-minute timer makes these thing pretty unappealing to anyone who want to use one casually and who doesn't have every kiosk location memorized. Is this a typical bike sharing policy - seems designed to rip off everyone but the "insiders".

And the idea that I might end up with a $1200 charge on my credit card if the bike is stolen or if the check-in process somehow malfunctions also makes using these bikes seem like a bad idea to me personally.

Perfect time of year to launch this... good way to get a head start on the rust before anyone uses them.
Tried it today for free.

30 minutes is short but who wants or needs to ride that long?

You can cover 4-5 miles in that time which is a pretty big distance in the city.

The point is to ride station to station not station and back.
how much has the City invested in this for-profit operation?

was there bidding and alternative models for user fees considered?

(sorry for not knowing if this has been covered before...)
@15: Yes, this is typical bike-sharing policy. And you don't need to memorize locations if you have the app.
$8 [eight dollars] to use a bike for the day and you STILL have to look like an idiot with Alaska Airlines logos all over you bike. What the hell. Someone got greedy. Just like how rental cars aren't bright green and plastered with ENTERPRISE RENTAL CAR all over then, no self respecting person wants to ride a bright green bike with ads all over it.
$8 [eight dollars] to use a bike for the day and you STILL have to look like an idiot with Alaska Airlines logos all over your bike. What the hell. Someone got greedy. Just like how rental cars aren't bright green and plastered with ENTERPRISE RENTAL CAR all over then, no self respecting person wants to ride a bright green bike with ads all over it.
I, too, am disillusioned by the $8 price point. What's the cost of 30 minutes of bike share in London? 2£ (less than $4). What's the cost of 30 minutes of bike share in Paris? 1.5€ (less than $3). When I visited those cities, I took bike share everywhere I went. But if it had cost the equivalent of $8 I would have just took a cab.
Here's a bike that's $50 for unlimited unlimited rides. No overages, no ads. Bike racks conveniently located all over town. Revolutionary!…
i'm a prematurely old man and i love complaining about urban amenities i'll never use anyway because i'm too cheap. i think i'll vote republican and judge people i've never met.
@18, that reminds me of all Goldy's diatribes against ridesharing where "requires a cellphone" was a bad thing. Hope you plan to ride from one station to another and can look it up on your smartphone, because it sure gets expensive if you leave your pronto bike parked at a generic bike rack while doing something.
I just rode one station to station, and it was very enjoyable. @19, those of us who comment on blogs like this one should not worry about seeming foolish.
The late fees as they are now are why I won't be signing up.

San Francisco has the same program for the same price, but no corporate logos.
As long as you judge people you have already met, you'll always be welcome here
this is bound to fail. First, no city with a helmet law has a successful bike share program. Second the price is too high.
$8/1-day, $16/3-day, and no weekly or monthly option makes Pronto unusually expensive for short-term usage even by the standards of other U.S. programs.

Maybe if they decide to make the helmet-share free in perpetuity (until the dumb and science-twisting law is repealed), then Pronto has a chance of being useful. Otherwise, I worry we're looking at the first high-profile North American bikeshare failure.
I should mention that Pronto offers one fantastic innovation: the ability to buy a fob without buying an annual membership, and to then (hypothetically) apply future short-term rentals to that same fob.

Bikeshare with a fob works infinitely better than bikeshare with no fob.
@29, nah, they've got a plan to show that bike shares can work even where helmet laws exist.

The silly thing is that you will promptly ride around with a fear of being doored and scared of what a driver will do but won't accept the idea of one mandatory piece of safety equipment. What does the public think of the driver who doesn't wear their seat belt ?
@21: London's bike share is 90 pounds a year, much more expensive than Seattle's.

@29: Boston is $6 for 24 hours and $12 for 72 hours. I wouldn't call $2/$4 more "unusually expensive".
@31: They have no such plan. The only precedent for helmet-obligatory bikeshare is failure.

The simple truth is that helmets do their only incontrovertibly effective work in protecting against over-the-handlebars injury. Such incidents are made virtually impossible by upright bikes of the sort that bikeshares employ. Really.

The attempt to construe helmets as more universally effective and necessary in all riding circumstances -- an effort with a long, unfortunate history in the institutions of Washington State -- are, quite simply, total fucking lies.
@32: I would call that "unusually expensive", if you intend to do it more than very, very occasionally.

Invariably, one will make an internal average-trip-cost calculation based upon the expected number of trips to be made in the 24- or 72-hour period. One will then evaluate the ease of those trips against comparable bus or walking options. (It would be exceedingly hard to spend more than $8 on Metro in a day.)

$2-$4 absolutely makes a difference.

CitiBike (NYC)'s unsustainable finances have been tied, by the way, to unexpectedly high usage by annual members and unexpectedly low rates of short-term purchase.
The CyclePronto website says that the "Timer resets whenever you dock a bike."

I heard from their brand ambassadors that one must leave a bike docked for 5 minutes for the timer to reset.

Your overage fees may vary.
You know the SPD is basically on strike now, right? They show up for shootings and stabbings. That's it. When was the last time anybody you know got a ticket for not wearing a helmet?

It used to be the only ones you'd see without helmets were those rangy old guys who you assume took up bicycling when they got one too many DUIs. Now you see whole families biking around town without helmets. You see teens and pre-teens riding down the street without helmets. It's not like it was a few years ago when the King County helmet law was enforced.

It's your head. Do what you want with it. Ride with no helmet if you like (and you're a dumbass). But don't let the helmet law enter into it. There's no actual helmet law in force. It's a paper tiger.
@32 That's interesting that the annual fee is cheaper here even as the single use is much more expensive than London. I maintain that making single use cheaper is the key to making this a system that people will actually use.
@36: The public perception of casual, low-speed, helmetless riding is definitely evolving.

The SPD is definitely not:…
@35, the bottom of that same page you quote from says "Once a bike is docked, you must wait 3 minutes before you may take out another bike." Seems clear enough, but they should move it up to where you saw your quote.
@34: if you use it more than occasionally, it might be smart to buy an annual membership.

@36: I was cited for not signaling on my bike by an SPD cop last month. Officer David Ogard is most definitely not on strike (though he doesn't know the law).
And as for helmets, law aside it's a question of risk-reward for most of us. The link provided @33 is interesting. I wonder if there's been any debunking of the big study by New York City (where helmets are required only for working cyclists and kids under 14): “ Bicyclist Fatalities and Serious Injuries in New York City 1996-2005,” available as a PDF at…. Its data presentation seems pretty straightforward.

Deaths, p. 16:
Among the fatalities with documented helmet use, 97% of the bicyclists were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Only 4 bicyclists who died (3%) were wearing a helmet. All child or teen bicyclists who died were not wearing helmets. Helmet usage is required by law for all children under 14 in New York.

Serious injuries, p. 27:
Among serious injury crashes for which helmet use was documented, 87% of bicyclists were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash; 13% were wearing a helmet. While interpretation is hampered by missing data, the lower level of helmet use in fatal crashes (3% vs. 13%) suggests that not wearing a helmet may be particularly dangerous.
Hurry up, we only have a half hour to take our bikes to the punk club. I don't want to miss opening band Deathkunt.
Please, let's get the helmet law repealed for adults. This should be a matter of personal choice, and it really stands to be a huge drag on the success of bike share here in Seattle. Slow speed cycling, which is all that can be done on a bike share bike anyway, is not inherently dangerous. Better to have more people on bikes helping to keep everyone (other cyclists and drivers alike) slow and aware.

Regardless, I'm so excited to see bike share coming to this city. I've used it in other cities and it's a great way to make short trips without the inconvenience of a bus or the cost of a car. I'll sign up for an annual membership the moment bikes appear in Ballard or Fremont. I rarely get to the neighborhoods it exists in now, so I'll be an enthusiastic supporter in the meantime.
I think it's very good to get it launched. I just hope they can tweak things to make it more appealing for short term users and so the overage fees make more sense.

For casual users, I really wonder what would be wrong with $4/hour. Bill it down to the minute, no overages, no confusing minimums. Charge people $96/day if they don't bring the bike back.
@41: Hasn't Seattle had multiple fatalities in which the victim was wearing a helmet, just in the past few months?

My guess is that our clue to methodological faults may appear in your second quote: "Among serious injury crashes for which helmet use was documented...." As Al Dimond describes here, pro-equipment bias is so strong among medical professionals that I wouldn't put it past them to only "document" helmet presence or absence in situations where absence was conspicuous.

But deconstructing that document is unnecessarily pedantic, when there is an abundance of accumulating evidence that riders of slow-speed, low-gravity-center upright bikes in general -- and of bikeshare rentals in particular -- find it basically impossible to get themselves in a "serious injury crash" situation in the first place!

There have been vanishingly few serious accidents involving bikeshare users anywhere, and the number of fatal accidents worldwide in the last decade can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
@44: $4 an hour would be a very cheap bike rental, and people would be grabbing bikes for several hours at a time if it were that cheap. This is not a bike rental system, it's bike sharing. A model such as this one requires rapid turnover, hence the 30-minute maximum.
@34: "It would be exceedingly hard to spend more than $8 on Metro in a day."

Head downtown during morning rush hour = $2.50
Use a bus to meet up with a friend for lunch = $2.25
Head home during evening rush hour = $2.50

That's $7.25 right there. It wouldn't be "exceedingly hard" to spend more than $8.00 in a day of bus traveling.
btw, the Pronto locations (along with info on number of bikes at each station) also appear in the Transit app (for Android, don't know if there's an iOS version). You don't have to use Spotcycle to get that info (although Spotcycle does offer more bells and whistles - pun not intended).
@47: With 2-hour transfer windows each time (and with the transfer actually resetting under certain conditions), it is in fact exceedingly rare that any one in-city bus rider spends more than $6.75 on a weekend or $7.25 on a weekday. Unless that person does literally nothing but ride around all day.

Similarly, we are presuming that a bikeshare renter is assessing value on the basis of an estimated number of here-and-there trips, and is no more expecting to be in motion for 18 straight hours than our hypothetical bus rider.
interesting idea, but i don't like thinking about people who are in a hurry and trying to get back to the station before their 30 mins expires.
There is no getting "back", @50. One-way trips. Drop-off as soon as you arrive. Car2go, not Zipcar. Taxi, not rental.

I've used bikeshares extensively elsewhere, and it would tend to take a heroic effort, or a trip from one extreme of the coverage area to the other, to rub up against the point at which even the first (nominal, non- punitive) overage kicks in. Even on designed-as-slow bikes. Urban trips just aren't that far.

I really cannot understand the criticisms from those who haven't bothered to do 5 seconds of research on the bikeshare model and why it has proven effective and safe in literally hundreds of cities worldwide.

And I have been one of the most unrelenting critics of the Pronto rollout. If Seattle bikeshare fails, it will be because of the third-rail helmet law, and/or because the ridiculous, gerrymandered debut coverage area fails to prove useful to a critical mass of potential users. These weaknesses could be exacerbated by higher-than-standard fees and the future mandatory helmet surcharge.

These are serious problems. The well-vetted 30-minute rental window is not. The biking skills of "novice" (read: careful) riders are not. The shit that works unequivocally elsewhere will not magically become a problem here.
The helmet thing is really going to be a barrier - if helmets aren't going missing, they're getting lice, or getting used in some non-prescribed manner and won't be usable.

Once the free helmets run out, it'll be difficult to make the "real money" off of tourists ($85/year/person is probably a break-even at best number - and way to cheap)
They should have a "buy new" price for an out of the box helmet for the richer tourists and prissy types. They can still return them and recycle them back into the program, voila. Why all the helmet hate? Everybody knows a bicycle head-injury story. Why chance it? Even if it only helps a little bit under certain conditions.
No ones mentioned limited drop off space. 30 mins to get to your next point is great, assuming you have a free spot. If not, what's your options? I think you either have to hold onto the bike or try make it over to the next drop off, and then walk back to where you needed to be.
@54: Everyone knows a choking-on-a-gummy-bear story. Why chance it? Comprehensive first-aid certification before being allowed to buy gummy bears!

p.s. Also, confirmation bias. It would be mathematically impossible for every anecdotal tale of "a helmet saved me" to actually be attributable to the helmet.

p.p.s. Once again, helmet-ameliorated accident circumstances on upright bikes are almost physically impossible to get into. There have been near-zero serious bikeshare injuries worldwide. Also, there have been near-zero serious bikeshare injuries worldwide. Furthermore, there have been near-zero serious bikeshare injuries worldwide.

That's "why chance it".
I was just doubtful before because of our hills, weather and the helmet law. Now? What a fucking scam. The fee structure is designed to confuse and gouge.

Mark my words unless there are drastic changes this will be in place less than three years and aside from a tiny number die-hards and tourists will fail miserably

All that money could've gone to keeping Metro running. Jeebus. People in Seattle are gullible idiots.
Holy shit. If Pronto fails, it will be because of the helmet law and the chosen coverage area, and only because of the helmet law and the chosen coverage area.

Not because of the hills. Not because of the drivers. Not because of the short-term-usage fee structure that is designed such that essentially no one pays overages ever.

My fucking god, Seattle. Would it kill you to do an ounce of research before opining?
I'm way late to this, but as a resident of one of the first US cities to get one of these systems (Washington, DC), I feel like I should clear some things up. The entire pricing structure is about creating incentives to maximize utility of the system. In particular, the escalating fees encourage users to take short trips, and to check their bikes in while doing errands rather than keeping them for a whole round trip, because the system makes the best use of a limited number of bikes by keeping as many of them available for rental at any given time as possible. Not being able to use the service because there are no bikes at your station is super frustrating, so they try to minimize that by encouraging people to return them promptly. This works pretty well.

The $8 per day is a price intended pretty much exclusively for tourists, at least in the DC system. Locals who use the system pretty much all opt for an annual pass. This means, effectively, that tourists (who are generally willing to spend more than commuters) subsidize the system and keep prices low for locals; it's basically a tourist head tax. Again, it works great.
@55: The app shows available spots.
Uber is cheaper. Taxis are cheaper. The bus is cheaper. I don't see this as being a great use of tax dollars.
This is bikes as transit, not recreation. A half-hour should get you from place to place.

There should be stations at big-crowd destinations like stadiums. (Probably need more stations for the Seattle Center.) It would make a lot of sense to have many riders go to an event on bikes, and have bikes there when they get out. (Presumably not too many bikes would be picked up at a stadium mid-game, but Seattle Center might need replenishing.)

But yeah, bring your own helmet. Yick. They should at least have a liner-dispenser at the helmet bin.
Do you know what's cheaper than the bike share service that's losing money? A bike:…
@52- The caps lock is a good start, but you're being niggardly with your emphasis by failing to bold and italics your comment.
@60 Thanks Doug, also it looks like you get a free 15 mins extra if there are no spots.
I saw three tourists riding Pronto down near the waterfront yesterday, helmet-less as a newborn baby. I don't think it will be a barrier - I'll believe an SPD crackdown on bike infractions when I see it.
@53 @62 The helmets are sterilized after every use, sealed in plastic after cleaning, tracked, and only used 10 times before they're recycled. That information is available on the station graphics AND the website AND almost every article that has talked about Pronto since the brand was launched this spring because people can't stop whining about the helmets.

here's the Pronto FAQ:

read it, use a bike, then if you still have something to whine about I'm sure Pronto would welcome constructive feedback:
@22- Now all you have to do is get to fucking Silverdale to get the bike and then give it a new chain (you can see the rust in the photo, very bad sign) and probably new brake pads, maybe new cables, and hopefully you don't need to service the rear hub (they're pretty durable, but it's a heck of chore if it needs done.) Then you need to store and service the bike yourself for ever after.

There was an intensive crackdown just a few weeks ago, @66:…

It included yet another broad misrepresentation of helmets as "health", as well as a host of willful misstatements of the law as it relates to riding bicycles on city streets. Multiple citations for perfectly legal activities have been reported.
@63: I have two bikes and a Pronto membership. Bike ownership and bike sharing are not mutually exclusive. Same with car sharing.
@68 Totally agree that upkeep is a large barrier to entry so the 'just get your own' crowd's argument seems a little bad faith.
@64 "Niggardly" is totally the worse word to use. But SHAKESPEARE used it not convincing since, you know, Shylock and such.
@70 car sharing doesn't require tax dollars to pay for it.
@63: I have a bike. But I sure don't want to bring it to work on the bus every day, in case I want to take a quick trip to Pioneer Square for lunch, or downtown for a meeting. Is that so hard to understand?
@67 Even a cut-rate helmet, when used just ten times - still costs about a dollar per ride. If you want to go even more cut-rate (instead of $10/piece at walmart) you can order about 10,000 from China at a final price of about $2/piece. So that's $0.20 per ride.

But some more quick math - I'm going to assume the target is 3 rides per bike per day (one half of the ridership per bike in NYC - a system with 12 times more bikes), that's 1,500 restockings per day. Per the FAQ, a person at the station does this, not a machine. So suddenly you've got to staff up 50 stations for 12 hours a day 7 days a week, at $15/hour.

That's an additional $63,000/week in costs to support 10,500 projected rides (note, I invented that projection, but it's pretty reasonable). Another $6 per ride.

So now we're at $6.20 per ride in direct costs - this does not include labor overhead (probably at least 50%); cost of cleaning/sterilizing equipment; cost of bike maintenance and the bikes themselves, etc. We're looking at a cost of may $12/ride in general. So already, anyone who buys an annual membership and rides 7 times or more per year is a cost sink; someone with a 3-day pass who rides twice loses money, and even a single-ride costs money.

And half of that is the fucking helmets

OK, but you might say, hey, $2.25 or whatever you pay for Metro now doesn't capture the cost of the ride - you're right. Currently they're playing a 3-card monte/shell game to stave off drastic service cuts.

Additionally - tax dollars (at least in the traditional sense) are not supporting ProntoCycle. This means that the bottom line matters in a way it does not for traditional transit. NYC bike share - the most well-subscribed, well-ridden system in the world, which doesn't have a helmet requirement and has a larger economy of scale - is considered to be "ailing" financially.

So there it is - if bikeshare is going to be successful, 1) it needs to be priced much more rationally - ~$100/year is significantly too low 2) it needs to publicly funded with guaranteed revenue streams outside of operations 3) it can't offer free helmets for use.

Seems like The Stranger is misinformed about the current stations located south of Downtown. Pronto stations are located as far south as Chinatown (Jackson & 2nd EXT. and 6th & King), and in Pioneer Square (Occ. Park). Not quite Yesler Terrace or Little Saigon, but close enough not to dissuade folks in the south from using (and enjoying!) Pronto rides - Especially when you can make it to a Downtown docking point within the 30 minute limit using the 2nd Ave. cyclotrack, and don't get stuck waiting for your cut Metro bus that will make 15 time-wasting stops on the way up 3rd.
@72: What tax dollars are going to bike share in Seattle?

@74: The helmets are only free right now because the vending machines aren't ready.
@76, you think that WS DOT gets grant money from magic faeries ?…
The Seattle Department of Transportation, King County, and a group of other stakeholders—under the umbrella of the Bike Share Partnership—started studying back in 2011 what it would take to bring a bike-share program to Seattle, and things progressed from there. Led by the nonprofit Puget Sound Bike Share, Seattle has been actively working toward a 2014 launch since at least 2012, when the Washington State Department of Transportation awarded King County a $750,000 grant for the purchase and installation of bike-share stations in the U District.
@71- There's nothing wrong with niggardly or niggling. There's something wrong with people who can't figure out the difference between words that sound mostly the same. If I tell you to shut to door, do you think I'm telling you to feces it? That is on the same level as being upset by niggardly or niggling.
Oh, 4.4 mil with 1 mil from the feds and 0.75 mil from WSDOT... I hope you enjoy the bikes, but it's not Alaska Airlines' CEO who is funding your "free helmet".…

Holly Houser, executive director, said Thursday new sponsors will soon be announced, and her nonprofit will meet its $4.4 million startup budget. Previously the group has been awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. government, $750,000 from the Washington State Department of Transportation, and $500,000 from Seattle Children’s.
The anti crowd is funny. I almost believed for a second that it wasn't people angry about their cars sharing the road with more bikes.
@80, If I wanted to be crotchety I'd point out $4.4 million ($1.8 million from tax money) for 500 bikes and they've not even implemented the helmet rental they knew from the start would be a King County requirement. It should have a "shape recognition" camera at the rental kiosk that requires the bike share renter show the helmet they are going to use with the bike, to prevent the city/bike rental place from being liable for renting bikes to users without a helmet.
So what happens if I bike I am using or just finished using gets stolen? Am I out $1200?

Does the consistent wet weather of Seattle deteriorate the bikes before their projected lifespan comes around?

Who brings bikes from downhill locations back up to their uphill locations? Seems like their might be shortages on Capital hill / Queen Anne and a lot downtown?

Bike helmet commenters.... These are not slow moving bikes when your biking DOWN any moderate to steep hill, BTW which we have lots of.

Any one who buys a yearly pass is likely to buy their own helmet. For the rest, why hasn't anyone invented highly portable inflatable helmets? The Whoopie cushion my 300lb aunt sits on always takes a big hit without breaking!?

A Devil's advocate who hopes the program succeeds!

@68 - my point was not that the first bike I saw on CL was perfect for you. My point is that you can find inexpensive bikes that work just fine, or would be fine with just a few cheap parts from Bike Works. Bikes aren't hard or expensive to obtain, maintain or store. While I have no problem with Pronto! existing, I think we don't really need a bike share program to get people riding. What we do need is improved infrastructure for the folks that already ride, and better mass transit for those who don't/can't.
Answers for @82:

1) Theft-during-rental does not happen, because there really is no such thing as a stopover. The bike is never not directly beneath your body during the time you are responsible for it. You take it out from a station, you ride it to a different station, you dock it. Your responsibility for it has ended.

Bikeshares are really not designed for use outside of the defined coverage area, which is why the usefulness of the coverage area to a critical mass of customers is so vital to the success of the model. On this point, I have my doubts about Pronto.

2) That's a fair question. The bikes are designed for maximum sturdiness, but I can't help but notice that the systems left in place through snowy and temperature-vacillating East Coast winters seem worse for wear than the ones that aren't.

3) Van-based "system balancing" efforts are crucial to the success of any bikeshare, whether because of hills or because commute patterns would otherwise leave certain docks full and others empty on a regular and often predictable basis. Pronto's acumen and agility in this crucial function have yet to be measured, but a number of cities with prominent hills and wildly successful bikeshares (Paris, Montreal) prove it can be done.

4) Even on the steepest downhill glides, these upright bikes do not engender the kind of forward-leaning momentum-based crash conditions that you fear. The center of gravity is far lower. Sending yourself face-first over the handlebars is still all-but-impossible. They are functionally "slow-speed" bikes even when pointed downwards.

5) Awesome but expensive. And as every bikeshare so far has shown, profoundly unnecessary for this sort of riding.

Again, Pronto will thrive or fail on the basis of what happens with the helmet law and its weird initial coverage area. Otherwise, the bikeshare model has proven sound.
Sweet mother of god. Don't you have copyeditors? There is no such place as "Seattle Central College" (or "Pike Market" or "Pike's Market")! It's called "Seattle Central Community College".
@85- They changed their name to Seattle Central College.
Here in NYC if youre a yearly member of Citibike the time limit per usage is 45 min as opposed to 30 min for single day pass users.
I got myself a year-long pass a couple weeks before it started, and I have surprised myself by how much I am using it. I live a good 15 minute walk to my nearest station, and work right by another. I normally walk to-and-from work (rarely use the bus for my daily commute) and I now have 5 legitimate trips under my belt, including twice up Capitol Hill. It cuts about 10 minutes off my walking commute up hill, and a spectacular 20 minutes off the down-hill commute.

This won't be a money saver for me (since walking is free), but If I only use it a couple times a week (in each direction) it will save me an hour a week, which costs me something under $2. And so far, I have not failed to find either a bike or a parking dock when I needed it.

But I also contend that the helmets are too small, and have had to scrounge out my old one.