The logic for the locations of Pronto's bike stations is understood. On the surface, it's about servicing the densest neighborhoods in our city. If the program, which launches on October 13, hopes to succeed it needs lots of riders, and lots or riders are in the University District, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and Pioneer Square. This is the first phase. The next one will expand to other, less dense, areas. Who can argue with this?
- Pronto Cycle Share
The problem is the Pronto Cycle Share will begin by providing service to predominately white neighborhoods. Even the Central District, which has been gentrified, is excluded. The south and racially diverse parts of Seattle are completely out of the picture at present. Yet, the thinking behind the bike locations and the planned expansion is not at all racist. How could this happen? Why doesn't innocence reproduce innocence?
The reason why the racial map of Seattle is reproduced by Pronto's seemingly non-racial logic is it's a program that's tied to the logic of the market, and the market automatically, unthinkingly reproduces such maps. One law of capitalism: Money follows money. This law must be seen in the light of recent urban developments. For one, we live in a moment when a good amount of growth in big cities is taking place within core neighborhoods. Indeed, for the first time in forever, suburban growth is being matched or surpassed by this growth. We also live in a time when people of color are more and more moving to the suburbs because the cost of living within the city is now out of their reach. Any private/public partnership is bound to reflect these economic realities, which are often racial because in our society, race and economics are not yet unconnected. The only kind of planning that can break with the automatic effects of the market has to be entirely public. It has to be deaf to the tireless call of money. If Pronto was fully funded by the public, it might have avoided reproducing the racial/economic map of our city.