Riding a bike share bike for the first time ever.
Riding a bike share bike for the first time ever. Evanne Hall

It's already known that Seattle Department of Transportation is there first of all for cars. Making the roads and traffic lights (in Southern Africa, they are called robots) better for cars is their main business. Bikes and pedestrians are just a hobby, which is why the first attempt at bike sharing, Pronto, failed miserably. No real heart or passion went into the program, and so it went the way of the wind.

SDOT's new attempt at bike sharing is a pilot program that hands permits to privately-owned bike share companies. It has authorized two companies to operate in Seattle, one of which is Spin, whose bikes and app are very easy to use. You unlock the bike with your phone, go to a place, park the bike next to this place, and lock it. If someone else needs to use this parked bike, they can unlock it, jump on it, and go where they want to go in the city. $1 buys you 30 minutes of the bike's time, and you yourself have to deal with that dumb, anti-bike helmet law. I never tried one of Pronto's convolutedly docked and accessed bikes. But I have taken three trips already on Spin. And because they are dock-less, some of Spin's bikes have reached a place Pronto bikes never once saw, South Seattle. (Six Spin bikes were parked in my neighborhood, Columbia City, this morning.)

But here is the problem: the pilot program only allows the company to operate 500 bikes. Why this limit? I asked SDOT, but got no response. Nothing. Had I called about an erratic robot or some new software that improves traffic flow, I have got their attention right quick. When we consider the history of SDOT, and its deep reverence towards the automobile, it's easy to understand why I got no response. It's consistent with the department's inveterate lack of real interest in all other forms of transportation. And this disinterest is probably behind the arbitrary-looking limit. Bikes and pedestrians are just a distraction from its main body of business.