King County has a very rare all-ages helmet law, which will certainly complicate the launch and daily operations of Pronto Cycle Share in September. But fueled by a grant from Seattle Children’s, they are forging ahead with an ambitious and novel plan to make it work using a streamlined and simple helmet checkout and return solution.
More than 40 cities in the United States have bike share systems, but none have an all-ages helmet law like Seattle. Until this year Dallas had a similar helmet law, but they changed it to apply only to those under 18 to make way for, you guessed it, bike share.
We have suggested several times that the county Health Board should change the helmet regulation to ensure the success of bike share here, which is dependent on people making easy and affordable spontaneous trips. The need to always have a helmet with you or to spend money to check out a helmet for every trip could complicate the system enough to significantly lower usage.
The crux of our argument is that bike share systems have proven to increase safety for all bike users in the cities where they are successful, even though system users have a relatively low helmet use rate. From a public health standpoint, the goal of any rule should be to decrease injuries, especially serious head injuries. Bike share absolutely does increase safety, but the data is inconclusive about whether adult helmet laws do the same. Continue reading
Image from 2013. The planned bike cage is on the right.
Sound Transit is hosting an open house Thursday to discuss updated plans for the North Rainier/Judkins Park East Link Station, the only new Seattle station on the Eastside-bound light rail line scheduled to open in 2023.
Among the vital details for station planning is secure bicycle parking and improved bicycle access for both the Rainier Ave and 23rd Ave entrances.
This section of Rainier Ave is a high-priority street for a street safety and bicycle facility upgrades. The Bicycle Master Plan calls for protected bike lanes on Rainier from MLK to 12th Ave, running right in front of this station entrance. The station should be designed assuming that bicycle use on these lanes will be very high, since it will likely be among the most heavily-used routes between downtown and the southeast neighborhoods.
It also would not be out of the scope of this project for Sound Transit to help Seattle fund bicycle access improvements, like protected bike lanes on 23rd and Rainier and neighborhood greenways connecting to people’s homes. Of course, these improvements should happen well before 2023. Continue reading
Pronto Executive Director Holly Houser took this photo of me trying out the Pronto prototype.
Pronto Cycle Share has a couple prototypes of the 500 public bikes they will put into service around the city center and the U District in September, and I had the chance recently to test one out.
The bike is the product of a new supply chain for Alta Bicycle Share, who used to get bikes through the now-bankrupt Montreal-based company Bixi. The Pronto bikes are made by French bike maker Arcade, but look and function much like bikes in other Alta systems like Citi Bike in New York, Nice Ride in Minneapolis and Capital Bikeshare in DC.
In essence, the Pronto bike has an easy learning curve. You sit upright in a comfortable position, and the seat height is easy to adjust to fit people of many sizes (there are even numbers marked on the seat post so you can easily set it at your preferred height on any bike you get).
The bike has fenders to help keep riders dry and bright front and rear lights that are powered by the bike’s movement and turn on automatically. A chain guard keeps your pant leg from getting caught and ripped and a bungee-cord holds bags and other items of various sizes in a front “basket” (really more like a U-shaped cargo holder). Continue reading
Just in from WSDOT: The state will close the northbound bike lane on Dexter at Harrison Street for eight days starting Monday morning. The crunch is so the state can relocate utilities for the Highway 99 tunnel (that may or may not ever be completed).
Details from WSDOT:
To make room for SR 99 tunnel construction, crews are currently relocating utilities along Dexter Avenue North, and Harrison and Republican streets. As part of this work, a temporary closure of the northbound bicycle lane at Harrison Street is necessary.
· 5 a.m. Monday, July 28 through 5 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5
o The northbound bicycle lane on Dexter Avenue North will be closed for about one block at Harrison Street. Bicyclists will need to merge with vehicle traffic in this area.
Maintaining safety for all modes of transportation is WSDOT’s top priority. Please contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call our hotline (1-888-AWV-LINE) if you have questions, concerns or suggestions.
The Feds are going to help make more of this happen in Seattle
Seattle will officially receive a stack of Federal cash to build protected bike lanes downtown and on Broadway (we reported on the recommendation earlier this month). The city has also received nearly $400,000 to help low-income residents access Pronto bike share (I will write more about this in a future post, so stay tuned).
The total for protected bike lanes downtown comes to $5.8 million for protected bike lanes on 2nd and/or 4th Avenues and 7th Ave. Believe it, Seattle, we’re building protected bike lanes downtown.
As we reported previously, the city is moving ahead with a relatively low-budget pilot protected bike lane on 2nd Ave, which will be ready in time for the September launch of Pronto Cycle Share. These Federal funds will provide the resources to design and (help) build permanent protected bike lanes in the next couple years.
The Feds will also invest in extending the Broadway Streetcar to at least Roy, a project that will also extend the Broadway Bikeway to cover the entire commercial length of Broadway. Continue reading
You won’t find an easier way to raise money for Outdoors For All than this.
The fifth annual Spoke & Food bike-to-dinner fundraiser is Tuesday, and it’s really that simple: Bike to dinner at one of the many participating restaurants around town between 5 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, and they will donate 20 percent of your bill.
More details from the event poster:
It’s (well past) time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some of the stuff floating around the interwebs recently.
First up, it’s a good thing Pronto Cycle Share Executive Director Holly Houser is in a rock band, because I would hate for our bike share system’s theme song to be this bad:
OK, fine, after listening to it again, it’s stuck in my head. You win this one, overly-literal bike-loving K-pop song! ♫ More beautiful town or city with bicycles! ♫ Continue reading