Mayor Ed Murray has scrapped his bike share expansion plan, ending the city’s efforts to create a new public e-assist bike system to replace the doomed Pronto system set to shut down March 31.
This officially ends a frustrating era for bike sharing in Seattle, making the city one of very few in the world where a modern public bike system has failed.
Some of the $5 million currently allocated for bike share expansion will go to decommissioning the current Pronto system and in case the city needs to pay back any grant money. In the meantime, the city will try to sell the equipment, which still functions very well, to recoup costs.
About $3 million of the funds will go to Safe Routes to School and other 2017 biking and walking projects in the downtown area, including bike lanes on 4th Ave, planning for bike lanes on Pike and/or Pine, and accessible curb cuts in Pioneer Square.
Mayor Murray scrapped the bike share expansion plan before it ever went in front the City Council for approval. In an election year, perhaps the Mayor didn’t want this hanging over his campaign. But now he has a failure on his hands, which may not be much better.
“While I remain optimistic about the future of bike share in Seattle,” Murray said in a press release (see in full below), “today we are focusing on a set of existing projects that will help build a safe, world-class bicycle and pedestrian network.”
Rather than rehash how we got here (read up in this previous post), I’ll just reiterate that it didn’t need to fail like this. The idea of a system of public bikes that anyone can use to expand access to express transit service and fill gaps in the existing transportation system is still sound. Increasing people’s access to a working bicycle (one of the major barriers to cycling) is still a very worthy goal. Continue reading