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Buses get cut, but bike share is on track: System sponsor list keeps growing

Concept image of bike share in South Lake Union, from a 2013 PSBS presentation
Concept image of bike share in South Lake Union, from a 2013 PSBS presentation

If you’re as bummed as I am about the likely rejection of Prop 1 to save Metro funding, put down that morning beer. There is some good transportation news today.

Puget Sound Bike Share announced today that the list of sponsors continues to grow and now includes an impressive list of companies and organizations in central Seattle: Group Health, Vulcan, REI, Fred Hutchison and Spectrum Development Solutions have joined Seattle Children’s to sponsor docking stations for the initial launch of the Seattle-based public bike system.

As we reported earlier this month, Puget Sound Bike Share will pioneer a new supply chain for Alta Bicycle Share after the bankruptcy of their previous (and undependable) supplier BIXI. The look and name of the Seattle-based system will be announced in May.

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Planned funding model for initial launch
Planned funding model for initial launch, from a 2013 presentation. They are getting closer to completing the pie.

There are still “a limited number of stations” left for sponsors who want to jump on board, according to a PSBS press release. Organizations interested should contact Holly Houser at [email protected].

So why sponsor a bike share station? Well, aside from the unique marketing opportunity, Matt Handley, medical director of Quality for Group Health, sees “numerous reasons” sponsoring stations makes sense:

[A]s a large health provider that draws thousands of people to Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle and South Lake Union, our support of the Puget Sound Bike Share stations is one way Group Health can help put fewer cars on the road at any given time. This has health, environmental and economic benefits for the entire community and contributes to our Commute Trip Reduction efforts.

Also, with 17 percent bus cuts heading our way, I bet there are going to be a lot of folks looking for other ways to get around.

From PSBS:

Local non-profit health care provider Group Health has announced its support of bike share docking stations for Seattle’s upcoming bike share network, signing up to sponsor 15 stations in Capitol Hill and South Lake Union.  Group Health has thousands of employees who work at four facilities – Capitol Hill Campus, Downtown Seattle Medical Center, Group Health Research Institute, and their headquarter offices – between the Capitol Hill and South Lake Union neighborhoods.

Additional local companies, including Vulcan, REI, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Spectrum Development Solutions and others have also signed up to sponsor bike share stations.

The first phase of Seattle’s bike share network will include 50 bike docking stations and 500 bikes spread across South Lake Union, Downtown, Capitol Hill and the University District.

“Lending our support for these bike stations makes sense for numerous reasons,” said Matt Handley, MD, medical director of Quality for Group Health and an avid cyclist. “Not only does Group Health have a long history of supporting health and wellness – including through community programs and sponsorships – but as a large health provider that draws thousands of people to Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle and South Lake Union, our support of the Puget Sound Bike Share stations is one way Group Health can help put fewer cars on the road at any given time. This has health, environmental and economic benefits for the entire community and contributes to our Commute Trip Reduction efforts.”

Bike share stations are one of the easiest and most visible ways for local companies to support bike share. “Station sponsorships meaningfully enhance people’s ability to access bikes for alternative transportation and healthy activity,” said Holly Houser, executive director of Puget Sound Bike Share. “Station sponsorships have also become very popular among employers, developers and nonprofits that see bike share as a valuable benefit to employees, tenants and customers.”

Bike stations are free-standing and battery powered (with solar backup), and will be sited in the public right-of-way, parks, plazas and on private property. All station locations must be approved in advance by the City of Seattle to ensure the location complies with regulatory standards. Station sponsors will receive naming rights to the station(s) of their choice as well as discounted memberships and recognition for their support in program materials. Puget Sound Bike Share still has a limited number of stations still available for sponsorship.  For more information, contact Holly Houser at [email protected].

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17 responses to “Buses get cut, but bike share is on track: System sponsor list keeps growing”

  1. Matt

    Battery powered with … solar backup?

    1. Allen

      If you’re asking about using solar power with the cloudiness here, London’s bike share also uses stations with solar power, and as far as I can tell they work just fine. Compared to London, Seattle is practically in the Sun Belt.

      1. Jayne

        The parking meter machine things all over town are solar powered, or at least solar backupped, and they seem to work ok most of the time too.

      2. jay

        I think he’s asking who edits that stuff, it should be;
        “solar powered with battery backup [during hours of darkness]”

  2. Gary

    With bus service cuts not due until September it will be interesting to see if there is an uptick in a) driving, b) walking c) bicycling or just a drop in bus ridership as in those trips were in some way optional and now folks are just doing without that trip.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I especially wonder about increases in people biking to the bus. Since a lot of the cuts will lead to reroutes to major trunk lines, people who used to have a one-seat ride might now find that biking straight the trunk line is faster and easier than transferring. That’s definitely how I first started using the bike/bus combo: skip the local bus and go straight to the express.

      1. Kara Sweidel

        This will be interesting given the small number of bikes that can be put on a bus. The other night, I had my first experience with too many bikes per bus. I was one of the people already on the bus with my bike downtown, heading to Fremont… 2 racks taken, and we get to a stop with 2 people, 2 bikes. One person got on, the other person said he would meet her at the Fred Meyer in Ballard and rode away. A couple stops later, another guy with a bike… he has the bus wait a bit so he can lock his bike up to the bus stop sign and he gets on sans bike. Right across the Fremont bridge (my stop), there was another guy with a bike waiting to board. He looked totally dejected until I hopped off and told him he could have my bike spot. So with fewer buses and already not enough bike racks per bus, what is this going to look like for people taking combo trips?

      2. Tom Fucoloro

        You’re right, Kara. That’s a very frustrating problem.

        For trips into the center city, I think a more scalable solution is to bike to the trunk line bus and lock your bike there. Then if you need to bike around the city center, you can use bike share. But if you are headed anywhere out of the city center, putting your bike on the bus will continue to have serious crunch issues. I doubt they will be able to fit more than three bikes on a bus, and bike share is not likely to expand to every area (density is key in making bike share pencil out), so I’m not sure what the solution is there.

      3. Tom Fucoloro

        Well, other than folding bikes of course. You can bring those on with you if you fold them up first. But not everyone is going to have a folding bike, so not a complete solution (but it could work for you if full bike racks become a serious issue).

      4. Andres Salomon

        Perhaps folding bikes will become more popular?

      5. Andres Salomon

        Man, jinx.

      6. jay

        I wonder if the guy on the bike got to Fred Myer before his companion?

        Personally I don’t see the attraction of putting a bike on a bus. I bought a bike to avoid riding the bus. Ok, I’m a hypocrite, I do put my bike on a ferry twice a day, when I “could” just ride around, but I’m a wimp and 60 miles each way is just a bit too much. On the other hand, just how many Metro routes are anywhere near 60 miles? I would totally bike before bussing for the 9.4 miles the Federal Highway Administration said was the average bus commute (that was in 2010, but it was the first average I found https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/2010cpr/execsum.htm )

        But for those who don’t mind the bus, one could get a mid-range Bromton for about the price of only about 20 years of bike share membership, actually, 20 years sounds like a lot, but still…(and the Bromton could still be around in 20 years, not so sure about the other) Or compare it to the price of riding Metro for just a couple of years.

        Are those street car tracks in the “concept image” of a bike share station? Rail tracks, rain and occasional, perhaps inexperienced, riders, what could go wrong?

      7. Andres Salomon

        It depends a lot. I’d rather bike to/through UDistrict than take a slow slow bus. On the other hand, going downtown on an express bus that takes the highway is much faster than taking the bus. So in that regard, I’d rather bike to where the bus gets on the highway, hop on the bus there, get off where the bus exits the highway, and then bike to my destination.

        My wife has little choice about putting her (folding) bike on the bus in order to get across the 520 bridge.

      8. Josh

        I suspect many more people would be willing to ride to the bus if bike parking were as safe and convenient as car parking. But at many bus stops, there’s no covered parking, no secure parking, maybe not even a decent bike rack to chain up a klunker. It’s one thing to bike a mile to the bus, quite another to spend the workday wondering if your evening commute will include a mile hike home and buying a replacement bike.

  3. They could develop a folding bike specific holding location in the bus somehow. Maybe a good stacking system that would allow people to put multiple bikes above each other? The Bart and CalTrain in SF have great bike systems that may be insight on how we can modify those approaches to work with buses.

  4. […] bikes. But it isn’t just Alaska that has stepped up to get this bike share off the ground. Many other companies in the Puget Sound have put their money where their people are. We think this […]

  5. […] Bike month approaches: We already know that Seattle loves bikes, but lots of good things are on the horizon (besides bike month). Two concepts for the Westlake Cycle Track are currently being evaluated by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). Tom over at the Seattle Bike Blog gives us the skinny on the concepts, and argues that Concept B is probably superior, but does have some downsides that would hopefully be addressed in a revised hybrid. In other cycling news, the Puget Sound Bike Share has announced that Group Health Cooperative will sponsor 15 bike stations with many other sponsors joining the cause. […]

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