It’s really happening. Today, you can buy a membership for a Seattle public bike share system.
go went on sale at noon (see below for an update). As we reported last week, the first 600 people to register will get a special blue member key to show off their “founding member” status. After the first 600 are sold, you will still be able to buy regular memberships.
But the folks at Pronto have sweetened the pot a bit, and there will be two options for founding members: One costs the same as a regular membership ($85), but comes with a t-shirt and a free 24-hour pass to share with a friend. The other costs $125 and gets you all that plus a Pronto tote and five 24-hour passes to share with friends.
There is no “penalty” for buying your annual membership early since the clock will not start until there are bikes on the street, scheduled for
mid-to-late September (UPDATE: The Pronto site now says October 13).
System members will get a key fob that they can scan at any of the 50 Pronto stations near the city center and in the U District to check out one of 500 hill-climbing, 7-speed bikes. They get unlimited 30-minute rides for the whole year. Since a 24-hour pass will cost $8, the $85 membership is a killer deal.
If you have a bike out for longer than 30 minutes at a time, you will start accruing fees. But if you need more time to get where you’re going, you can always swing by a nearby station and check in to restart the clock. Pronto just wants to know you’re still using it and discourage people from locking it up outside a coffee shop or taking long rides into the sunset.
Memberships will be available for purchase at ProntoCycleShare.com.
Obviously, we will be trying to buy a membership when they go on sale and will update this post when that happens.
UPDATE: After 30 minutes of tech issues and swamped servers, checkout was a breeze:
The site also now has more details on the helmet rental system. Helmet rentals will cost $1.50 for members and $2 for 24-hour and 3-day pass holders. The rentals last 24 hours and do not need to be returned after each ride. If you keep the helmet longer than 24 hours, you will be charged $30 and can keep it.
You can find all kinds of information in the updated FAQ.