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Pronto finally arrives at UW Station, and it’s great

It took half a year, but bike share has finally arrived at UW Station.

On paper, the station move from the UW Medical Center rotunda (a rather odd location to find if you weren’t in the know) to the plaza outside UW Station might not seem like a huge deal, but it makes combining light rail and bike share far more intuitive and easy.

And with the remade section of the Burke-Gilman Trail now open on UW campus, Campus Parkway and the Ave are just a quick and easy cruise away from light rail and Husky Stadium.

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To highlight one example of a trip made possible by this change, I hopped on a Pronto at 12th and Coiumbia near Seattle University at 2:15 this afternoon and bikes it to Capitol Hill Station entrance at Broadway and Denny.

I arrived at the station at 2:20, but I had poor train timing and had to wait 8 minutes before I was on the way to UW Station.

I got to the new Pronto Station just south of the station entrance at 2:37. I then biked across the Montlake Boulevard overpass and connected to the remade trail en route to the Ave.

At 2:44 I docked the bike at 42nd/the Ave. At 2:47 I was drinking coffee in the parklet in front of Bulldog News.

It had taken me 29 minutes to get from Seattle U to the commercial heart of the U District. But if I had better train timing, the trip could have taken as little as 21 minutes. That’s about 15 minutes faster than taking transit without bike share and 7 minutes faster than biking the whole way (Google estimates).

Got a fun bike share/transit combo you want to share? Let us know in the comments.

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19 responses to “Pronto finally arrives at UW Station, and it’s great”

  1. Taylor Kendall

    NE 40th/520 545X -> SLU Bike-> Maranation in W Seattle on the waterfront : Best time was 42 min but typically about 1 hr. Or you can even pick up a C line in SODO to cut some time off. Google says ~50 min depending on traffic in a car , 1hr 20 transit only or about 2hr by bike .

  2. William

    “On paper, the station move from the UW Medical Center rotunda (a rather odd location to find if you weren’t in the know) to the plaza outside UW Station might not seem like a huge deal, but it makes combining light rail and bike share far more intuitive and easy.”

    Except of course for the ~1000 employees in west end of UW Health Sciences who now have no place to pick up and drop of their bike if they want get to and fro between work and light rail or the rest of the U District.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Yeah, I wish they were adding stations instead of moving them.

    2. asdf2

      The UW Med Center Station was in a very out-of-sight and out-of-the-way location, rendering it absolutely useless to anyone who didn’t work in the building right next to the station.

      The Montlake Triangle Station remains, which still serves the UW Med Center, while also serving the bus stops along Pacific St. and being much more visible and noticeable to the general public.

  3. mike archambault

    Seriously loving the selfie series. Right on, Tom!

    1. Eldan Goldenberg

      I love the expression difference between “Tom on a bike” and “Tom not on a bike”. If anyone ever asks why Tom was the one to start Seattle Bike Blog, these pictures tell the story.

      1. VeloBusDriver

        … and “Tom with coffee”

  4. asdf2

    I’ve done a loop several times, biking across West Seattle and Vashon Island to Point Defiance State Park (with three ferry rides, including the water taxi), biking to the 594 in downtown Tacoma for the trip back. It’s a great ride (about 50 miles total, with plenty of hills). Unfortunately, the very limited bike rack capacity on the buses means I can only do this ride alone, never as part of a group.

    However, I am leading a group ride to Maple Valley in a couple weeks, taking Link to Ranier Beach Station, then riding Ranier Ave. and the Cedar Rider Trail the rest of the way. Interestingly enough, the bus service to Maple Valley is so skeletal and slow that, even riding 18.5 miles on the bike, each way, after the Link trip, we will still get there faster than someone would riding the bus.

  5. Clark in Vancouver

    When I was in Seattle a few months ago I was expecting there to be a bike share station directly outside the light rail station at UW. I didn’t see one and there wasn’t even a sign directing me to where it was. It was a block away, out of sight as where all the buses.
    This makes much more sense to be right there when you leave the station. (Also good for locating the docking station when wanting to catch the light rail.)

    So yeah… bike share and transit go very well together. They need to design them so that it’s convenient and obvious. Places where there isn’t transit but where people collect (malls, big intersections, community centres, etc.) should have bike share stations and from there you can get to transit.
    There should be Pronto stations at intervals all along the Burke Gilman trail even if it’s outside of the usual coverage area.

  6. Merlin Rainwater

    When you’re comparing times to Google Maps estimates, remember that estimated times for driving assume you step out the door into a car and out of the car into the front door of your destination – no time included for parking or walking from parking to destination. In dense areas like Capitol Hill, Downtown and U District, real travel time for cars is seriously underestimated.

    1. Gary

      Also Google maps seems to assume that when you ride a bicycle, you are riding a slug like the Pronto bikes. I regularlly beat their times by 30% or more.

  7. Ray Minor

    This is unbelievable stupid.

  8. Mark smith

    Um, the author must be a complete fan boy. I actually made it a point, as a visitor to downtown, to find a pronto bike at UW and ride down to Pike’s Place market. Easy…right?


    First off, we had to pull up a map on our smart phones as to where the pronto bikes might be hiding. Were they at the station with the other bikes? Nope. That would make entirely too much sense.

    We walked about 1/4 of a mile to the pronto station. At which point, I was prompted no less than 2 times with legalize. Where you helmet yo! (whatever). Oh, here is a 16 page legal form to read, yo! (sure).

    Almost every bike had sticky hand grips..due to a choice of cheap rubber. I have ridden bikes…a lot…and never one so slow. Or should I say, several so slow. The ride was so utterly slow…I had to switch out twice for fear of being penalized for holding a bike over 30 minutes.

    30 minutes!

    I learned after the second change to eyeball the bikes hoping for a bike that was fully functional and not making funny sounds (crank brackets, gears).

    Let’s talk about the helmet.

    They require you to “rent” one. Hmm…I have a larger than 60cm head…so that’s out. Turns out, the helmet fits nicely into the basket. Rode past state patrol cop and a city cop just like that…..they didn’t care.

    The city has done little to point a bike rider towards real bike lanes. Google lists arterial streets as bike ways.

    The one plus side, the waterfront pronto is located under the Alaskan way viaduct across several lanes of traffic…nowhere near the actual waterfront (outside crab pot).

    Bottom line…the bikes are slightly above department store. The stations sometimes are placed ok…sometimes…not so much (UW station). I got the best workout due to bike being 90 pounds and each having a drag coefficient worthy of a semi truck.

    Never, ever…again.

    I ride 2-3 times per week .

    Let’s talk about the price. $8 for 24 hours.


    2 dollars if you keep one of their hotly demanded bikes for more than 30 minutes.

    What the price should be is $2…for 30 minutes and $3 for an hour…and so on.

    One more thing…you can’t lock the bike up..because it has no integrated lock like the Portland Bikes do.

    1. Andres Salomon

      The bikes aren’t meant for a longer ride from UW to downtown. That’s why there’s that time limitation, and the bikes are so heavy/slow. They’re meant for the type of trip that Tom took – a quick 5-10min ride to access other transit. In that scenario, it’s quicker to bike than to drive (due to needing to find parking), it’s quicker to bike than to walk, and it’s easier and safer to use a bike share bike than to lock up your personal bike at the transit stop or take it on transit with you.

      The rest of your post is spot-on, though. Station placement is terrible, the pricing is terrible, and the helmets (and helmet law) are terrible. That’s why the system is failing.

      1. Mark smith

        Wait, longer? That’s interesting. Uw to downtown is a reasonable bike ride. I don’t see how fiddling around the bike station is worth while for 30 min. That’s a lesson in disaster. Bikes are meant to go somewhere. ….not idle around a station.

      2. Ballard Resident

        If a trip is only 5 – 10 minutes by bike then I’d walk before choosing to bike. I’m downtown and never find pronto a convenient option. I’ve used bike share in four other cities while on vacation and those worked well because three out of the four cities had protected bike paths.

        I don’t feel safe riding any bike in downtown Seattle. We need more protected cycle paths!

    2. Tom Fucoloro

      I’m not a fan boy of the system as it is. But I believe it could be great, and this post is meant to highlight ways it can work well. Station placements, the density of stations and the limited service area are all huge problems with Pronto. We’ve written extensively about these problems.

  9. Ron Proctor

    Since Pronto is promoted as part of our transportation system, why not use ORCA cards to pay for the ride? Also it could be a transfer from bus or light rail. I think more commuters would use Pronto as the last link in their commute then.

    1. Mark smith

      Agreed. It was dumb I had to whip out my debit card vs just using my orca. Sure debit to guarantee. Orca to pay.

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