Nothing costs a dollar anymore.
But that’s all it costs to ride one of those bright orange or lime green bikes popping up on sidewalks and bike racks around Seattle.
See our new Seattle Bike Share Guide for questions about how to get started and where to park. We will keep that page updated going forward as rules or services change (you can find a link in the navigation bar above).
Spin (the orange ones) are already distributing their bikes around the city and have activated their app. The company has called a press conference at City Hall at 10 a.m. Seattle Bike Blog will be there, so stay tuned for updates.
LimeBike has also said it is ready to launch and confirmed Monday morning that they received their permit. UPDATE: LimeBike is rolling their bikes out this week, with a few in circulation as of Monday afternoon. They hope to be up to 500 by the end of the week.
The companies are allowed to have 500 bikes for the first month, 1,000 the second month, 2,000 the third month, then the cap is lifted. See our previous post for more details on the city’s pilot permit. The pilot will run for six months, giving the city time to see how things go and develop permanent rules.
Spin sent out a press release announcing the start of service and said they hope to ultimately have 10,000 bikes in service in Seattle:
Spin, the leading stationless bikeshare company in North America, today announced it is the first company to obtain a stationless bikeshare permit from the City of Seattle and is officially launching a city-sanctioned bikeshare fleet. Starting today, 500 of Spin’s orange-colored, GPS-enabled, self-locking smart bikes will be distributed across the city to provide an innovative, equitable mode of transportation for the people of Seattle. Unlike traditional bikeshare systems, Spin’s technology requires no fixed racks and allows bikes to be parked anywhere legal and responsible.
Following the company’s $8M Series A funding round in May, just months after the company’s founding, Spin’s Seattle launch continues the company’s rapid growth trajectory and marks an important milestone for stationless bikeshare in the United States, as the model gains traction around the world. Spin is planning launches in several major U.S. cities this quarter, including San Francisco and New York.
“We could not be more thrilled to launch in Seattle,” said Spin co-founder and CEO Derrick Ko. “Our policy team paved the way for the nation’s largest city-sanctioned stationless bikeshare program by leading industry discussions and working closely with the Seattle Department of Transportation every step of the way. Together, we brought bikeshare back to Seattle residents with an affordable, equitable system that won’t cost the city a penny.”
Spin will scale up its Seattle operations over the next four months with the goal of ultimately deploying more than 10,000 bikes across the city’s many neighborhoods. Spinplans to hire a local team of up to 20 in marketing and operations to ensure high service standards during this expansion.
“Spin’s launch in Seattle is a breakthrough precedent and proves that North American cities are excited to work with stationless bikeshare companies,” said Euwyn Poon, Spinco-founder and president. “The support we have received from Seattle residents has been overwhelming, and we have assembled a world-class team of business, policy, and engineering talent who believe strongly in our mission to continue our rapid expansion.”
UPDATE: SDOT has confirmed that the permits are approved.
We gave Spin a test ride from Capitol Hill to their City Hall press event. It was smooth riding.
At least as of now, Spin is giving new users $10 in credit when they sign up. That’s five hours of free biking.
Spin is not enforcing any kind of service area at the moment. So you can bike to any Seattle neighborhood (though not all neighborhoods will have bikes until someone rides there). The company will follow the data and let users demonstrate demand for areas. So if you want bike share where you live, catch a bus downtown and bike one back.
The company plans to grow from their current 500 bikes as city permits allow. So in a couple months, they should be up to 2,000 bikes. They say their ultimate goal is to reach 10,000 bikes across every Seattle neighborhood.
Cathy Tuttle, the outgoing Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, said she hopes these new services change Seattle’s “safety equation”:
- My hope is the thousands of new Spin and LimeBikes riders will encourage people driving to become more aware and respectful of people on bikes.
- I also hope SDOT will quickly build out a fully protected #BasicBikeNetwork downtown and a linked safe network throughout Seattle.
- Most of all, I hope thousands of people will discover the joy of riding a bike for everyday transportation.
UDPATE: LimeBike is also launching this week, though they are rolling out a bit more gradually than Spin. Like Spin, they also plan to get to 500 bikes during the first month. The company is hosting a series of test ride events all week:
- Monday, 7/17, 11AM-1PMSouth Lake Union (426 Terry Ave. N.)
- Tuesday, 7/18, 11AM-1PMWest Lake Station (4th & Pine)
- Wednesday, 7/19, 11AM- 12PMSouth Lake Union (426 Terry Ave. N.)
- Thursday, 7/20, 5PM-8PMGasworks Park (Fremont)
- Friday, 7/21, 12PM-7PMSeattle Center, 2nd Ave N and August Wilson Way (between fountain and Key Arena)
- Saturday,7/22, 12PM-7PMSeattle Center, 2nd Ave N and August Wilson Way (between fountain and Key Arena)
- Sunday, 7/23, 11AM-3PMFremont Market11AM-3PM (west end)
UDPATE: There are some LimeBikes in circulation as of Monday afternoon. The company will keep adding bikes and hope to have 500 on the streets by the end of the week.
LimeBike also offers new users a free ride, but you have to pony up a buck for rides after that.
UPDATE: After riding both Spin and LimeBike today, I am simply ecstatic about the promise of these companies. Biking around, I already passed a lot of people taking Spin bikes. Anecdotally, I don’t know if Pronto ever got this kind of use. But, of course, it could be due to the novelty on opening day. Only time will tell, and I look forward to getting ride data so we can compare.
But being able to bike to your destination is a game-changer for bike share. It may be smart phone based, but I used my phone less for these bikes than I ever did for Pronto because I was always checking my phone to figure out where the closest station was. With Spin and LimeBike, you just go to where you’re going, then find a good spot nearby to lock it. I locked my LimeBike and walked away, and within seconds I heard someone yell, “Hey look, a LimeBike!” And like that it was gone.
Within a day or two, there will be more bike share bikes on Seattle streets than Pronto ever had after two and a half years of operations. By the end of the week, there will be twice as many bikes as Pronto. Next month, assuming things go well, there may be four times as many bikes as Pronto. My mid-September, there could be eight times as many bikes as Pronto. After that, who knows?
Today was the start of something very big for Seattle transportation.
Spin says they hope to go to 10,000 bikes eventually. Colin McMahon of LimeBike says 10,000 sounds like “a reasonable number,” but that the company does not yet know what number of bikes will work best for Seattle.
“We’ll keep adding bikes so long as people keep riding them,” he said, noting that other cities have found that ridership per bike increases the more bikes there are. That’s because the more bikes there are, the more you can depend on one being nearby when you need one.
LimeBike already has two dozen people on staff working on bikes and walking around doing marketing to help people learn how it works.