Dockless Bike-Sharing Companies Launch In Seattle

Jul 17, 2017

Seattlites looking to bike around the city can now try out two stationless bike-sharing apps.

San Francisco-based Spin began rolling out 500 bicycles Monday. LimeBike, also based in the Bay Area, is beginning to roll out its bikes in Seattle this week.

The companies have been eyeing Seattle since Mayor Ed Murray killed the Pronto bike-share program in January. 

The mayor said Pronto didn't have the ridership to justify support from the city. Some riders complained the system was too expensive and didn't have enough docks.

Troy Davis was one of those riders. He has been waiting for the new companies to launch.

Davis rode an orange Spin bike from Capitol Hill to City Hall, where the company was hosting a launch event Monday morning. He said he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the bike and how inexpensive the ride was.

"You know, it'll be a month or two before I know for sure, but I think this is over the hump where I think it'll be part of my regular commute," Davis said.

Both Spin and LimeBike are offering free rides for first-time users. After the promotion, rides will cost $1 per 30 minutes. 

The companies use apps to let riders locate bikes near them. The apps also lock and unlock the bikes. Riders can park them anywhere that's legal and responsible when they're done.

King County does have a helmet law. But these companies will not be responsible for providing helmets, so riders will have to bring their own.

The city department of transportation has developed pilot program for these bike-share companies, with a permitting system similar to the one for car-sharing companies like Car2Go. 

The companies also have to agree to share data with the city. That will help the transportation department evaluate how the companies are doing and track who is using the bikes where.

"So when we take the pilot application and turn it into a permanent (program), we can use data to inform how we want to see this system distributed equitably," said department planner Kyle Rowe.

Pronto was funded in part by city dollars. These bike-sharing companies will not receive any city funding and have to pay fees for permits and for any bike cleanup that may occur.