Private Bike-Share Companies Eye Seattle After The Death Of Pronto

Jun 2, 2017

Private bike-share companies are looking to Seattle to see if stationless bike-sharing might be a viable alternative to the defunct Pronto system.

Three companies with bases in the Bay Area -- Bluegogo, LimeBike and Spin -- are talking with city officials to coordinate a Seattle launch. 

Pronto started out as a nonprofit with public funds before the city bought it outright. The mayor killed the system earlier this year because not enough people were using it.

"Pronto just was not big enough. It didn't have enough stations. It didn't go enough places," said Tom Fucoloro, an avid cyclist and founder of the Seattle Bike Blog.

Unlike Pronto, these new companies aren't looking for city funding. 

They also wouldn't require any stations where riders would have to pick up and return bikes. Riders would sign up for an app that would show them where the nearest bikes are. They can then ride and park the bike wherever it's legal.

This model is common in other parts of the world. But totally stationless bike-sharing hasn't really taken hold in the U.S.

"Investors think that this is going to be a big deal," Fucoloro said. "It's small yield per ride for them, but it can really change the way people get around the cities."

There are still a lot of questions about how the bikes will be maintained, helmets and whether riders will adhere to safety and parking laws.