Seattle has become the first major US city to shut a public bike share scheme. Was it the helmet law … or the lack of cycle lanes and the notorious hills and rain?
A small group of supporters, journalists and a city councilman gathered at the end of last month to take Seattle’s cycle share bikes out for one last spin. Mayor Ed Murray had pulled the plug on the Pronto system after two-and-a-half years of low ridership, financial troubles and waning political support.
Sitting tall on the clunky, lime green bikes, our group of 10 pedalled through downtown’s heavy evening rush hour traffic, picking up a few more mourners on Pronto bikes en route.
“I’m sad to see it go. I think it’s disappointing that Seattle will be remembered – at least at the moment – for a failed bike share system. But I believe it’ll be back, and hopefully relatively soon,” says Mike O’Brien, the city councillor who joined the memorial ride.
News of Pronto’s closure came in January just a few months after heated budget negotiations led to a plan to spend $5m to fully revamp and expand the system with electric-assist bikes. That plan has been scrapped, making Seattle the only major city in the United States to shutter a bike share system (other than cities with pilot programmes).
Helmet laws stop the serendipity of using the system. People want convenience
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