Earlier this month, Seattle quietly put the brakes on its bike-share program, Pronto! (with appropriately Jeb! Bush-ian punctuation). The city also canned the idea of an e-bike replacement program.
The program’s failure might seem like something of a surprise: One of the bike-friendliest cities in the U.S. (ranked fifth by Cycling in 2016), Seattle seems a lot like the kind of affluent, outdoorsy place that should embrace bike sharing. Instead, Pronto! will come to an end in March. If bike sharing could successfully spread to 119 U.S. cities since 2008, why couldn’t it work in the Emerald City?
The answer has to do with a series of structural, political, regulatory, and geographical challenges that the city was unable to overcome. George Bernard Shaw once quipped, “The trouble with the media is that it seems unable to distinguish between the end of the world and a bicycle accident.” With that note of editorial caution, we bring to you: the Four Horsemen of the Bike Share Apocalypse.
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