Seattle’s bike share program is moving forward in spite of bankruptcy proceedings by major supplier, Public Bike System Co. According to Holly Houser, Executive Director of Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS), the non-profit is still anticipating a 2014 launch. This is quite a busy time for PSBS as the organization maneuvers essential pieces in to place. Houser took time to discuss progress thus far, but explained that she could not divulge next steps with much in flux.
Seattle’s bike share program became tangible in April, 2013 when PSBS announced its selection of Alta Bicycle Share. With a bicycle sample on display, Houser outlined the general plan for Cascade Bicycle Club. However, this event was preceded by a few years work by SDOT, the University of Washington and the Bike Share Partnership. After a feasibility study was conducted by the UW Bike Share Studio and the report presented, the Bike Share Partnership developed its business plan. Then in the summer of 2012, PSBS was formed.
This past week, Houser explained that PSBS originally planned to use Public Bike System Co. Fortunately, Alta Bike Share has assured its clients of product delivery according to Houser. Recent news including NPR has inquired whether PBSC’s bankruptcy will impact U.S. bike share programs. The NPR consulted Portland’s Elly Blue (Bikenomics). "I just see this as a chance for cities to learn — we can't run our transportation systems like a business...” stated Blue. Houser explained that most bike share planners including PSBS and SDOT have not proceeded with the idea of bike sharing as a money maker. Rather, she asserted, funding will be a 50/50 private/public partnership. Further, she added, “We (bike share proponents) have learned . . . and continue to learn as we go” saying that bike share planners have joined together to develop “best practices.”
Seattle Bike Share, explained Houser, will begin with 50 stations and about 500 bikes concentrated in South Lake Union and Capitol Hill. Locations will primarily use public right-of-way, but there will be some private property use with City guidelines. Among the area participants are Seattle Children’s Hospital which donated half a million dollars for helmets and the University of Washington which has also assisted with funding. UW has been quite involved developing station locations on campus. Both organizations provide board members to PSBS. When asked about regional expansion, Houser explained that at this time there is major interest and commitment by Redmond and Kirkland.
In closing, Houser stated, “We are very excited. Major Announcements will be coming in the next few months.”