On Wednesday, Pronto Cycle Share announced at the last minute that they were relocating two stations immediately. Word had been filtering down through various sources that the University of Washington light rail station would be getting a station sometime in August, but not expected was the relocation of a station to near the Westlake Cycletrack.
The grand opening for the Westlake Cycletrack is today, and Pronto has moved a station that was previously tucked away near the center for Wooden Boats adjacent to Lake Union Park to the southern end of the cycletrack at Westlake Ave N and 9th Ave N. But with no stations in Fremont, the only place to drop your bike off north of the Fremont bridge is currently in the U District, so Pronto is likely betting that a lot of users at this station will use their bikes to make only pleasure trips up and down the bike path, much like users do at the higher-use stations near Myrtle Edwards Park on Elliott Bay.
The University of Washington Station move is definitely a bigger deal, with a bikeshare station able to help bridge the distance between points on campus and in the U District and the station tucked away near Montlake. Pronto moved a station to be adjacent to the Denny Way entrances at Capitol Hill Station, but there remains no Pronto station on the same block as any Downtown Link station. The nearest station to UW Station previously was a near the bus stops on NE Pacific St, a 2-3 minute walk that really made the time savings less than ideal. Users can now utilize the pedestrian overpass and head right into campus from the station.
Station shuffling is the best we can hope for until the Seattle City Council approves an expansion of the bikeshare system, after they already allocated $5 million during last year’s budget negotiations. In March, the Council approved using some of that money to purchase the current bikeshare equipment (bikes and stations) from Motivate, the operator, to allow them to continue operations by paying off their debt service. We wrote about the current status of the bid proposal that will allow the Council to choose whether or not Motivate or some other operator will undertake the expansion.
Nicole Freedman, the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) bikeshare director and full-throated Pronto defender during the intense period of public scrutiny around the buyout vote, recently left the department for a job in Massachusetts and it remains to be seen who at the department will take the reins as the go-to bike share person at SDOT. Scott Kubly, SDOT director, previously served as the President of Alta Bike Share, which changed its name to Motivate.