Seattle's troubled bike-share program is about to vanish

The city's bike-share program will end Friday. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Pronto, the city's bike-share program, lasted two and a half years and cost millions of dollars.

And it is about to end. Friday is the last day that you can rent one of the 500 bikes.

"Crews are going to take the bikes out of the stations and move them into storage.," said Kyle Rowe, city of Seattle bike-share manager.

The bikes will sit in a warehouse until Seattle sells them or transfers the grant money associated with the equipment to another city, Rowe said. Spokane and Columbia, South Carolina, have expressed interest.

Seattle had set aside $5 million to expand the program -- to include growing Pronto and add electric bikes. With the program scrapped, that money will pay for safer routes to schools as well as for road and bike-lane improvements.

"Pronto had served almost 300,000 trips in its two years of existence. It has been an affordable transportation option for many of the people in the city and visitors of the city," Rowe said.

Rowe blamed the failure of Pronto on being in only downtown and Capitol Hill and not expanding to other neighborhoods.

But ridership plummeted over the years. The share program that started with more than $2 million in private sponsorship and more than $1 million in state and federal money was bailed out last year by the city to the tune of $1.4 million.

For Seattle residents like Nate Newcomber, the bikes were not just sensible.

"I have a light bike and I don't like heavy bikes."

Bike-share programs have worked in cities like London and New York. But in Seattle there were complaints about the hills, the weather and the traffic.

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