Seattle had high hopes and expectations for their bike share program when it launched in 2014. The ball was basically in their court: they have an extremely active cycling community, they have a strong bike infrastructure that is getting stronger, and they have an ever increasing traffic congestion problem. So what happened to Pronto?
Well, a few things. But the most critical perhaps is the bike helmet law. We are not condemning bike helmet laws by any means, we think it is incredibly crucial for communities to encourage safe cycling practices and bicyclist should wear a helmet without needing it to be a law. However, it's worth considering that bike infrastructure is immensely more protective for bike riders than helmets. Perhaps instead of enforcing bike laws, they should be advocating for bike infrastructure and road sharing policies. As Seattle Times and industry experts point out, about 1,000 cities have bike share programs, and fewer than 5 of those also have helmet laws.
A helmet law could have a reasonably negative effect on a new bike share program. Although they offered rental helmets as a solution, it's understandable why tourists and commuters alike find this cumbersome.
When the city began to admit defeat and move forward, there were rumblings about introducing an electric bike program. Which would be quite impressive. The idea of a city bike share utilizing pedal assist bikes seems like it would be a better fit than regular bikes for a number of reasons.
For commuters, it offers a quick and sweat free way to get to and from work without the stress of worry about bike theft. And for the tourists who aren't used to the hills of the city would welcome the assist when climbing. Perhaps the hope would be that those new to electric bikes would see the beauty of a pedal assist and ultimately bring their experiences home with them.
While this program did not work out for Seattle this time around, there's hope that with some adjustments to their laws, they could one day be home to an electric bike share program.
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