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May 5, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Alaska Airlines’ $2.5 million helps Seattle bike share take off

Seattle’s first 500 floating-rental bicycles will bear the name of Alaska Airlines, which announced today it will give $2.5 million to Puget Sound Bike Share.

The bikes will be painted green and blue, like the colors of Sounders FC. They will be available at up to 50 stations in the University District, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, South Lake Union, Belltown and Downtown, under the nickname “Pronto!”  Bicycles will have seven gears, for use on the city’s hills, said Executive Director Holly Houser. Seattle will be one of 30 North American cities where such bike shares are available.  Customers can obtain a bicycle from a sidewalk or plaza station, go for a ride, then return the bike at any other station within the service territory — similar to drivers who use Car2Go, except that Pronto! provides day rates for non-members.

Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines, made the announcement, joined by 23 blue-shirted airline employees, at the South Lake Union Discovery Center. “Pronto! bicycles will give folks who live here, and those who are visiting from somewhere else, wheels when they want them,” he said in a statement.

Mayor Ed Murray said: “The question came up in the campaign, ‘What would it be like to have a mayor with connections to business?’ One of the fun things I’ve gotten to do in the last few months is to call businesses and ask them to get in on Puget Sound Bike Share.” Murray said it took one call to recruit Alaska.

However, the city still lacks a clear plan and funding to build protected bike lanes through the congested downtown core before the bike share begins, as backers hoped.  Asked if the city has some interim safety plan, Murray said he’ll make an announcement about that Tuesday, at the Cascade Bicycle Club’s annual breakfast.

Alaska’s money is in addition to other grants and sponsorships, including $1 million from the U.S. government, $750,000 from the Washington State Department of Transportation, and $500,000 from Seattle Children’s.

User fees will be $8 per day, $16 for three days, and $85 per year, along with a helmet-rental fee of $2 per use, according to a Pronto! factsheet posted Monday afternoon.

pronto_bikeshare

Instead of a rear rack, shared bikes will provide a front-end cargo hold. Image supplied by Puget Sound Bike Share

Comments | Topics: Alaska Airlines, bikeshare, Mayor Ed Murray

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