While I was at Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike/Pro-Place I ran into a man who told me that based on a month of riding Pronto full-time last year that he could solve all of their problems! And it was…drum roll please…ELECTRIC BIKES!
The first hint I got that he doesn’t understand the purpose of bikeshare was that he said he was an avid, long-distance rider and that when he was in Seattle for work he took Pronto EVERYWHERE.
Bikeshare, as I tried explaining to him, is not a tool for EVERYWHERE. It is not the panacea to bike theft (his main reason for riding everywhere was not locking up). It is a small piece in a larger, multi-modal solution. You might think that at a conference with a heavy focus on multi-modal transportation one would know this. But you would be wrong.
He said that he lead local leaders on a tour of Seattle via Pronto. He said he wanted to take them to the top of a big hill to show them a great view. He said they rode a “gentle” route with switchbacks to make climbing easier. He said people dropped the ride because they didn’t want to bike up a giant hill. He seemed to believe that e-bikes would make people want to ride up giant hills for recreational views. As an owner of an e-bike I can say this has not been my experience. Not. Even. Close.
Maybe, just maybe, if you want to demonstrate the TRANSPORTATION benefits of bikeshare you should take people on a multi-modal tour, to demonstrate actual use. But hey, that doesn’t fit with the idea of riding EVERYWHERE.
The goal of Pronto isn’t to get everyone on a bike riding EVERYWHERE. It’s to encourage people to take short, one-way trips. So maybe you don’t bike UP the hill. Maybe you take the bus. But hey – that’s cool. Maybe you bike DOWN the hill.
Bikeshare, in my oh-so-expert opinion, isn’t about exercise or exertion; It’s about ease of connections.
Here’s how to attract more users in 3 simple steps:
- Eliminate the compulsory helmet law.
- Build more protected bike routes that are direct & have easy access to transit.
- Build more stations & build them closer together. Put them every 2 blocks. Make it easy. Put them right outside of transit centers. Right there. Not across the street or around the corner. RIGHT OUTSIDE.
So Pronto, you want more specific ideas of promotions you can do to get more people riding? I wrote them down & they’re good & I’ll share them with you! Cash/Venmo accepted.