Saving Pronto

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:

  1. Eliminate the compulsory helmet law.
  2. Build more protected bike routes that are direct & have easy access to transit.
  3. 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.

A beautiful sidewalk mosaic in Vancouver reminds us about the intersection of bikes & transit

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.

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