Portland, Seattle start bike-share race in earnest
By Andy Giegerich
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Alta's Mia Birk said the efforts to add bike-share programs in Portland and Seattle by next spring can work collaboratively, not competitively.
With Portland’s Alta Bicycle Share Inc. landing a key role in Seattle’s coming bike-share program, the two cities could find themselves competing to see which one starts the community bicycling program first.
Alta will operate the Puget Sound Bike Share project, which is expected to cost $3.7 million as it starts up. The program will then cost $1.4 million to operate annually.
The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that the Seattle nonprofit Bike Share is still negotiating the contract with Alta. Alta, a division of Alta Planning + Design, beat out four other companies as it helps bring 500 bikes to 50 sharing stations around Seattle.
Mia Birk, Alta’s president, said both the Portland program, confirmed in December, and the Seattle offering are set to launch next spring. However, there’s no timetable as to which effort will start first.
“That’s one way to put it,” said Birk when asked whether the two cities are in a bike-share race. “but we’re excited about coordinating the sponsorships and roll-outs in both cities.”
Both the Puget Sound Bike Share and Portland Bike Share Inc. groups are fundraising in hopes of attracting private-sector sponsors to pay for equipment and station building. The Portland effort hopes to add between 500 and 750 bikes at 75 facilities.
As with their Portland counterparts, Seattle bike-share program administrators hope to procure federal, local and state grants to fund the project. The program will be sustained through a combination of membership costs, user fees and corporate sponsorships on bike share stations.
Seattle hopes to fully expand its program throughout the city in 2017.
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