Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share has done it again. They’ve been chosen to operate a 500 bike, 50 station bike share system in Seattle. The announcement was made today by Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS). According to a press release, Alta will work with PSBS to plan, launch and sustain a bike share network that will launch in Seattle by spring 2014 and then expand throughout the Puget Sound region.
PSBS Executive Director Holly Houser wrote on the company’s Facebook page today, “We have been and continue to be impressed with Alta’s approach to bike share and their ability to partner with cities and successfully deliver location-specific systems.”
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said in a statement that bike share, “Is a solution for our region that will not only make it easier to get around and improve health, but based on what’s happened in other cities, permanently changes the way people experience their community.”
Houser added that Alta was able to address Seattle’s “unique challenges” of hills and helmets. To tackle Seattle’s steep inclines, Alta will offer bicycles with seven speeds instead of the three-speed bikes used in their other systems. Alta currently operates bike share systems in Washington D.C. and Boston and their New York City launch is underway.
Another unique challenge for Seattle’s bike share system is their all ages, mandatory helmet law. Such laws have been a barrier for bike share systems, which rely on seamless and spur-of-the-moment rental transactions. PSBS says Alta plans to utilize an “integrated helmet vending solution.” We saw a preview of what this might look like when Alta showed off the machines up in Vancouver, B.C. last summer.
So far, PSBS has secured $750,000 from the Washington Department of Transportation to cover some of its initial launch. But more funds are needed, and Houser says now that they’ve selected an operator/vendor they can now pursue major corporate sponsors.
This puts Seattle neck and neck with Portland in terms of getting bike share on the ground. Our system is also slated to launch in spring 2014 and Alta is currently seeking corporate sponsors to step up and fund Portland Bike Share.