Update March 10: Since folks are still commenting on this:
The Seattle Times’ Brier Dudley has a piece much discussed on talk radio: Pronto alternative: bike ownership.
And Publicola’s Josh Feit has a rebuttal: A Bike Policy for Adults.
Off-topic, but about biking, the Seattle Bike Blog has a post slamming sharrows, but also sort-of explaining them. (“The sharrow is the city’s most prolific graffiti tag.”)
Update Thursday afternoon: Two days after the fact, The Seattle Times has a new story saying the city claims Tuesday’s vote on Pronto was not in fact split 3-3 but actually favored bailing out Pronto 4-2 because:
1) Councilwoman Debora Juarez, who represents Maple Leaf and north Seattle, actually voted “aye.”
2) Committee chair Mike O’Brien, a Pronto backer, counted wrong.
The story is here: Seattle council panel’s Pronto vote wasn’t an even split, after all.
Though Juarez didn’t contest O’Brien’s take at the time, she actually voted “Aye,” which means the real result was 4-2 in favor of buying the struggling bike-sharing program for $1.4 million. That’s what the council’s official record now shows.
With a 3-3 tie, the plan to rescue Pronto would have gone to the full council March 14 with no recommendation from the committee. The 4-2 result means there will be a recommendation that the full council vote to prop up the program.
SeattleBikeBlog has posted here.
Pronto – Seattle’s bike renting program which will go broke at month’s end (and would already be insolvent if the city hadn’t spent nearly a third of a million dollars bailing it out at the turn of the year) – is still adrift.
On Tuesday the city’s transportation committee – now called the “Sustainability & Transportation Committee” – split 3-3 on whether Pronto should be saved for another $1.4 million.
(Editorial snark: The old public safety committee is now named the “Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans Committee. We originally thought public safety might have become the new “Human Services & Public Health Committee,” but perhaps that’s the one saddled with The Jungle, another place to watch how the new council functions.)
Our interest in Pronto is not so much in whether it’s useful to Maple Leaf and the north end – it’s not, unless you take a bus or, soon, light rail, downtown – but in its politics.
How will Seattle City Council members, newly elected by district to represent specific neighborhoods, vote?
In this case, Debora Juarez, who represents the north end’s Council District 5, including most of Maple Leaf, voted on Tuesday against the buyout.
Councilman Rob Johnson, who represents Maple Leaf’s southern toe and points south in District 4, is an enthusiastic “yes,” and has posted such on the City’s web site: Why investing in bike-share matters.
For more about districts citywide, go here.
The Seattle Times has coverage of Tuesday’s meeting here: City Council can’t make up its mind over saving bike-share program.
Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the committee, voted for purchase, as did Rob Johnson and Kshama Sawant. Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Tim Burgess and Debora Juarez voted against the plan.
O’Brien represents Northwest Seattle, Sawant represents the Central District.
Herbold represents West Seattle/South Park, Burgess’ district covers the entire city.
Publicola has coverage here: Council Agrees Bike Sharing Is Good, but Finds Little Common Ground During Tense Pronto Hearing.
Crosscut has coverage here: Rescuing Pronto bikeshare divides Seattle council.
And The Stranger is here, After Council Vote, Still No Clear Answer on Whether the City Will Save Pronto, with Heidi Groover writing these two most pertinent graphs:
That underscores one interesting thing we learned today: This new council’s voting blocs may be less predictable that the last city council. Sawant and Herbold, considered allies, split on this. The populist Sawant found herself on the same side as Johnson, who faced criticism during the campaign because he won support from business and restaurant interests.
Finally, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell about one mostly irrelevant but totally idiotic thing that happened at today’s meeting. As SDOT’s Nicole Freedman was explaining to the city council the risks of private operation of a bike share system, she mentioned that in Miami Beach, a Playboy Playmate was a spokesperson for bike share. Her message: You’re not in control! Anything could happen!
The full City Council votes on Monday, March 14th. 15th .