Free-Floating Bike Share

Updated: October 15, 2018

What's happening now?

How did the pilot go?

Free-floating bike share has been a big success in Seattle—and we know there’s more work to do to get it right for everyone. Take a look at our Bike Share Pilot Evaluation to learn more about what worked, what didn’t, and what we learned during the pilot study period.

Want even more details? Check out the report’s appendices at the bottom of the page.

What is next?

Permit requirements: Take a look at our new permit requirements for the 2018-2019 permit year.

Permit applications: We received applications from Jump, Lime, and Lyft for the new permit cycle. We have reviewed and scored each application according to our scoring criteria. You can see their scores. Once the permit program has completed environmental review, we will be ready to issue permits.

Spin (orange bikes) and ofo (yellow bikes) did not submit applications for the 2018-2019 permit cycle and will withdraw their bikes from Seattle. If you see a Spin or ofo bike that has not yet been retrieved, call 206-684-ROAD or email us with the exact location, the bike number (if possible), and the bike color or company.

What is Bike Share?

Bike share lets you borrow a bike for a quick errand, a trip to Link light rail, an all-day adventure, and everything in between. You pick up the bikeshare bike closest to you, ride it to where you want to go, and leave the bike for the next person to ride.

How is this pilot different from Seattle’s last bike share program?

Pronto, Seattle’s original bike share program, was discontinued in early 2017. SDOT has learned from Pronto and harnessed the innovations of private bike share companies to create a new bike share program with some exciting improvements:

  • No docking required: Because the bikes are equipped with GPS, customers can find the nearest available bike on each bike share company’s smartphone app.
  • Available citywide: Bike share companies set their own service areas, and many cover the entire city. You can find a bike in any neighborhood and leave it where it’s most convenient for you.
  • Private marketplace: Unlike Pronto, the new bike share system is a private marketplace that does not include any capital investment by the city. Bike share companies obtain a permit, supply the bikes, and compete for your business.

How does it work?

To use bike share, download the company’s smartphone app. The app will show you a map with all the bikes closest to you. Scan the QR code on the bike to unlock it and start your trip. Check with each company for prices and ways to rent a bike without a smartphone.

Bike share users should know how to ride a bike and should be familiar with local bike laws. Don’t forget your helmet!

When your ride is finished, you can park the bike at any city bike rack or on the sidewalk. Follow the company’s instructions to lock the bike and end your trip. Some important guidelines for parking:

  • You can park the bike in the landscaping/furniture zone of sidewalks (the part of the sidewalk with trees, poles, and other fixtures), as long as that space is more than three feet wide.
  • Leave at least six feet clear for pedestrians to pass.
  • Do not park on corners, driveways, or curb ramps.
  • Do not block access to buildings, benches, parking pay stations, bus stops, hydrants, etc.
  • Park the bike upright.
  • Be courteous to others—don’t park in somebody else’s way, and don’t hide the bike somewhere that the next user can’t get to it.

Electric-assist bicycles

Electric-assist bicycles have the potential to make bike share a more accessible and convenient mobility option in Seattle, and have recently launched as part of Seattle’s bike share program. These bikes still require users to pedal, they just make Seattle’s challenging topography a little more manageable.

Whom do I contact with questions or comments?

If a bike is improperly parked or needs maintenance, contact the company using the contact information below (note that this information may change beginning September 2018):

The company must move an improperly parked bike within two hours of notification during weekdays and ten hours on evenings, weekends, and holidays.

If you are involved in a collision and somebody is injured or you need emergency assistance, dial 911. File a collision report online with the Washington State Patrol. Report the collision to the company and let them know if the bike needs to be repaired or removed from service.

If you have other questions or feedback, or you are interested in obtaining a permit, please contact bike share program manager Joel Miller at joel.miller@seattle.gov.

Further reading

2017-2018 Permit Year (Pilot Evaluation)

2018-2019 Permit Year (Permit 2.0)

Presentations

SDOT Blog

SEPA Determination of Non-Significance Environmental Review Documents

Pronto Cycle Share

As of April 1, 2017, Pronto Cycle Share is no longer in operation. The City of Seattle has moved the equipment into storage and is looking for a new home for the equipment. If you are interested in purchasing the bike share equipment please contact Joel Miller at joel.miller@seattle.gov.

Surplus Pronto bikes