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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

As Kriseman pushes for bike share, Seattle offers up a cautionary tale



St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has struggled to get City Council members to support his bike-share program. 

They resisted the idea of using BP settlement money for the program last year. After raising a series of questions about the viability of the program last week, Council members decided to bring it up again next month.

While success stories for bike share abound, providing council members evidence to move forward, Seattle's road to bike share can be used by skeptics to apply the brakes.

According to The Seattle Times, that city's bike-share program needs $1.4 million after its program, Pronto, became insolvent. Apparently, the program didn't raise enough money before launching, has "substantial overhead costs" and racked up debt. If the program discontinues, Seattle would be on the hook for $1 million in federal grants.

"At this point Pronto doesn't have money to pay for operations moving forward. A bill would come in on March 1 that's due March 30 and unless anything's changed on [Pronto's] part, I don't think they have a way to pay that bill," said Nicole Freedman, the director of active transportation for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), at a recent council meeting, according to Next City

But Pronto's former executive director, Holly Houser, said the nonprofit stopped seeking grants and raising money because the city had told it it wanted to buy it in August. That didn't happen.

"It makes all the sense in the world for the city to own and operate the bike-share system," Houser told The Seattle Times. "The only reason the nonprofit was formed 3½ years ago was because the city wasn't interested in owning and launching bike share at the time, and now that's changed."

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2016 9:53am]


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