Pronto Seattle Bike Share Program: Safe system or problematic plan?

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Early this month, the Seattle bike share program called Pronto launched. The program kicked off with 500 bikes available at 50 stations around Seattle. It also allows bicyclists to borrow and return a bicycle helmet.                                                                                     

The operators of the program believe that the program will generate interest in bicycling in Seattle. Supporters argue that the program can actually make the streets safer, while some believe the increase in the number of bicyclists on the streets will lead to more bike-related accidents and injuries.

Will Pronto increase bicycle accident risks?

Some believe that tourists and riders with little to no bicycling experience – especially bicycling on busy streets – will make the streets unsafe. With more of them, it could increase the number of accidents around the city.

But others insist that the program, like other bicycle share programs around the country, is safe and won't increase the number of accidents.

In fact, in New York, the bike share program was launched in May 2013, and through August of 2014, not a single bicyclist enrolled in the bike share program was killed in an accident according to a Reuters article citing a Citi Bike representative. Since the first bike share program kicked off in 2007 in Oklahoma, no fatalities have been recorded in any of the bike share programs across the country according to the Reuters article.

Seattle's Bike Share Program: Safety First

Pronto launched with an eye towards safety. Clean, standardized, individually- wrapped helmets are available at each location for free. That could lead more bicyclists to wear a helmet who might not have done so otherwise. Other bike share programs in other cities don't offer helmets to riders who rent a bike.

Further, Pronto provides maps for those who rent a bike to help them find quieter streets and roads that include bike lanes. The Seattle Department of Transportation has provided 2,000 maps and brochures according to, citing spokesperson Mary Beth Turner. And the SDOT is working with the police department to inform riders about their responsibilities, such as yielding to pedestrians when on sidewalks.

Bicycles typically used in bicycle share programs are often heavy, with a low center of gravity. That means a lower risk falling off the bicycle. These bikes tend to be wider, and the Pronto bikes come with puncture-proof tires. Pronto bicycles are designed to make bicyclists visible to motorists, and discourage fast speeds.

The bicycle share program may lead to more people choosing to rent a bicycle for short trips instead of taking a car. Some argue this could reduce vehicle traffic, if only slightly at first. And that's not mentioning the exercise benefits that come from pedaling to a destination rather than sitting on a bus or in a car.

But Bicycle Accidents Still Occur…

Unfortunately, bicycle accidents still do occur no matter how many safety precaution riders take. Drivers may fail to recognize a bicyclist's right to the road or may otherwise drive unsafely around bicyclists. If a motorist or other party is to blame for your bike accident, you may take legal action to recover damages.

For more information about bicycle accidents and safety, head over to our bicycle and pedestrian accidents blog. If you're ever injured in a bicycle accident, call Max Meyers Law PLLC. You could recover compensation that covers your medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering related to the accident. Call 425-399-7000 to speak with an attorney, or fill out our online contact form

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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.