As Seattle’s Bike share closes this month, Portland’s Bike share program is booming

At the end of this month, Pronto Bike Share will end their run as Seattle’s bike share program.   At the same time, Portland’s bike share program “Biketown” receives a $750,000 cash infusion from Kaiser Permanente.

Pronto Bike Share’s last ride will be March 31st and it will mark the end of a failed attempt to catch Seattle up with other cities who have found ways to make bike share programs successful.

It’s odd that just 3 hours away, in a city with similar topography, similar weather, and somewhat similar people, they have found a way to make bike sharing work.

To be clear, Portland’s system is by no means a gold mine.  With under 3,000 subscribers, it’s hardly the next billion dollar company.

While some may blame the variance between cycling laws in the areas, the real issue may come down to public tax dollars.

Unlike Pronto, which was effectively bailed out by the City of Seattle before being shut down, the Portland bike share has been funded by sponsorship, most notably 10 million dollars from Nike.

Keeping systems like Portland’s Biketown above water may have more to do with keeping it off the radar of those who want to protect their tax dollars from being used for others transportation choices, rather than things like helmet and bike lane laws.

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