By Jeffrey Stern
What’s one of the biggest hassles of using a bike share program? Often times finding parking or a docking station close enough to your final destination provides an extra deterrent for those looking to get out of their cars and into the bike-sharing world.
San Francisco based company, Spin, has launched a pilot program with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) nearly four months after the demise of the year long test of the docking style Pronto bike share program. Seattle’s original bike-share program cost $85 for an annual membership with unlimited 30-minute rides, which broke down to around $7 per month.
Spin offers a month-to-month commitment for $29, giving riders unlimited 30-minute rides around the city. The company says they arrived at their price point because it’s under a dollar per day, assuming the user rides everyday of the month. Which, based on Seattle’s notoriously wet winters, might not be the best deal come November.
With 500 bikes on the streets, the program is in full swing with hi-tech, bright orange bikes. Each one features a three-speed internal hub, a dynamo hub driven LED front light, an onboard GPS with cellular modem, easily adjustable seats, 26-inch, solid-foam tires, a front basket and for those unfazed by the weather, front and rear fenders.
Riders will have to bring their own helmets though as Spin won’t be providing them and it’s illegal to ride in King County without one.
How does a dockless bike work? Spin bikes are unlocked via their smartphone app (iOS and Android compatible), so there is a slight barrier to entry as roughly 77% of Americans have smartphones. Without an iPhone or credit card, these dockless bikes are unusable. Once a rider completes their ride, they park and lock the bike in a Spin authorized location in the city.
Within two days of the launch a couple weeks ago, Spin saw over 1,000 rides on their bikes.
Spin is focusing on launching the bikes in Seattle’s downtown area before pushing out into the city’s adjacent neighborhoods. Another private, Bay Area bike-share company LimeBike has also secured a contract with the city and launched LimePrime, offering 100 30-minute rides per month for approximately $30. The dockless bike-share push isn’t stopping in the Pacific Northwest; it’s reported that Spin is in talks with getting more of their bright orange, technology packed bikes on the streets of New York City in the near future.