Alaska Air Writes Big Check for Seattle Bike-Share Program

It’s customary to receive presents on your birthday. But for Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who turned 59 last Friday, it feels like he’s spent the last few days giving gifts to his city.

Today’s gift from the mayor - which comes on the heels of his minimum wage plan and the official whittling down of his police chief candidates list to three - comes in the form of a long-awaited unveiling of a bike-share program. In the works since well before his time in office, Murray stood beside Emerald City Cycle Share executive director Holly Houser and Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden this morning at the South Lake Union Discovery Center to announce that 500 bikes and 50 docking stations will, indeed, be in place by September. The bike share program will initially include the University District, South Lake Union, Downtown and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.

Perhaps the biggest news of the day is that Alaska Airlines has agreed to plunk down $2.5 million over five years to stake a claim as the bike share presenting sponsor. As part of the deal, according to the Mayor’s office, the Alaska Airlines’ logo will appear on the first 500 bikes, as well as on “marketing materials sent to bike share users.”

According to the press release, Puget Sound Bike Share - the nonprofit that has become synonymous with the creation of Seattle’s bike-share program - will “continue in its role as owner of the Pronto! Emerald City Cycle Share program, while partners Alta Bicycle Share will run day-to-day operations.” Meanwhile, “the partnership of Alta Bicycle Share and 8D Technologies will provide software and docking hardware.”

Much like she did earlier this year in an interview with Seattle Weekly, Houser today gave credit to Mayor Murray for helping Seattle’s bike-share program take shape.

“For several years, dedicated bike share supporters have been pulling together the pieces of this program, including funding, local partnerships, hardware and the technology,” Houser says in the press release. “The presenting sponsorship by Alaska Airlines and passionate support from Mayor Murray put bike share across the finish line and guaranteed that we will put 500 bikes on the street in September 2014.”

“Bike Share simply wouldn’t be possible in our City without the organizational and financial support of nearly a dozen community partners. I’m pleased that we were able to work with Alaska Airlines to make this partnership a reality,” Murray adds. “Alaska Airlines’ commitment to this program shows in their investment and represents the kind of company that makes our community remarkable.”

The initial bike share plan got murky in last year when Public Bike System Company (PBSC), the company that was supposed to supply Alta with equipment for Seattle’s bike-share program, filed for bankruptcy. However, a new supply chain, including a deal Alta struck with Montreal-based 8D Technologies, has apparently alleviated these concerns.

Seattle’s bike-share program is scheduled to launch in September. According to the press release, “Pronto! Cycle Share will convene 10 community listening sessions to hear feedback from neighborhood residents and leadership on issues ranging from station locations to access. Community listening sessions are free and open to the public. Specific dates and locations will be listed on Pronto! Cycle Share’s Facebook page.”

Here's a look at the new Pronto! Cycle Share bikes:

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