Dockless in Seattle

In the year since a new kind of bikeshare was launched in Seattle, the bikes have been found in many interesting spots. But is there a place for them in the region’s future?

In summer 2017, thousands of brightly-hued bikes started covering Seattle streets. Unlike Seattle’s previous bikeshare program, Pronto, which required users to return the bike to a designated parking station, these don’t have a station. You unlock the bike with your smartphone, then leave it at your destination. It’s more convenient, so the program has been seeing a lot more use and overall enthusiasm than Pronto ever did. But all that freedom sometimes leads to… well, chaos. The bikes have been hung off of bridges, stop signs, and trees; they’ve been drowned in lakes, thrown in bushes, and holed up in people’s houses; they’ve been tossed in piles and mangled and tagged. This week, as Seattle releases its initial evaluation of a year with dockless bikeshare, Seattleland intern Aidan Walker takes stock of all that vandalism and mayhem—and explores what bike companies and city staffers are doing to stem the tide of careless parkers.

Music by Ask Again, Kevin MacLeod, Jahzarr, and Leeni Ramadan

This week’s cover photo is an image of a remarkably orderly line of Ofo bikes, taken by Aidan Walker.

More in Northwest

Walkers rest amid the trees at Island Center Forest on Vashon Island, which is part of King County. Many trees around Western Washington are struggling, including Western hemlock on Vashon, likely from drought stress. Photo by Susie Fitzhugh
King County forests are facing new challenges

Hot, dry summers are stressing native tree species in Western Washington.

Jim Pitts stands on walkway overlooking filtration chambers at the King County South Treatment Plant in Renton. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Human waste: Unlikely climate change hero?

King County treatment plant joins effort to counteract effects of carbon dioxide.

Washington State Capitol Building. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Legislation targets rape kit backlog

WA has about 10,000 untested kits; new law would reduce testing time to 45 days

Photo by Kayse Angel
What’s next for the I-405 master plan?

New express toll lanes from Renton to Bellevue are coming soon.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources/Kari Greer
Western Washington faces elevated wildfire risk in 2019

Humans cause majority of fires in state

Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County approves bargaining agreement with 60 unions

Employees will receive wage increases and $500 bonus.

File photo
Law enforcement oversight office seeks subpoena power

Organization has been unable to investigate King County Sheriff’s Office.

Call for peace, unity, understanding

City, county and state leaders show support of Islam community in wake of massacre at New Zealand mosques

King County bail reform hinges on pretrial decision making

Data on inmates has shown that being held pretrial affects the likelihood of conviction.

Clues for fixing King County’s child care woes may be found in British Columbia

B.C. struggles with many of the same problems as Washington state.

A look inside the King County Juvenile Detention Center. File photo
King County is still using solitary confinement on juveniles

Report on solitary confinement shows the county is not honoring its agreement.