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

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

The Marquee on Meeker Apartments, 2030 W. Meeker St. in Kent, will feature 492 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail. The first phase of 288 apartments is expected to be completed in early 2020. Developers are targeting people in their 20s and 30s to rent their high-end, urban-style apartments. Steve Hunter/staff photo
Housing study pokes holes in conventional wisdom

High construction and land costs will incentivize developers to build luxury units.

I’ll miss Doug Baldwin the player, but I’ll miss the man more

I witnessed ‘Contemplative Doug,’ not ‘Angry Doug,’ in my time covering the Seahawks.

File photo
Eviction reform passed by state Legislature

Tenant protections included longer notices and more judicial discretion.

Overdose deaths continue to rise locally and nationally

This may not be the same opioid epidemic anymore.

Architectural rendering of a modular congregate shelter. Modular housing is a type of dwelling where the components are manufactured in one location, then assembled at another location. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov.
Modular housing in King County moves ahead

Small, portable housing units are being explored by the county to address homelessness.

Gov. Jay Inslee shakes hands with Dinah Griffey after signing Senate Bill 5649 on April 19. The law revises the statute of limitations for sex crimes. Photo by Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Hits and misses from Legislature’s 2019 session

New laws target vaccines, sex crimes and daylight savings; losers include sex ed and dwarf tossing bills.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to protesting nurses on April 24 at the State Capitol Building in Olympia. Inslee indicated he would sign the bill for meal and rest breaks into law if it passes both chambers. Photo by Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Lawmakers approve ‘nursing bill’ for mandatory meal and rest breaks

Nurses show up in Olympia to support bill, protest Sen. Walsh’s remarks.

Colton Harris-Moore, known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” as seen on a GoFundMe page where he sought to raise $125,000 for flight training. (GoFundMe)
‘Barefoot Bandit’ asks judge to shorten his supervised release

Colton Harris-Moore says travel restrictions are holding back a lucrative public-speaking career.

USPS district manager Darrell Stoke, Janie Hendrix and Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) unveil the plaque honorarily naming the Renton Highlands Post Office as the “James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix Post Office” on Friday, April 19. Photo by Haley Ausbun
Highlands Post Office honors Jimi Hendrix

Postal Service connected Hendrix to family during his Army service.

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.