Eastside cities are an excellent option for bailing out Seattle’s troubled Pronto bike-sharing system.

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THERE’S an easy, regional solution for Seattle’s troubled Pronto bike-share program.

Rather than throw good money after bad and commit to costly upgrades and operating costs, the city of Seattle should give Pronto bikes and equipment to the Eastside.

Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah and Kirkland are considering bike-share programs, using a $5.5 million grant in the state’s latest transportation budget.

Municipal bike-rental ventures like Pronto won’t work for long trips between or around those cities. They share the hilly topography and rainy climate that’s contributed to Pronto’s failure in Seattle.

But Pronto-like service might work better within Eastside urban centers. They have friendlier terrain, fewer transit options and concentrations of residents, businesses and parks. Best of all, they have safe, dedicated bike trails.

Downtown Redmond, for instance, is flat, dense and bordered by the excellent Sammamish River Trail. In Kirkland, several employment and retail clusters are now connected by the Cross Kirkland Corridor.

A bicyclist rides a recumbent cycle on one of the trails through Marymoor Park in November (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times).
A bicyclist rides a recumbent cycle on one of the trails through Marymoor Park in November (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times).

This arrangement could help Seattle out of its financial bind surrounding Pronto. Eastside cities could use some of their state grant to help Seattle buy out Pronto’s nonprofit operator for $1.4 million. In return, Seattle should give the bikes and equipment to the Eastside cities.

Seattle is also on the hook for a $1 million federal grant used for Pronto. If it transfers the bikes to other municipalities, it wouldn’t have to repay that money, according to city staff.

This swap would bail out Pronto and save Seattle from pouring millions into a failed system.Eastside cities — and state taxpayers funding their bike programs — would get a bargain.

Either way, Seattle has more important things to spend money on than Pronto.

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