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Sketched April 23, 2015

Where are all those people who commute by Pronto?

When I posed that question the other day, several people replied via email or raised their hand on Twitter. One of them was Ryan Packer, a 28-year-old car-free, Pronto-loving data analyst who lives on Capitol Hill and works in the Denny Triangle.

Packer has logged 200 miles in 150 trips in six months commuting from Summit Avenue and East Olive Way to Third Avenue and Broad Street. He also hops on a Pronto mid day to run errands at Pike Place Market or have a espresso at Umbria in Pioneer Square. That’s where I headed with him earlier today on my first real test of the bike service — I brought my own helmet from home!

Despite the rain, the ride on the Second Avenue bike lane was really smooth and faster than I thought. It took us just 20 minutes to get to the Pergola, where I used the remaining time of the 30-minute ride limit to make a quick line sketch of Packer that I colored when I got back to the newsroom. While he stood with the bike and I drew, people came by to ask: “How much does it cost?” He said it happens all the time. “Everyone who rides becomes a Pronto ambassador.”

As we headed to drop the bikes at the Occidental Square station, Packer told me something else that is giving me a new understanding of the bike share program. It’s not for cyclists, he said. “They already have their own bikes.” It’s for pedestrians who want to get to places faster.

As much as he loves Pronto’s bike share, though, Packer said the system needs to have more users and stations to become truly efficient.