It isn't quite the bike sharing program the city deserves, but it's a start: Timbuk2 launched a new Bike Share program in its downtown store yesterday. Patrons of the store can now borrow a bike with accompanying helmet, bike lock, and messenger bag—at no charge.

Last year we wondered why city-sponsored bike sharing hadn't yet come to Seattle (answer: "Weather, topography, helmet laws, and funding," apparently). But it's really and truly almost here: Puget Sound Bike Share will launch in 2014 with 500 bikes and bike helmet vending machines. We'll be catching up with cities like Denver and NYC; the latter launched a massive 6,000-bike sharing system called Citi Bike in May and saw their bikes travel a million miles in less than a month—and earn their riders a record number of cycling tickets. Buggy as it may be, the New York system is undeniably popular. 

Timbuk2’s new Bike Share is more like a free rental, and there are only three bikes. But no purchase is required at the Seventh Avenue and Pine store; just provide the store with your ID and a credit card, fill out a liability waiver, and you’re ready to go. Bikes must be returned during store business hours, and the loan of a Timbuk2 messenger bag is included. The wheels are Giant Seek 0 bikes, eight-speeds known for their versatility. And don't forget the helmet—it's the law!

Why bikes at a bag store? The San Francisco-based bag manufacturing company was started in 1989 by a bike messenger and since then has enthusiastically promoted cycle commuting. The 2011 bike-share program launched in Timbuk2's original Bay Area location and proved popular enough to spread to Seattle, its newest outpost (and only one not on home turf). We'll take it.

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