1. The Pamela Banks campaign DISLIKES Kshama Sawant's tenacious? petty? tactics.
There's a kerfuffle in the 37th District (Southeast Seattle) where Banks edged out an endorsement over the default Sawant endorsement, "No Endorsement," by "three or fewer votes," according to 37th chair Rory O'Sullivan. (Sawant, a socialist, isn't eligible herself.)
Sawant's troops, hoping for the "No Endorsement," challenged three pro-Banks votes cast by brand new members, East African immigrants recruited by city council member and 37th member Bruce Harrell (who has endorsed Banks.) The new recruits may not have been members long enough to cast votes.
And then there's this: For six nights running, the Banks campaign reports, people have stolen Banks yard signs from outside the Urban League at 14th and Yesler; the owner of the building (where Banks works as director of the Urban League) is a Banks fan. Security cam caught the apparent anti-Banks vandals in action:
2. Seattle Department of Transportation director Scott Kubly LIKES Seattle's new bike share system. In fact, he likes it enough that Seattle is taking over management of the system from Pronto, the company that's been running the 50 station/500 bike system.
Skeptical about the $5 million allocation for the company in Mayor Murray's 2016 budget proposal, I asked SDOT to justify the investment in expanding bike sharing by providing stats on the program to date. I get that start ups need capital, but the city shouldn't be throwing good money after bad just to resuscitate a project that isn't viable on its own.
Kubly says: "Bike sharing is like any network. The bigger the network, the more effective that network becomes." He cited Washington, D.C.'s program, which he helped start in 2008, pointing out that it when it went from a 10-station/100 bike system to a 110-station/1,100 bike system in 2010, it simultaneously went from .8 rides per bike per day to four-to-five rides per bike per day. He acknowledges that D.C. is much denser than Seattle, but says the cities are about the same size.
Kubly says Seattle's system is currently getting two-to-three rides per bike per day (in the warmer months). "For a system that only has 50 stations, those are pretty good numbers," he says. Kubly says SDOT did a financial analysis and the model is "financially sustainable," adding: "based on the data we're seeing in the first year of operations, it merits an expansion. It will do better when it's larger."
So much so, he told me, that the city is currently working with Pronto's board to have the city take over management of the contract; Pronto currently manages and operates the contract with a company called motivate. Kubly says the city will replace Pronto and is working out a contract with Motivate to "reduce the exposure to the city for any operating losses."
The $5 million is coupled with a federal grant application for $10 million, with a plan to expand Seattle's system to 250 stations and 2,500 bikes. Kubly says part of the grant proposes using electric bikes to "flatten out" the city.
Kubly, who says data in Chicago—where there's a 476 station/4,760 bike system—shows that biking is faster than busing for commuters. He concludes that Pronto has "been successful for a system of [its] size, it's doing quite well, but if you want bike sharing to be part of your public transportation system, which we do, it needs to be at a bigger scale."