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Articles by Amelia Urry

Amelia Urry is Grist's associate editor of science and technology, and self-appointed poet-in-residence. Follow her on Twitter.

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“Sorry about the smell; it’s not usually this bad.”

Andrew Infante is watching the rearview mirror of his Dodge RAM ProMaster and trying to maneuver out of a parking spot along a steep and congested street in downtown Seattle. In the back of the mostly empty cargo van, three bikes are roped together with a bungee cord. Two are green, with highlighter-yellow fenders like bright parentheses. The third is chalky white. That is where the smell — a murky eau de low tide — is coming from.

“We call them barnacle bikes,” says Infante, the Seattle operations manager for Lime, a startup that runs bike- and scooter-share programs in several American cities. “We thought we didn’t have to say, ‘Don’t throw them in the water,’ but I guess that’s not obvious to everyone.”

Fishing bikes out of lakes and waterfronts is one of many trials bikeshare companies must overcome in the Emerald City, which isn’t the easiest place to get around on two wheels. Unlike New York City or Washington, D.C., where city-sponsored bikeshare programs have flourished, the Pacific Northwest’s notorious drizzle and unrelenting topography pose challenges to the bike-curious commuter.

Seattle’... Read more

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