Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 12th, 2012 at 10:15 am
The City of Portland is putting the pieces in place for the new bike sharing system they say is coming in spring 2013. On Friday (without any fanfare at all), they launched PDXBikeShare.com, which gives us our first look at how PBOT is marketing the program and, more importantly, marks the launch of an interactive station locator tool.
The social-media enabled tool allows anyone to place a red pin where they want to see a bike sharing kiosk location. Users can then create a station name and provide a description of the location. Other users can comment on station locations, share it on Twitter and Facebook, or email it to a friend. The map view can also be filtered for popularity. Here's how one of the four entries received so far looks...
I can already imagine that many of the suggested stations will be in outlying neighborhoods (where most people live), even though the system itself will be focused on the Central Business District. This could end up giving fuel to arguments from equity advocates who have been pressing PBOT to serve areas beyond downtown with the new service.
As for how PBOT is marketing Portland Bike Share... Look at these beautiful, smiling people seen on the web site:
The new site is also interesting because it shows how PBOT is framing the program to the public (a public that that is sure to include a lot of skeptics). In a newly expanded FAQ, the City makes the case for bike share:
Having a bike share system means giving Portlanders an efficient, sustainable choice. Our region has a comprehensive and safe bikeway network that bike share customers can use to cover short trips quickly. Bike share riders will move throughout the city without adding to road congestion and parking demand, while improving air quality and personal health by forgoing a car trip. Residents, business owners and travelers want bike share to come to Portland for all these reasons.
And the question of "Who's paying for it?":
The City and its Transportation Bureau are not committed to purchase or operate bike share, but are managing the grant award and facilitating the selection of a private sector vendor to operate the system...
The FAQ page doesn't address the thorny (to some) issue of helmet use; but it does tackle the issue of whether or not a credit/debit card will be required (something that equity advocates have bristled at):
Since this [a bank card requirement] presents a barrier to people who don’t have access to credit, bike share systems in Washington,D.C., and Denver are working on pilot projects to make their services available to those without bank cards. The City of Portland plans to work with a private sector vendor to make bike share available to everyone.
PBOT is expected to release the official Request for Proposals for a bike share system operator any day now. Once the process of choosing a vendor is complete, then the real planning will begin. The system is expected to be up and running by spring 2013.
For more on Portland's bike share system, see our past coverage.