Portland has been studying the prospect of a bike-sharing system for several years. We’ve covered it every step of the way. Browse our previous coverage below and click a headline to read the full story.
(Photo: Diane Yee)
As we mentioned in this week’s news roundup, Seattle’s 16-month-old bike sharing system is in a very tight spot.
With the Pronto system taking in only 68 percent of the money required to meet its operating costs last year and the city considering taking it over in order to bail it out, many Portlanders are rightly wondering whether the upcoming Biketown system (which will be operated by the same company, Motivate) could face similar problems.
We talked to some of the country’s leading independent bike-share experts today to get their take. Here’s what we heard.
bike share system, even if no charge were made.
Update 1:25 pm: This article was based on a Nov. 2 interview, but we didn’t check with the city again before publishing; we should have. Since Nov. 2, the city has done new research and is also speaking about the issues differently. We’ve changed the headline to reflect that. See the bottom of the post for more information.
Making bike-share systems useful to poorer people has been one of the thorniest problems in North American bike sharing.
One reason is probably that you need a credit or debit card to access most bike-share systems, and almost 20 percent of American households that earn less than $30,000 a year don’t have bank accounts. Another reason, presumably, is that bike share memberships cost upwards of $100 a year or (in Portland’s case) $2.50 per nonmember ride.
The “single, supple mesh of mobility” that the government of Helsinki is hoping to use to “make car ownership pointless” by 2025 may be arising spontaneously and gradually in Portland.
For people reading between the lines, an announcement Tuesday from the North American Bike Share Association could lead to Portland becoming the first U.S. city where a single mobile app will be able to let you plan a trip and buy a ride from a bike share service, transit agency, carsharing company or ride-hailing service.
Pushing to grow its workforce without pouring precious cash into garage construction, Portland’s largest employer continues to roll out bike-transportation improvements.
“Basically we just copied what Nike does and made it blue,” said Kiel Johnson, owner of the Go By Bike shop and valet, of the 13-bike, two-station system. His team will operate it.
A half-hour city council hearing Wednesday on Portland’s proposed bike sharing system raised some questions but, seemingly, few serious concerns.
With a formal vote lined up next week, Commissioners Steve Novick and Nick Fish, along with Mayor Charlie Hales, all spoke warmly about the proposal.
Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman didn’t seem to be raising major objections, though both asked pointed questions: Fritz about safety and Saltzman about money. Saltzman in particular seemed upbeat about the plan. Neither offered a closing comment Wednesday, leaving themselves plenty of room to back away from the deal if they decide to.
its new web survey. The company added that it expects
the zone to grow.
The company planning to bring a private, free-floating bike sharing service to Portland is asking for input.
In a short web survey launched this month, Spinlister asks Portland residents how often they’d expect to rent bikes using the proposed Smart Bikes service, what they’d pay, how far they’d walk to reach the closest bike and what service area they’d like to see.
“We’re not doing this for fun or verification of a system already created to make them feel good,” Spinlister chief marketing officer Andrew Batey said in an email about the survey. “We’re building the platform to allow for variable business rules – which allows us to make fast and systemwide changes to various inputs (price, geo-fence, payment structures, support, etc.).”
In the last two days, we’ve reported in detail about the new bike-sharing system that Portland finally seems poised to secure next week.
All of these operational details have prompted a lot of discussion around a simple, fundamental question that everybody (including me, when I started reporting on bike sharing four years ago) tends to struggle with. What exactly is the point of bike sharing?
The charts below should help a lot.
PBOT thinks it’s important that they do.
(Image: Screen grab from Spinlister video)
Fourth in our four-post series about bike sharing in Portland.
Portland’s prospects for a public bike share system are looking as good as they ever have. Three of the city’s five council members said Wednesday that they’re excited to back a bike share deal, and a staffer for a fourth told us the proposal “looks great so far.”
Meanwhile, a different launch still seems to be in the works: a completely private bike-sharing system, a new product scheduled to be tested here in Portland by the peer-to-peer bike rental firm Spinlister.