Portland Bike Share

Portland inked a deal with Nike to launch the “Biketown” system by July 2016. But the effort to bring bike share to Portland began way back in 2007. We’ve covered every twist and turn. Browse the archives below…

That one time, when they raced cyclocross on Biketown bikes

by on October 5th, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Last night at the Portland Trophy Cup cyclocross race we had an unexpected visitor: Dozens of bright orange bikes with a Nike swoosh on the side of them. Yes I’m talking about Biketown bike share bikes.

Portland now using pedal-powered trikes to help rebalance bike share stations

by on September 7th, 2016 at 7:51 am

Biketown cargo trike-1.jpg
Motivate employee Troy Leighton on the inaugural ride of the new cargo trikes being used to rebalance Biketown bikes.

Biketown is now using bikes to refill bikes at bike share stations. Makes perfect sense right?

Yesterday we scored a sneak peek at a new program that the City of Portland and Motivate (the city’s bike share operator) is working on: A small fleet of pedal-powered trikes that will help make sure Biketown stations have enough bikes available to potential users. In the bike share world this task is called rebalancing.

As bikes get used and left around town, some popular stations tend to run out of bikes. It’s a tricky issue for all bike share systems, and a costly one. Rebalancing is the single largest operational expense for bike share systems. Operators of Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare spend about 55 percent of their operating costs on rebalancing efforts which includes the wages of 20 van drivers and four dispatchers (we rode along with one in 2013).

Busy in Biketown: Top 10 bike share stations and first month stats

by on August 26th, 2016 at 9:54 am

We’re just going to come right out and say it: By every measure that matters, bike share in Portland is an unmitigated success (and yes we’re so confident in that statement we don’t think we’ll jinx it).

In case you missed our story yesterday about how behavioral science explains it, check out this new piece in The Oregonian where reporter Eliot Njus shares this wonderful little gem:

“The program is on-track to be self-sustaining, paying for its operations with user fees and corporate sponsorships. The transportation bureau has said the program won’t depend on city funds.”

So there’s that.

Now let’s take a closer look at the numbers behind all this great news.

The secret to Portland’s bike share success is in the science of behavior change

Jessica Roberts by on August 25th, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Biketowning in the park
Three brothers enjoying our city via Biketown: Philmore, Jermaine, and Vilynn Yun Ulinwa.
(Photos: J Maus/BikePortland)

This article is by Jessica Roberts, a principal at Alta Planning + Design and resident of north Portland. She previously wrote about a local bike racer and infrastructure on North Williams Avenue.

To the average Portlander, it must look like they just dropped from the sky overnight. Or perhaps like an exotic fungus that sprang up from the ground over a particularly rainy summer evening. I’m talking, of course, about one thousand bright orange Biketown bikes that have already – just one month into the program – become nothing short of cultural phenomenon.

Local company makes tote bag for front basket of Biketown bikes

by on August 8th, 2016 at 3:19 pm

North St Bags bike share tote -1.jpg
North St.’s new “Townie Tote” model. It also comes in dark grey.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In just the latest sign that Portland has gone head-over-heels for bike share, a local company has added a Biketown-specific bag to their product line. (more…)

Blazers star CJ McCollum rolls on Biketown (and so have thousands of other people)

by on July 27th, 2016 at 10:28 am

This video, posted to Instagram and Twitter last night by Trail Blazers star guard CJ McCollum, says just about everything you need to know about Portland’s new bike share system: It’s fun, it’s easily accessible which encourages spontaneity (McCollum said his ride was done on an impulse, probably as a celebration of his new contract), it’s considered cool enough for a stylish and respected NBA star to ride (thanks Nike!), and it appeals to a much broader swath of Portlanders than regular old cycling does.

These are just some of the reasons why after just one week, Biketown looks like a huge success that’s making people sing and smile (just like CJ) all over town. In fact, over 7,000 people have taken a Biketown for a ride in the first 7 days.

Here are the latest numbers from Biketown’s operator Motivate Inc as of 2:00 pm yesterday (Tuesday):

Biketown says users will get multiple chances to protect their jury-trial rights

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 22nd, 2016 at 1:26 pm

New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-2.jpg
The new Biketown station at SW 3rd and Oak.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Anyone who acts to protect themselves from a clause buried in the Biketown contract that prompts users to waive their jury-trial rights is protecting themselves permanently, the bike share operator says.

At issue is a “binding arbitration” clause in section 15 of the long rental agreement to which people must agree in order to use the public system. Such clauses, which are designed to prevent class actions and other customer lawsuits, are increasingly common for credit card companies and other corporations but are rare among public bike share systems.

But as we reported Thursday, the contract includes a way for Biketown users to protect themselves: you have to send an email with a particular subject line to a particular email address mentioned in the contract.


Over 2,300 trips taken on Biketown bike share in first 24 hours

by on July 20th, 2016 at 2:29 pm

People are warming up to bike share in Portland.(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

People are warming up to bike share in Portland.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It hasn’t taken long for Portland to embrace bike share. Just 24 hours after it launched yesterday Biketown is already getting lots of praise from users on social media and in the streets. And the initial statistics back up the enthusiasm.

Not everyone is a fan of course, but I’ve visited a few dozen stations already and everyone I’ve talked to has had a positive reaction. Now we have our first glimpse of data to see how the system is doing.

According to numbers released by Biketown’s operator Motivate Inc. today (at our request), there have been 2,366 trips taken on the system since it was launched yesterday at 11:30 am.

Here are the numbers in more detail (as of 11:00 am or so) along with some other fun stats: (more…)

“This is awesome!” Photos and notes from the Biketown launch event

by on July 19th, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Biketown bike share launch-29.jpg
Mayor Charlie Hales and his wife Nancy are followed by a host of other dignitaries including Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield and U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer on the inaugural Biketown ride on the Tilikum Bridge.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“This is awesome!”

Those three words by Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat at the launch event for Biketown summed up many people’s feelings. It is indeed awesome to finally launch a bike share system nearly 10 years after the idea was first hatched.

Today in South Waterfront hundreds of people gathered to mark the occassion. There were the requisite dignitaries, electeds, and advocates. After a few speeches about 150 of them rode across the Tilikum Bridge and back to mark the ceremonial first ride.

Scroll down for photos and notes from the event…

It’s bike share day in Portland. Here are a few things to expect

by on July 19th, 2016 at 9:22 am

Passersby check out the Biketown bikes in the station at SW 5th and Oak.(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Passersby check out the Biketown bikes in the station at SW 5th and Oak.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The day has finally come for bike share to spring forth on the streets of Portland. We have waited nearly 10 years for this (our first post about Portland’s plans for bike share was in February 2007) and now it’s time to take the plunge.

Come on Portland. We can do this!

We’ll be at the launch party this morning and will be tracking any developments and updates as needed. But before the crazy starts, here are few things you can expect to happen today:


Even though the Portland Bureau of Transportation has done their homework and our system (run by Motivate Inc. with bikes by Social Bicycles) is relatively simple, we might see some technical glitches here or there. Keep in mind that we are launching the largest “smart-bike” system in North America (that’s a reference to the fact that the operating software is on each bike instead of at a central server/kiosk). The bikes themselves are pretty bombproof (they even have a shaft-drive which is much more reliable than a chain), but you just never know what might come up.

Will the on-board software work smoothly? How about that new app? The good news is that Biketown is a top priority for PBOT and for Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick so we’re confident they will throw everything they can at making sure the system works — and/or fixing an unforeseen glitches — from the get-go.