John Chilson, the local urban history buff behind the Lost Oregon blog, has shared some excellent and rare footage of Portland’s Yellow Bike program.
The Yellow Bike program (Wikipedia) was Portland’s innovative experiment in community bike sharing that was launched in 1994. These days it’s often brought up in the same breath with our more modern attempt at bike-sharing; but as you can see in the short video below, the Yellow Bike program was decidedly low-tech and had almost nothing in common with today’s systems.
With the help of volunteers at the Community Cycling Center, the Yellow Bike program consisted of hundreds of cheap city bikes that were simply painted yellow and set out for public use along with a sign that read: “Free community bike. Please return to a major street for others to reuse. Use at your own risk.” It was a classic example of what The New York Times referred to in December 1994 as Portland’s “urban whimsy.” (more…)