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Portland cancels search for bike-sharing vendor

Posted by on June 26th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Portland will have to wait for a bike-sharing program
like this one in Vienna.
Photo: Ethan Jewett

The process to select a vendor that would implement a public bike-sharing system in Portland has been canceled.

In a letter just released by the City of Portland’s Office of Management and Finance, Purchasing Agent Jeffrey Baer writes:

“In accordance with Portland City Code 5.33.660, this project has been canceled in its entirety with no award or contracts resulting from the solicitation. All proposal responses will be maintained as part of the project file (reference PCC 6.33.670.B).”

I have calls into several people asking for more details, but have yet to hear back.

News of Portland’s plans to implement a bike-sharing system first came to light back in February of 2007 and a request for proposals was sent out a few months later.

Back in November, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Purchasing reported that they had narrowed down their selection to three vendors: Clear Channel Outdoor, The Portland Bike Company, and Library Bikes. A selection was supposed to be made shortly thereafter, but that decision was delayed so members of a selection committee could have more time to deliberate.

In April of this year, an executive from a Clear Channel told me that, “We believe that Portland is an ideal candidate for it” (I suspected that Clear Channel was the front-runner for Portland’s program, but was never able to confirm it).

Also in April, Washington D.C. and Clear Channel announced that they had embarked on the first large-scale bike-sharing system in the U.S. However, after much media fanfare about the launch, the bikes are still not available (boxes remain over the partially-installed kiosks) and skepticism is growing as to the cause of the delay.

See all my previous coverage of this story here.

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  • Red Hippie June 26, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Rode the Max today with my bike.

    A fellow on the train told me how he had to adjust his hours since he is being forced off the train (due to his bike) during rush hours. He was told that ridership was so high, that TriMet is tring to maximize train space. Seems like the bike rentals would have been a partial solution to the lack of bike space. Maybe Trimet could pursue this as an adjunct of their train and bus fleet.

    Think of it. Door to door with a two zone pass.

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  • Schrauf June 26, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Interesting. The excuse will probably end up being the cost to execute such a program, but how much would it cost the City (us) when there is a contract with a private company? And would the resulting increased tourism dollars offset the cost (if any) to the City?

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  • maxadders June 26, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    This is too bad. Public bikes would be excellent for visitors and commuters alike. I remember a few years ago when I first visited Portland, I considered renting a bike but found it too expensive (I also nearly ended up buying a clunker off craigslist and then just donating it on my way out of town). A program like this would have been nearly ideal!

    Adding bikes to Trimet\’s fleet would also prove excellent, especially with the recent surge of ridership and increased ticketing of bikes unable to be stored on the limited number of MAX hooks.

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  • gabriel amadeus June 26, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    This is too bad. DC just got theirs off the ground. The District of Columbia program is starting small, with just 10 stations and 120 bikes.

    And Montreal is well on its way to becoming Canada\’s first with 2,400 bikes and 300 stations by the spring of 2009. It also has a really sweet website:

    Here is a map mash-up detailing all the bike sharing programs and possibilities in the world:

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  • Bob June 26, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Once bitten, twice shy — with the MetroFi project being such a smashing success, I\’m sure the city was banking on another public-private home run here.

    What\’s a shame is that unlike public Wi-Fi, a bike-sharing network would have worked beautifully here.

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  • Evan June 26, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Isn\’t Clear Channel the company we\’ve had so many problems with because of idiot DJs who promote violence against cyclists?

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  • Bill June 26, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Library Bikes still has a dozens public bikes for Portland, we brought them to the West Coast from Paris for a trial run. We expect to open a public bikes system anyway, with others support. The interest in having the french \’Roue Libre\’ public bikes in Portland has been strong. will continue to offer this fleet in other ways in Portland. At the CarFree conference we provided bikes for 46 rentals, some folks even used them on the Naked Bike Ride. If folks want to use them now the Jupiter Hotel has the Roue Libre bikes available to rent to anyone – they call them \”Ride Me\” bikes!
    If you want to subscribe to a Library Bikes system email Librarybike@gmail
    More later,

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  • mmann June 26, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    My guess: someone wanted a tax break or some other front money from the city and the city said nada. Maybe.

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  • Moo June 27, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Does the city really need to be involved in this anyway? Sounds like it can become a viable business for someone/somebody, with the same amount of risk as any other business.

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  • Paul Souders June 27, 2008 at 9:02 am

    @Moo (#9)

    I think this is where Library Bikes is headed, albeit not for profit

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  • Clarence June 27, 2008 at 9:27 am

    We\’ve been waiting to cover the D.C. launch and go do a Streetfilm, but there is almost no info on it.

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  • Cøyøte June 27, 2008 at 10:18 am

    I\’m not sure I want to rent a bike that has been on the naked bike ride? I probably sound like a prude, but it is just the way I am wired.

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  • Meep June 27, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Despite high bike theft, I\’m not sure why Portland hasn\’t tried the method that the last town I lived in did – the local bike co-op refurbished a bunch of bikes, painted them eye-gouging green, and left them lying around downtown. It\’s worth a shot…

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  • Paul Tay June 27, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Tulsa\’s version of bike-share.

    The shortage of bike parking is ANNOYING. Probably a good problem to have. Even the street sign posts are filled up. How \’bout ads on more bike parking racks? Naaaaah. Forget it.

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  • Pete June 27, 2008 at 10:31 am

    It must be because Vehicle Miles Traveled is down and gas tax funding has dried up. Quick, everybody drive more!!

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  • Jeff P June 27, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Meep #13

    Portland had it\’s Yellow Bikes – at least twice in fact. Each time more bikes ended up in the river than on the streets.

    Free to take and leave. Nice concept but people ruin it.

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  • maxadders June 27, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Yeah, I grew up in Madison, WI and saw a yellow bike program fail there. The idea was \”if you need to lock it, use a shoelace\” so someone else can pick it up wherever and use it. But that didn\’t work for long– they ended up either in the lakes or hastily repainted for private use.

    Another, more successful program (run by a local bike shop) offered a free red-paint-slathered bike and u-lock for a $20 deposit. This worked great for exchange students, who could just drop it off at the end of the semester…and the bike shop would get all the business from any needed repairs.

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  • Chris July 7, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Hello, I was wondering if anybody had a copy of Jeffrey Baer\’s letter canceling the search.

    In a perfect world I would also love to see the data that influenced the cancelation of the search.

    I am in the beginning stages of a cost/benefit analysis of creating a similar program to Eugene.
    Any information would help. Thanks.

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  • Stephen Mikesell July 11, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    The red bike program mentioned above is still working fine in Madison, Wisconsin, and it is very popular. Except I think it is a $50 deposit, which is significant enough to encourage returning the bike and lock at the end of the semester.

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  • […] Create a public bike sharing program. Bike sharing has worked in Europe and might even be catching on in the United States.Vancouver is a city that could make this work and perhaps learn enough to help start programs in Seattle and persuade Portland to restart the program they put on hold last year. […]

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