Bike Share Series, Part Six: The outlook for bike share in Portland

Tom Miller
(Photo © J. Maus)

Welcome to the final installment of our guest article series on bike sharing in Portland.

The series is written by Tom Miller, chief of staff for Portland City Commissioner and Mayor-elect Sam Adams. Yesterday, Tom laid out asked some of the questions that must be answered in order for Portland to make the right decision about a bike share system.

In today’s article, Tom surveys existing efforts in the U.S. and concludes the series with a quote from Portland’s future mayor.

Part Six: The outlook for bike share in Portland
Humana, a health care insurance provider, has partnered with Trek Bicycles to launch what they call a fourth generation (more technology) system. I’ve had conversations with both Trek and Humana representatives. Their system isn’t on the streets yet, but conceptually it seems to resolve many of the logistical challenges we experienced in Stockholm.

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“With limited public dollars to address daunting public needs we will move carefully on bike share.”

If we had a funding model that didn’t require public dollars, we know Portlanders would overwhelmingly support a grand bike share experiment and we would likely move quickly. Our first generation efforts at public Wi-Fi didn’t yield the outcome we had hoped for, but people appreciate the city’s effort.

After all, the taxpayer investment was negligible. But with limited public dollars to address daunting public needs we will move carefully on bike share.

Washington DC has their program, already under fire for being too small. Albuquerque may be the next city; they aim for 500 bikes. We’ll see if they can buck the trend and master a modest initial roll-out. Other cities will no doubt follow. New York City’s density, tight living quarters (no room to store bikes), and new aggressive approach to humanizing its streets seem to make it tailor-made to be the world’s greatest bike share success story.

“I am convinced Portlanders would embrace a good system,” said Mayor-elect Adams. “The Stockholm experience was enlightening. There is a lot to think about to get this right. Our time will come.”

This is the final article in our series. Here is a list of the others:

  • Part One: Bike share in Portland; a status report
  • Part Two: Off to Scandinavia
  • Part Three: Lessons from Stockholm
  • Part Four: What’s at stake for Portland?
  • Part Five: Questions to answer if we want to “get it right”
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    15 years ago

    Sounds like an impossible task: The system must be large enough to be ubiquitous; high tech and user friendly; not use public money, nor be supported be by advertising. In short, it is an alchemists task that cannot be completed. (Besides, the whole Styrofoam hat issue was skipped over, and that will be huge in Portland.)

    Next up – clean coal and magic batteries.

    Greg Matthews
    15 years ago

    It is going to be really interesting to watch the growth of bikesharing over the next few years . . . we at Humana are really excited about our program, which we believe has the ability to be “sustainable” financially and environmentally even in smaller communities . . . thanks for the thoughtful series. It’s good to know that Portland is taking this so seriously; hope that other communities are paying attention!

    John Climaldi
    15 years ago

    The Bike Share Series was really interesting, thanks!. I am working with Momentum MultiSport on a Bike Share system for the Honolulu area (b-Cycle), and we have even more hurdles then PDX. Being a Portland native that has been transplanted to Honolulu, Hi., I find it interesting that both cities have the same concerns and are contemplating the same type of system! We plan on rolling out the pilot system on private property first, and have responsible companies that have committed a physical space for the stations as well as capital to fund the system. There will be no advertising, and the companies involved just want to make Honolulu a better place to live, and do their part to achieve that goal. Our proposal was featured in our local paper at

    Aloha, John C

    15 years ago

    Ok where is this? Denver and Austin is already on board, where is Portland? All I see is a lot of talk. please see