Unlike other projects that the City of Portland has been accused of rushing into (the Sauvie Island Bridge relocation attempt and the Lents/Memorial Coliseum baseball debacle come to mind), no one can ever say that they moved too quickly on bike-sharing.
It was back in February of 2007 that we first reported that the City of Portland was looking into a bike-sharing system. After putting out an official Request for Proposals, the City was close to finding a vendor, but ultimately canceled their search last summer.
All the while, then Commissioner (now Mayor) Sam Adams’ office maintained that they were still interested in bike-sharing, but realized they needed to learn more before making a decision.
Back in November of last year, Sam Adams’ Chief of Staff Tom Miller learned more about bike-sharing during a work trip to Stockholm and shared his findings in a six-part series published here on BikePortland.
Miller wrote that his experience in Stockholm was “enlightening” and that Portland’s “time will come.”
Now comes word from the Bureau of Transportation that they are re-opening the bike-sharing dialogue. PBOT plans to host two “public bike sharing demonstrations” in August. The first one, on August 14th, will be held mid-day at Waterfront Park. The second one will be part of the Sunday Parkways event coming to Southeast Portland on August 16th.
In a statement about the demonstrations, Mayor Adams said,
“We are conducting this demonstration in part to see if bike-sharing is a necessary ingredient for Portland to become a world class bicycling city. Bike sharing is an exciting concept that has shown promise in Europe. But given the expense of these systems, I want Portland to move forward prudently and with as much information as possible.”
So far in North America, only Washington DC and Montreal, Quebec have what PBOT refers to as the “latest iteration of bike sharing systems” in place.
In DC, Clear Channel has launched “SmartBike DC” which, according to The Bike-sharing Blog, has a total of 120 bikes and around 1,000 members signed up since it launched last summer.
In Montreal, city officials created their own system from the ground up. Dubbed “Bixi“, the Montreal system, which launched back in May, is by far the most ambitious in North America and features 3,000 bikes at 300 stations in that city’s downtown core.
Steve Hoyt-McBeth, the PBOT staffer in charge of the bike-sharing project says he has a tentative agreement from Montreal officials to bring their Bixi system down for the demonstration. Other vendors he hopes to get in front of Portlanders are bCycle, the partnership between Humana and Trek (formerly known as Freewheelin’), Clear Channel, Veloway from France, and others.
PBOT has put out an official Request for Information. You can read it here.
Hoyt-McBeth says the demonstrations will be used to gauge not only people’s preference for how the different systems and bikes work, but to find out if Portlanders feel bike-sharing is something that would work in Portland. It’s likely that Adams wants to make headway on the bike-sharing project so that any decisions can be woven into the Bicycle Master Plan which is slated to go in front of the Planning Commission on August 25th and be adopted by City Council in October.
Hoyt-McBeth will make a presentation about bike-sharing in Portland at a Brown Bag Discussion at the Portland Building on July 16th. More details on that event here.
— Browse our bike-sharing category page for all our previous coverage.