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Bike share moves forward: Council authorizes search for operator

Posted by on March 14th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Bike share demo-5-4

It’ll be here sooner than you think.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland City Council authorized the Bureau of Transportation to move forward with a search for a “request for proposals to solicit a private sector operator.”

The action by Council comes just days after PBOT launched their Portland Bike Share website. An interactive map launched as part of the site that allows anyone to suggest a rental station location has gotten a huge response.

In a statement released today, Portland Mayor Sam Adams said bike share, “will be a great addition” to Portland and that it’s a, “simple, attractive alternative to making quick trips by car.”

With $2 million in federal transportation funds already greenlighted for the project by Metro back in December, the City estimates it will need another $2 million or so from private sector partners to build and operate the system. PBOT expects the new system to be up and running by Spring 2013.

This isn’t the first time PBOT has put out a request for proposals (RFP) for a bike share vendor. They cancelled the previous attempt back in 2008 after officials said they needed do “do more analysis.”

In other bike share news, Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share (the bike share wing of Alta Planning + Design) nabbed another massive contract today. After being named vendor of choice for the New York City’s system back in September, the City of Chicago has also chosen Alta.

The next step for PBOT’s bike share project is to release the RFP. That’s expected to happen next week. Stay tuned.

— Browse past bike sharing coverage here.

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  • Dabby March 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm


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  • spare_wheel March 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I am sure the competition for this contract will be fierce.

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  • meh March 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Remember Alta is reselling the Canadian product from Bixi.

    I would prefer to see this go to a US company and if possible more local.

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  • anon1q2w3e4r5t March 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I genuinely believe PBOT needs to continue to “do more analysis” on this. If only I had $2 million ….

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    • NF March 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      Hey anon, you’ve been hinting for a while that this is a bad idea. Care to share your thoughts, or will you just tease us further? Until a year ago, I questioned the value of bike sharing, but the latest systems have been so successful it’s hard to argue against them.

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      • anon1q2w3e4r5t March 15, 2012 at 9:50 am

        I apologize if I come off as teasing, it’s just my way of venting. As much as I would like to share with everyone what I have been working on, I have to wait a few more months. Imagine if local transportation in cities could be fixed within 10 years instead of 20+ years. If such a possibility were realized, it would still be met with resistance, even by those who you thought were on your side. This is just one of many issues that I have to plan for before revealing my work. I just wish the transportation departments of all the cities would hold off for just one more year before making any big commitments to projects such as a bike sharing program.

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        • Elliot March 15, 2012 at 10:45 am

          In the context of roadway projects happening daily all around us as part of every US city’s transportation system, I’d hardly characterize bike share as a “big commitment”. Heck, these systems are so mobile that they take every bike and kiosk off the street and put them in storage for the winter in Boston and Minneapolis.

          Influential and potentially transformative, yes. Big commitment, no.

          And if “This is just one of many issues that I have to plan for before revealing my work” isn’t a tease, I don’t know what is.

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          • anon1q2w3e4r5t March 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm

            “Influential and potentially transformative, yes. Big commitment, no.”

            Ok, so omit the word “big” in my sentence. “Influential and potentially transformative” in this case would be a bad thing.

            “And if [….] isn’t a tease, I don’t know what is.”

            I was just explaining why I can’t reveal what I have been working on. I just find it extremely frustrating that because of these issues I am being prevented from backing up my claims at this time.

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  • dan March 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I’m concerned a solution that’s been rolled out in another city won’t sufficiently address the unique requirements of the Portland metro.

    We require disaffected/tattooed hipster baristas serving locally roasted coffees at our bike share stations (in post-consumer recycled cups, naturally – GoCups, anyone?) We’d like to be able to choose between fixed, singlespeed, and geared, and obviously we’ll need some artisanal local frame choices: Cielo, Vanilla, maybe some own-branded frames from Zen Bikes? For components, obviously only Chris King will do — colorways coordinated with frame paint jobs, if you please.

    And don’t forget cargo bikes! We’ll definitely need some cargo bikes in the mix, possibly with kids and a cargo of groceries pre-loaded for maximum self-satisfaction.

    Non-Alta organizations, please take this to heart when composing your responses to the RFP!

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  • Bjorn March 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    PBOT is not spending 2 million dollars on this, in fact they will be spending no City of Portland money as those 2 million dollars will come from user fees and advertising. The 2 million in federal dollars from Metro is almost certainly very constrained on use so it isn’t like PBOT can just do something else with it, and honestly I’d much rather see this than have another 2 million get flushed into the CRC.

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    • John Mulvey March 15, 2012 at 11:34 am

      It is federal money, but it’s not quite true that they couldn’t have spent it on something else. Google the debates here and elsewhere over the last year –The Mayor and PBOT opted for this project instead of neighborhood safety improvements to SW Barbur Blvd.

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  • Kiel Johnson
    Kiel Johnson March 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    The Chicago system is projected for costing $21 million. What kind of system are we getting for only $4 million? I thought one of the keys for these was to start off big.

    From the article on the Chicago system:

    “City Hall estimates the total capital and start-up costs at $21 million, adding that $18 million will be covered by federal funding aimed at improving air quality and easing traffic congestion and the remaining $3 million will be provided by the city.”

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    • Mia Birk March 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Kiel,
      Chicago’s intiial roll out is for 3000 bikes. Portland is planning to start with 750.

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  • Lance P. March 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I for one am excited. I guess some people are just upset that biking might soon become a lot more mainstream. And that, is a hipster’s worst nightmare.

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    • spare_wheel March 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      So people who would prefer to spend millions on urgently needed upgrades to dangerous infrastructure are the new “hipsters”. Good to know.

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  • Andrew K March 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    My personal hope for this is that it will get enough people to bike, even if only some of the time, that voices will get louder among the general population to improve bike infrastructure and safety.

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  • Raindog March 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Portland is much smaller than chicago. I would expect it to cost much less here…

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  • dwainedibbly March 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Is there anyone here who doesn’t think that Alta, as a local company, has this in the bag already? They have a good product, for sure. (I wish it was a US-product and not Canadian. Where do they manufacture the bikes?) My concern is that this is an emerging industry and there may be other companies with creative solutions what won’t get a fair trial.

    Bike share will be a great way for the “interested but concerned” group to try it out without having to make the investment in a bike.

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    • Sigma March 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Alta is the Stacy/Witbeck of the Portland bike industry. when was the last bike-related contract they didn’t get?

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    • John Mulvey March 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Watch where Sam Adams and Tom Miller end up after next year.

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  • Lois March 15, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I have ridden and/or looked at the systems in approximately a dozen cities in the U.S. and Europe. I also did the side-by-side test rides in Portland last fall. The Alta/Bixi bicycles themselves and the Alta/Bixi administrative technology are the best I’ve seen. Both worked flawlessly every time I used them. The phone app that shows available docking stations and available bikes is fabulous. I’m thrilled to support a Portland-based company and a Canadian company. And I think engaging new riders and getting Average Joe and Everyday Jane on bicycles will be great for cycling.

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  • Paul Johnson March 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Get the big hospitals to sign on, like Legacy or Providence. That’s how the Tulsa Townies manage to do a free bike share.

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  • are March 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    i guess since it’s only federal money i should not care, but if there is a market for this why can’t private money just do it alone?

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