Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

City, Alta Bicycle Share release new estimates for bike share budget

Posted by on December 11th, 2012 at 11:41 am

Bike share ride with Oregon team-1

Getting real about the costs.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

At its meeting tomorrow, Portland City Council is set to authorize the contract with Alta Bicycle Share for our forthcoming bike share system. In advance of that vote, the City has released new cost estimate numbers for the project.

Thanks to new numbers from Alta, we now have much more detailed estimates for both the launch and ongoing operational costs. According to Alta, it will cost $4,599,823 to launch the system (that’s up from initial estimates of about $3.8 – $4 million). Those launch costs break down into $2,589,323 for 75 stations, $827,250 for 750 bicycles* and $1,183,250 to manage the launch.

*That comes out to about $1,100 bucks per bike. If you’re curious what the Portland Bike Share bikes will look like, see the citiBike below. I snapped the photo at the NACTO Designing Cities conference back in October…

Bike share bike

This is what Portland’s bikes will look like. For a more in-depth look, see this Businessweek story.

Alta already has $1.8 million in hand for the launch thanks to a federal grant, so that leaves them with about $2.8 million they need to raise from private and corporate sponsorships.

As for the ongoing operations, Alta estimates it will cost $1,856,550 to operate bike share for the first year. $986,000 in projected user fees and $870,550 in sponsorships will pay for those first year operations. With inflation, operations costs are expected to rise each subsequent year and Alta estimates a total of $10,055,673 will be needed over five years.

While Alta continues to be scrutinized for delays in launching their New York City system, back in October Alta’s Principal Mia Birk told BikePortland that, “we are hopeful for [the Portland launch] next Spring or Summer. As soon as we are able to negotiate a contract we’ll be working with our non-profit partner – Portland Bike Share Inc – to secure private sector system sponsors.”

Stay tuned.

For more info, see the City’s Portland Bike Share website.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Allan December 11, 2012 at 11:55 am

    cost seems high but if you look at per trip it should be a good deal I expect.

    Hopefully we can find a sponsor who will want to stake their rep. on building an awesome system and will want to expand it quickly

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Grant December 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Over $1000 a bike seems really expensive especially considering they’re being purchased in bulk. These don’t appear to be particularly high-end bikes either, does anyone have insight into why they would cost so much?

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • SilkySlim December 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Well, each has GPS for one.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Doug G. December 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      My understanding is that Bixi, which manufactures the bikes, uses parts that only fit their models. That helps deter theft and vandalism since a bike share bike’s parts can not be used on a personal bike. Such specificity might explain the higher cost.

      And the bikes also have more electronic components than a personal bike, such as a GPS transponder.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Bikeshares! December 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    All the numbers in the world doesnt mean their supplier (PBSC) is able to ship out the desired stations and bikes. Portland has to wait in line behind DC, Boston, NYC and Chicago and those outstanding orders.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • mikeybikey December 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I’m very excited to get bike share in Portland, but is it too late to get a do-over on the bikes themselves? They are atrocious. The Denver B-Cycle bikes look much better and they are really nothing spectacular. And that sort of half-rack instead a basket? Sure, SOME bags might not fit in a basket. But ALL bags won’t stay on a rack without something to hold them into place. And ALL loose accessories like phones, keys, hats, gloves, coats, etc. will fall right off/through a rack when a basket would hold them quite nicely. Oh, and is that a derailleur i see? Terrible, Terrible usability decisions IMO.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Case December 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      The thing attached to the top of the rack is a bungee, there are also attachment posts at the bottom of the rack to have securing options depending on what you are carrying. No, you’re not seeing a derailleur, it’s an idler to put tension on the chain, forgoing track style fork ends or an eccentric bb. Also, this isn’t your bike, this is for someone to scoot around town. Do you think people are that vain as to scoff at using one due to looks?

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • MossHops December 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm

        “Do you think people are that vain as to scoff at using one due to looks?”


        Recommended Thumb up 6

    • maxd December 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      The Denver Bikes are a lot more attractive! Do these things have lights?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Greg December 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm

        That is an excellent question. I don’t see lights, which means illegal at 4:30 this time of year.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Harald December 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Bixi user from Montreal here: the front rack thingy works pretty well for a variety of purses etc. The downside of baskets is that they inevitably end up being used as trash bins (Paris has this problem). One problem with Bixi bikes is their shitty fenders. If it’s wet you’ll end up with a stripe on your back — maybe not a huge problem in Montreal, but for Portland it sucks. I really don’t get it how they could get that wrong.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • MossHops December 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    So, I know that this isn’t going to be a popular sentiment on BikePortland, but here goes:

    Bike Share is to bicycles what the street car is to public transit. A sexy idea that is far too compromised for most of the public to use as actual transport.

    I’ll totally cop the the fact that I could be totally misguided on this sentiment, but I am curious about how successful these solutions really are in terms of getting U.S. citizens who otherwise do not ride bikes to do so. What usage data is there for Denver, D.C., etc?

    Recommended Thumb up 23

    • Greg December 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      Here is a short article that links to a research paper on the DC bike share. 1 million rides in less than two years seems pretty good.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Alan 1.0 December 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm

        Not sure what happened to your link, Greg, but it might well be among the many write-ups of bikeshare programs listed here:


        It’s rather odd that so many comments here indicate so little understanding of bikeshare systems, despite many articles and discussions of them, and working examples in many cities. All three that I’ve used have worked well and been popular with both locals and tourists. (And yes, Portland does have tourists. Furrfu. :^)

        Recommended Thumb up 3

  • rain bike December 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    CitiBank Bike, eh? They must be one of the good banks, right?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Rock December 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    opps – that will be almost a million dollars more….

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mhickey December 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I love bikes, but wonder who exactly is this bike-share program supposed to benefit? Homeless people downtown? Downtown business people that otherwise could not afford a bike themselves? Tourists that can’t rent a bike from one of our numerous vendors or simply buy one cheap on craigslist? This looks like a huge waste of money to me.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Eric December 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Some days I ride my bike, some days I have to drive. On the days I have to drive I wish I had my bike during lunch so I could get around quickly during the short time I have. So I’d use it. Also it would be nice to take a bike and be able to leave it some place else and never worry about it again.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Indy December 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Exactly. The city doesn’t have a tourist draw like Chicago/NY/DC, nor really much to see for tourists that is bike inaccessible.

      I’m really curiosu who the target market will be for this program.

      Has anyone done an analysis why they think Bike rental will work this time when free bikes didn’t before? Our bike culture and demographics are different than other cities, also. Color me impressed if this gets pulled off without massive losses.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Kiel Johnson
    Kiel Johnson December 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    i couldn’t help but notice the picture you used. capital bikeshare has 150 station and we are only getting 75?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Indy December 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Kinda wish all this money went towards infrastructure. Bikes are cheap. Maintaining public ones probably ain’t. People care about the bikes they own, so they’re more likely to have them longer. I mean, if anything, have a program to have people work for getting a bike.

    For all the progress we talk about, this city (and state!) is really, really, bike unfriendly. Think about all the risks you take riding anywhere for 5 miles in this city besides dedicated bike paths like Springwater/waterfront.

    This whole project just screams “distraction” to real change for bike progress.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • anon1q2w3e4r5t December 12, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Steve Jobs of the bicycling world is behind this bike sharing program, she’s an expert in bicycling related issues. After all, she has led Portland’s transformation to the country’s most bicycle friendly city, have you no faith in her?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • MossHops December 12, 2012 at 10:00 am

        So when you started with: “Steve Jobs of the bicycling world…” I was assuming that you were being ironic, but reading the rest of your post, I am assuming that you are not, so I will respond to your post seriously (but note that “Steve Job’s of X will always stretch the bounds of credibility).

        Mia Burke has done a whole lot of great things for this city. However, she is now the president of a private company who personally stands to gain from the expansion of bike share programs. This does not necessarily mean that “bike share” is a bad idea, it just means that her opinion on this particular issue should be taken with an exceptional grain of salt.

        Recommended Thumb up 8

        • anon1q2w3e4r5t December 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

          haha, look at the timestamp of my post and then look at the timestamp of my other post in this thread near the bottom. 😉

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • anon1q2w3e4r5t December 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

          Btw, I’ll share a little story with you. When the first iPod came out, I became a fan of Steve Jobs. I mean how could you not? The media put this man on a pedestal for bringing us this revolutionary device. I always wanted to know how he came up with the ideas that went into the iPod such as the scroll wheel. Since the media was giving him all this credit for the iPod, surely he must have contributed to its most significant features. So, when I came upon this article about the iPod, I began reading with excitement because I would finally learn how Steve Jobs came up with the idea of the scroll wheel. After I finished reading that article, I was no longer a fan of Steve Jobs.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jim Lee December 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I would definitely prefer a yellow fixie to a blue one.

    Or, for $1,100 each we could buy everyone a Brompton.

    Either way it would be easy to beat these turkeys!

    I have the same complaint about Mia and Alta that I have about Roger and PBOT: neither has the foggiest understanding of cycling.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Sunny December 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    That’s one giant quick release on the rear wheel.

    Is it too late to make this a scooter share? What tourists go beyond downtown/eastside esplanade anyway? There’s nothing there except the grotto.

    Why can’t a few of these bikes be put into use to see how this system would fare before implementing such an expensive system.

    Let’s bring back the yellow bikes and fill their frames with cement/lead. It’ll be cheaper and just as heavy as these monstrosities.

    It just seems that in our fanatical defense of being number one bike city, we’re pouring money into systems that don’t have a market in our tiny city.

    Maybe the tourists would rather ride the cheaper A2B electric bikes since what tourist wants to break a sweat?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • A.K. December 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      Yes, nothing beyond downtown that would at all interest visitors!

      You know, only:

      1. Mississippi
      2. Alberta
      3. Belmont
      4. Hawthorne
      5. Division
      6. Westmoreland
      7. Eastmoreland
      8. need I go on?

      However, I agree that bikeshare seems to be a bit silly from my POV. However Jonathan used it in DC and seemed to like it, and he saw a lot of others using it too… so I’ll withhold judgement for now.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • MossHops December 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm

        What we really need to do is affix a copy of “hop in the saddle” (http://www.amazon.com/Hop-Saddle-Guide-Portlands-Craft/dp/1621066037) to every bike share bike.

        DUI’s go down, tourism goes up. Good for local business, good for biking.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • A.K. December 12, 2012 at 8:46 am

          Or at least have one available at each rental kiosk… good idea!

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • A.K. December 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm

        Oy, and by Eastmoreland I meant Sellwood. Though getting lost in a neighborhood among a bunch of huge houses and curving streets might be fun for some.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Sunny December 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm

        I don’t see roaming groups of camera-in-hand Asians at those places at all. If there are no large groups of Asians, it’s not a tourist destination worthy of money making attraction appeal.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Greg December 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm

          maybe they just need bikes to get them there. Or maybe the idea that only large groups of Asian people are tourists is just nonsense.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

          • Sunny December 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm

            No, but they have all the money now…Think China, though it used to be Japan.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • A.K. December 12, 2012 at 8:45 am

          Your reply is… questionable at best. What?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Sr. Chilidog December 12, 2012 at 1:08 am

        I don’t know about the average tourist riding a singlespeed from downtown to Belmont, Hawthorne, Mississippi, Alberta, etc?

        I’d also like to know whether the city has considered how this federally funded program will impact existing, locally owned small businesses, specifically bike rental outfits.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

  • tom December 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    your math is incomplete. total cost per bike is $6,130. there are newer technologies which are less than a quarter of that cost.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Alan 1.0 December 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      Imagine the cost of a car if we figured in its share of the entire highway system, gas stations, parking, etc.

      Care to cite actual, comparable and verifiable examples of cheaper systems?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Jim Lee December 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Make that 5 or 6 Bromptons for each Bixi!

    No external racks required–just take them into the workplace.

    Or onto TriMet–no need for racks.

    Imagine 4,000 Bromptons zipping about PDX!

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Niko December 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    My family and I have used these extensively in DC.

    This system is very good and so are the bikes- have lights and are highly adjustable. Affordable and very convenient. In DC and Northern Virginia stations every 3 blocks or so.

    Basically you ride from one station to another near your destination (with 75 it is likely there will be one nearby).

    30 minutes free with membership. After that it is pretty cheap too.

    The biggest problem is when they roll out the program you get to your destination and the station is full. In that case theres no way to turn in the bike. As the program settles in it will be key to have many stations close to each other. Think starbucks level saturation…

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • anon1q2w3e4r5t December 12, 2012 at 2:24 am

    2013 = Beginning of THE END for bike sharing, particularly in the US.

    $4,600,000+ is going to be wasted on this Portland bike sharing program. I’m going to rub it in real hard when the time comes. It’s not just the money either, time is a factor too. 5+ years is quite a long time.

    There are people who care about livable cities/streets, and there are people who care about livable cities/streets even more.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Andrew Seger December 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Look at this compared to the streetcar. For a tiny fraction of the cost you get more mobility. Bikeshare should be seen as short range public transit. I bet in 5 years bikeshare is both wildly successful in Portland and has expanded to at least one of the suburban cities.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • anon1q2w3e4r5t December 13, 2012 at 11:32 am

        I hear you, but you’re going to lose that bet because I have a royal flush. Not just a royal flush, a royal flush of hearts. Have you ever seen a royal flush of hearts? You will in 2013.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul g December 12, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I agree and disagree. Bike sharing will continue to be viable in cities with high density and with heavy levels of mass transit commuters. NYC and DC come to mind. Or cities with a lot of convention and tourist traffic and relatively compact and flat downtowns. Denver perhaps?

    But as a user of bike shares in both Paris (as a tourist) and DC (as a business visitor and tourist), neither of these apply to Portland. The number of daily downtown short term users is too small to support the infrastructure being proposed. There can be usage during the high tourist season along the Waterfront and near east/west sides, but that could be managed with commercial facilities or a small number of facilities near the waterfront.

    Few if any tourists on a large scale are going to use a bike share program to schlep to Mississippi Ave (too hilly for these heavy bikes), Belmont/division (bike ride for the typical visitor to eat a nice meal? Shop for antiques? No one goes to snap photos on Belmont.)

    The vast majority of tourists here still will rent a car and do the easy 15 minute drive in from airport, these same visitors will drive to these same outlying areas.

    We are not DC or NYC or Paris and anyone who mentions a bike program for those cities with Portland in the same breath is just being naive.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Evan Manvel December 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Dang that launch is expensive. It’s one one-thousandth of the cost of the CRC mega-highway boondoggle…

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • spare_wheel December 13, 2012 at 8:00 am

      a single hawk ped/bike signal costs ~$100,000. how many peds have died in outer pdx this year?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • julie December 12, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Do the Portland bikes include rain gear for members during the nine months of the year it rains here?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • spare_wheel December 13, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Copenhagen recently shut down its bike share system.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • anon1q2w3e4r5t December 13, 2012 at 11:36 am

      I believe this is incorrect. They shut down their old system, but plan on launching a newer system.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • spare_wheel December 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm

        it was cancelled and there is no only a small demonstration project:


        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • anon1q2w3e4r5t December 14, 2012 at 9:01 am

          Ok I read that article, which pretty much backs up what I said before. They canceled the old system, and are “planning” to launch a newer system starting with the 1 year pilot program.

          Recommended Thumb up 0