The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

’20s Bikeway’ is an ideal artery for bike sharing, calculations show

Posted by on December 17th, 2013 at 10:38 am

Bike corral on SE 28th at Ankeny-10

Bike traffic is already healthy at SE 28th and Ankeny.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

Buried in Portland’s new application for $2.5 million to expand its proposed bike sharing system into Portland’s eastside neighborhoods is a bit of analysis worth noting.

According to modeling prepared early last year by Alta Bicycle Share, the commercial spine of the 20s bikeway project, between NE Sandy and SE Clinton, is cut out to be one of the city’s best areas for bicycle sharing outside downtown.

It’s a calculation that raises the stakes somewhat for this much-discussed project, since a successful bike share system depends on creating bikeways that appeal to people who don’t frequently ride.

Alta’s models, which are informed by five years of usage data from cities that have bike sharing, are based on the density of jobs, residents, transit service, intersections and relatively flat terrain.

Based on those factors, Alta figured that ideal places for bike share stations would be the intersections of 28th, 27th and 26th avenues with Glisan, Burnside, Stark, Belmont, Hawthorne and Clinton. That’d be enough to make the district one of the biggest bike sharing hubs east of the Willamette, even better-suited to bike sharing trips than spots like North Mississippi, Northeast Alberta and Southeast Division.

A conceptual map of the locations of future bikesharing stations. The station locations here are based only on Alta’s calculation of suitability for bike sharing, not on actual city plans.

Though bike sharing stations require street space, they increase a street’s total parking capacity, since 11 bike parking spots take up the space required for two car parking spots.

In a 2011 survey of members of Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare, 82 percent said they’re more likely to patronize businesses near bike share stations.

City bikeshare specialist Steve Hoyt-McBeth noted that the station mapping used in the new grant application (made public by Willamette Week) was “Alta’s exercise” and hasn’t been discussed by city planners.

“If awarded the Connect Oregon grant, bike share would serve these neighborhood commercial districts, but the actual station locations have not been determined,” Hoyt-McBeth wrote in an email Monday. “There will be many factors that determine the actual location of bike share stations.”

Here’s a PDF of the city’s grant application to the state’s highly competitive Connect Oregon program.

A station that holds up to 11 shared bicycles is about 40 feet long. If the city can secure a private sponsor, something Commissioner Steve Novick suggested might be announced “hopefully within the next six weeks” in a conversation with the Mercury last week, it hopes to find locations for about 75 stations around the city, mostly in the downtown area, holding 750 shared bikes.

That’d be the first phase of bike sharing in Portland. The city’s new grant proposal would make the second phase possible: another 30 stations and 300 bikes, mostly in neighborhood commercial districts on the near east side — including the 28th Avenue area.

If approved, the bike sharing expansion could take some pressure off the rising demand for on-street auto parking in the area, because people who live in the big apartments going up nearby would be able to bike almost anywhere in the central city for free as long as they own a bikeshare membership. As we reported in September, memberships are likely to cost about $75 a year.

It will be interesting to see how/if the expected Portland bike share system will impact planning decisions on major projects like the 20s bikeway. Stay tuned.

Correction 12:30 pm: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of cars that can park in a 40-foot space.

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  • Andrew Seger December 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

    That map is eye opening. A couple of thoughts:
    Bike share is really cheap! $2.5 million for capitol costs on 30 stations is pretty darn good. To beat a dead horse: that’s less than the cost of one streetcar ($3.5 million

    Also, we really haven’t built bike infrastructure where the demand is. Look at all those dots along roads with nothing for bikes. It looks like Williams has a few stations and Clinton. By some strange coincidence they’re also the rare bikeways with retail and businesses along them.

    Finally, if Foster does get bike lanes it does raise the question of why Lents wouldn’t get bikeshare at the same time.Time to figure out if Bikeshare in low-density neighborhoods near a high quality/frequency transit would work.

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    • davemess December 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      i’m really having trouble figuring out why Reed and UP don’t have any stations (I would think colleges would be a slam dunk for bike share (based on what I saw in Minneapolis at UM)). Frustrating to see the east side completely unserved east of 35th or so (phase one is even worse as it looks to only go to 12th). Especially considering that the 2nd phase goes as far out as Killingsworth!

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      • Reza December 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm

        Simple, really…the legacy streetcar suburb neighborhoods of the Eastside are not well suited for bikeshare. You don’t have that demand for spontaneous trips like you would in downtown, NW, Lloyd, Central Eastside. Places with real density (or at least potential for upzoning) and and an employment base.

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        • davemess December 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

          But it can also be used for commuting and not just “spontaneous” trips.

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        • gutterbunnybikes December 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm

          You do realize that nearly every neighborhood you named have some of the smallest resident populations in the city.

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    • Reza December 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Right…the streetcar you don’t consider a mode of “transportation”.

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      • Andrew Seger December 17, 2013 at 12:49 pm

        I bring it up merely as a cost comparison. Is it better to spend $3.5 million for a sixth streetcar or for 45 bikeshare stations?

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        • Humongous Ed December 17, 2013 at 8:08 pm

          I would guess that they’d carry about the same number of people. If, On average throughout the day, if 1 bike from each bikeshare station is being used, that would be equivalent to one streetcar carrying an average of 45 people. I’m just guessing at those numbers but they sound reasonable.

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      • chris December 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

        Taking the streetcar is slower than walking.

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  • Erinne December 17, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Too bad PBOT’s already effing up the 20’s bikeway by plowing forward with the plan they want, instead of what would be a great design or what stakeholders suggest.

    Also, I’m not convinced we’re ever even going to get bike share v.1. They obviously have no sponsors in site, or we’d have heard something about it.

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    • Todd Hudson December 17, 2013 at 11:37 am

      To be fair, stakeholders represent the entire community and not just people that favor a bike artery.

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      • Erinne December 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm

        That doesn’t change my comment.

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    • Unit December 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      I don’t think it’s fair to equate PBOT listening to/considering community input with effing up the bikeway. Sounds to me like learning from the approach highway builders took in the 1960s (i.e. plowing through neighborhoods without considering their input is not a great idea).

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      • Erinne December 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm

        You don’t know the details. PBOT convened meetings for stakeholders, but has disregarded anything that was suggested that wasn’t in their original plan.

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    • Unit December 17, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      I’d also point out that PBOT is DOING the 20s bikeway. It was their idea. They started it. They will finish it. Despite the impossible positions they seem to get put in by the my-way-or-the-highway crowd. If doing projects that the nieghborhood likes is effing them up, then PBOT can ef up my neighborhood any day.

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  • Carl December 17, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Point of clarification: early in the article, it says “11 bike parking spots take up the space required for four car parking spots” — but later it says “A station that holds up to 11 shared bicycles is about 40 feet long.”

    So a car parking space is only 10 ft long now?

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  • Babygorilla December 17, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I read the application for the bike share grant. Question 14 is answered that funds are “secured” and “available now” for the initial start up costs and explains that “private sponsorship are secured and available before the initial system launch in 2014.”

    This seems contrary to the Mercury post on 12/9, where Mr. Novik states “I think we’re going to have serious commitments from people who do have the money.”

    Secured and available now and I think are not the same. Either the private sponsorship funds are secured and available (and I would think that PBOT would make an announcement of this fact) or they are not.

    I don’t doubt that funds and commitments are in the pipeline and don’t really doubt that sponsorship funds will come through, but why not state that in the application?

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  • BURR December 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    So the city is willing to put bike share stations on all the east-west arterials in inner southeast but at the same time is unwilling to put even minimal on-street bike facilities on these same arterials? Welcome to Portland!

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) December 17, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      This isn’t to contradict the sentiment above, but the map doesn’t show anything about the city’s willingness, only Alta’s calculations of where bike share stations would be most popular. I don’t think Alta’s feasibility formula takes bike infrastructure locations into account, though I could be wrong.

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  • Mike December 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I’m probably thick… but I still don’t get the point of bike share for locals.

    The problem is not that locals (especially the 50% “interested but concerned” demographic) don’t have access to bikes (a sturdy one that can be acquired and maintained for less than $75 per year is easily obtained in this land of bike shops), but is instead the LACK OF APPROPRIATE SAFE INFRASTRUCTURE to turn “concerned” into “supported”.

    Here’s a wild idea — instead of spending $2.5 million on hardware that’s just going to get vandalized (see Paris’ woes with their Velib system here:, let’s spend it instead on the 20s Bikeway Project.

    What am I missing?

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    • Matt F December 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      100% agreed. I still don’t get the bike share system at all really. Who uses it?

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      • Chris I December 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm

        People that want to ride but don’t want to have to worry about caring for a bike. People that take transit into the city and want to ride for side trips without hauling their bike on the train. Those are a few I can think of.

        Given the success of Bikeshare in the rest of the U.S. and Europe, I think the burden of proof falls more on the detractors to prove why Portland is different, and bikeshare won’t work here.

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      • Todd Hudson December 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

        Young white affluent people, that’s who! At least according to a recent story on NPR.

        Low income people apparently aren’t attracted to bikeshare. And a lot of low-income people don’t have credit/debit cards – how the hell are they going to use bikeshare?

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        • Esther December 17, 2013 at 4:21 pm

          In my recent experience using Citibike (as a young whiteish upwardly mobile person), I found it was an excellent replacement for long walks or multiple-transit-connections (i.e. I could Citibike in 10 minutes what would have taken 2 subway connections or a 25 minute walk).

          As someone who grow up lower-income and public-transit-dependent (including a 2-bus each-way trip to get to elementary school), I see huge *potential* (potential being the key word here) for it to be an asset to all kinds of people. However, as you state, the issue for people who are unbanked is a big one.

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      • davemess December 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

        Commuters in DC have used it as well. Some people like the idea of not having to own the bike and lug it up steps to your apartment or worry about maintenance, or how/where to lock it properly.
        And tourists too.

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        • BURR December 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

          cities like New York, Paris, Barcelona, D.C., etc are all much higher density cities with correspondingly limited living space available for bike storage, so it would seem like those cities have a higher opportunity factor for public bike share than Portland, where pretty much everyone who wants to bicycle generally has more than enough storage space for their own personal bike, and often owns multiple bicycles. In London, where bike share isn’t quite as successful, despite high density, many commuters have folding bikes.

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    • Jayson December 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      Most people do have a bike. The problem is they may not feel comfortable taking it from home to wherever they’re going. However, once they get someplace comfortable – most inner Portland neighborhoods, for example – they might be more inclined to take advantage of a bikeshare. At least I would.

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    • Reza December 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      It’s all about increasing travel options. Bikeshare in theory offers flexibility for locals who, for example, want to ride in the morning but for whatever reason decide to take transit, or Car2Go back in the evening. Maybe they’re running errands after work, maybe it’s raining, maybe they don’t want to bike uphill, which gets into issues regarding redistribution of bikes.

      They’re also good for people who don’t commute regularly by bike who want to run errands during the day but need to cover more ground than in the same time it would take to walk or take transit that distance.

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      • Mike December 17, 2013 at 1:14 pm

        I get the “travel options” argument… if we think the “multimodal commute” (bike share to transit to work downtown; bike share to lunch; then CarToGo to errands to home through the rain) will really be a *thing* (at least for those lucky enough to live in the inner PDX core).

        Meanwhile, it pains me to see lasting bikeway improvements stunted by inadequate funding.


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        • davemess December 17, 2013 at 2:03 pm

          But if much of the bike share funding is coming from the private sector (or different government grants) it’s not really an either/or scenario.

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          • Mike December 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm

            Daveness… I hope you’re right.

            It looks like bike share phase 1 is in the bag and fully funded for the “test ride” in the downtown core. Although I have my own suspicions about its ultimate success, it’s seems worth doing the experiment, since many commenters here have generated compelling thought experiments for how they’d use it. And it seems to be working for *some* demographics in other cities.

            What raises my hackles is that Novick is making a play for more public money for phase 2, even before phase 1 has been evaluated.

            IMHO, it seems that bikeways have already been proven effective. We just lack adequate funding to build more of them through areas that people currently use their cars to get to. It’s all about balance is spending those limited $$s.

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  • Jayson December 17, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I’m a local and I would benefit from bikeshare. I don’t bike around town much for a variety of reasons, but I love to bike. biking from home to work is a little too far for my taste, but it would be great to have bikes close to work (i’m downtown) so that I could make short trips to the eastside on bike. Also, I’d be more inclined to take MAX to stations a little further out if I had bike share access available.

    Instead of bikeshares every 5 blocks in inner SE Portland where most everyone has a bike easily accessible, why not provide bike shares at all the the Yellow Line stations (up to Kenton) and at least the Hollywood and 60th Ave stations. Also, what about the new Bybee station? There’s a bike lane on that street and 17th Ave is a little bit of a hike for some people. A bikeshare system would increase the reach of the MAX system so much more for basic transportation trips. 🙂

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  • J_R December 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I think the potential for bike share is much less than predicted by some. But in answer to the question about whether locals would use bike share, I’ll give you an example of when I might. When I worked downtown and carpooled to work instead of biking, due to weather, I might still be willing to use bike share during my lunch hour to do errands or find lunch. It depends on the cost of bike share. I used to use transit in the downtown free zone for that purpose, but with that free zone eliminated, I might opt for bike share.

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  • Mike December 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Jayson… I hadn’t considered your perspective.

    But I often do what you propose… use MAX and a bike together as a force multiplier (ride my bike to MAX, hop on, zip to Station X, hop off, keep riding).

    I don’t need bike share to do this.


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    • Jessica Roberts
      Jessica Roberts December 17, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Mike, I actually think your point supports the need and potential for bikeshare. When I started biking in Portland back in 1995, you really could count on adding bike to any transit trip. But these days, the bike-on-bus and bike-on-MAX system is breaking down and becoming unreliable because more people want to do it than the system can accommodate. I have heard Westside employers complain that their bike+MAX employees are often late because they had to wait through multiple trains until there was one with room for a bike.

      Bike on transit is sort of an adolescent phase for mobility, I think. It’s great, and I will always consider it part of the mix, but when you can no longer rely on it for every trip when you might need it, it’s time for more sophisticated and flexible options.

      I ride my bike for most trips, most places, but as I have become more familiar with how urban bikeshare systems work, I have started to see plenty of trips where I’d love to take advantage of such a system once it’s installed. I could perfectly reasonably think of a day where I take the bus to work, Car2Go to a meeting, bikeshare to run an errand, and carpool back home.

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      • gutterbunnybikes December 17, 2013 at 9:05 pm

        The problem with your point is that there is no plans for bikeshare at the Max stations, other than Downtown and inner core.

        It aint gunna help anyone in the burbs/outter parts of the city one bit.

        I always figured that the stations would first be at all the Max stations – really it’s kind of a no brainer. And also the college campuses inclucing the PCC campuses (or at least the ones on the North and East side).

        I personally don’t have a dog in this fight – I wont subscribe I got a couple bikes in the barn so I don’t see the need, though I do think that the program isn’t being though out very well (like not putting a station at each Max station/Campus first) and that it will probably fail – not because it isn’t useful. But becasue of poor planning – like pairing it with the yet to be seen sucess of the 20’s bike path.

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        • Jayson December 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

          Agreed. It’s a huge, missed opportunity if MAX stations are left out of this bike share. At first I thought TriMet should pay for these, but why have a separate system or take funds from bus and MAX operations. This should be the City working with TriMet to make this happen. Why on earth the City would neglect to introduce bikeshare to places where 1000’s of commuters and transit users are concentrated each day boggles my mind

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          • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
            Michael Andersen (News Editor) December 18, 2013 at 10:11 am

            I’m not sure I understand your argument, guys – these maps propose a bikeshare station adjacent to every MAX station in the bikeshare service area, including the planned Orange Line stations. Are you saying there should be one bikeshare station each at Sunset, Hollywood, 60th and Gateway? What’d be the point of that? You need one bikeshare station at the transit stop and another at the final destination, or the station will be useful to almost nobody.

            I’m not saying this design is perfect, but (absent a lot more money to put stations throughout the city, or much lower cost) I don’t understand what you’re saying the city should do that Alta’s not already recommending here.

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            • davemess December 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm

              I think it all comes back to the scope Michael. In reality this is not going to be used by anyone who doesn’t live downtown/central eastside or works in those places. I think we’ve suggesting having a few more stations at further out max stations. Like 4-5 stations centered around the Lents MAX stop. 4-5 stations centered around Hollywood. Etc.

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              • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
                Michael Andersen (News Editor) December 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm

                OK, I got it.

                I agree that this system mostly serves people who live or work in the service area. Since more than 100,000 people commute into the proposed phase 1 bike share service area, and since our regional and city goals are to vastly increase this number without increasing the amount of land dedicated to transportation, focusing a tool on the central city that we know works well in central cities doesn’t seem like a dumb idea to me, personally. I realize many don’t agree.

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              • davemess December 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm

                I can see that it makes sense to start with it being centralized. I think many have just grown tired of the fact that the central city seems to get most of the improvements to Portland.

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        • davemess December 18, 2013 at 9:56 am

          Yes, NiceRide in Minneapolis has stations that parallel their light rail almost all the way out to the airport. It’s a great tandem.

          I think many cities and probably including Portland view bikeshare as competition for public transit. Like bikeshare will take away TRIMET riders. I was very disappointed in lack of integration of the two when I was in Minneapolis (ie. no bike stations listed on the transit maps).

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    • Jayson December 18, 2013 at 8:56 am

      I ride the bus and light rail every day. I feel uncomfortable towing along a 50lb bike on public transit because the trains and buses are crowded. It’s hard to get a bike on and off a max train during the work commute periods and it’s a hassle to get on and off a busy bus from the back, remember you have a bike onboard, yell at the operator to wait for you to get your bike off, etc. I don’t mind doing the bike on transit in off-peak periods, but it’s really not convenient for most of my travel. Also, I live just a few blocks from my bus/max connections to work and I work a few blocks from where they get off. I don’t need to haul a bike as part of my commute. This is where bikeshare will help me out.

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  • CaptainKarma December 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Bike-share will remove incentive for fixing bike plus transit, which is a far better model for commuting if there was capacity.

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    • Jessica Roberts
      Jessica Roberts December 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      CaptainKarma, bike plus transit cannot be “fixed” when demand for bikes on vehicles vastly (like, order of magnitude) exceeds the actual physical capacity of the vehicles. Unless you can convince TriMet that their new mission is to transport bikes at the opportunity cost of transporting people, you just can’t fit ten bikes on a bus, or twenty on a MAX.

      It’s more a problem of physics than it is politics. Perhaps this is why Denmark and Holland focus on bike sharing from transit stops, and “station bikes” at each end of a journey, rather than trying to accommodate all users who connect by bike on the vehicle.

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    • el timito December 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      except that you will never get that capacity, not in a serious way. MAX is limited to 2-car trains by Portland’s short blocks downtown (or by a lack of underground tunnels, take your pick). TriMet’s job is moving people, not moving vehicles. Reducing the number of non-biked-people spaces for the benefit of biked-people spaces is a non-starter.
      And busses? Even less options to increase capacity.
      There’s a reason Washington State ferries are so big. Same reason they only travel on large water bodies. Vehicles (motorized and non-) take up a lot of space.

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  • AndyC of Linnton December 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I’m excited to have a transit option other than a cab in wee-er hours.
    Also gotta say, I’m hoping adding more bikes to the streets will help all over. The east side probably needs to be figured in pretty soon, since Portland has a relatively small downtown core.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu December 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    If a system is used just by commuters, it gets imbalanced quickly. In the morning, all the outlying stations in residential areas empty out, and all the downtown stations fill, then the later commuters can’t find bikes near their homes or can’t find empty docks to park bikes downtown.

    The system then needs expensive rebalancing, which is bikes loaded on trucks and driven around from full stations to empty ones. It costs enough to load, truck, and unload a bike that one rebalance move more than cancels out the revenue generated by the commuter who rode that bike that morning. Not good if you want a self sustaining bikeshare. Repeat in reverse in the afternoon.

    Hopefully the Portland system can be located where the bikes get used for errands, lunch, appointment, nightlife, and everything else – not just commuting. That will probably mean the system has to start off in the densest areas of the city. Downtown, the Pearl, NW 23rd, the very very close-in East side.

    It may be frustrating to people who live in other areas – like me – but the initial footprint of the system will spread over time, as long as it gets off to a successful start and isn’t spread too thinly at first.

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  • resopmok December 17, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I think if the city is serious about seeing a successful bike share system, they need to get more serious about providing a serious infrastructure that makes using that system appealing. If they continue to implement half-hatched plans where they could be building something better, like the Foster design, they will not see a full return on investment in bike share. As predicted, the once mightily hailed bike master plan continues to gather dust on the shelf. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson December 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Its a chicken/egg thing, but I’m pretty sure that a robust bikeshare system will spur more investments in bike infrastructure.

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