Special gravel coverage

Half of Portland car2go vehicles now have rear bike racks

Posted by on March 6th, 2015 at 8:00 am

(Photo: car2go)

After a member survey found huge overlap between car2go users and bicycle users in Portland, the carsharing service car2go has now added rear bike racks to half of its 500-car local fleet.

Portland is the first city to get the racks, which are set up in such a way that the rear tailgate of the car2go can’t open on cars that have the racks. (The rear window, however, can still be opened.)

This decision was announced in December, following a successful trial and pilot period with 30 racks scattered through the fleet, car2go announced that it was moving up to 50 percent of its cars.

Car2go’s user survey had found that Portland respondents were intensely multimodal. Sixty-eight percent biked at least once per week, and 37 percent biked five to seven times a week. That’s presumably why 76 percent said they’d like to see bike racks on at least half of the local fleet.

The racks can fit up to two bikes each. Here’s how they work:

To find out which cars have a bike rack, you can open car2go’s mobile app or website and either tap or hover over nearby cars until you see one with the words “bike rack” in its title.

The fact that half the fleet now has a rack means that most bike users inside car2go’s home area should be able to easily bike to a car with a rack.

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“Car2go’s exciting announcement adds another fantastic arrow to Portland’s vast quiver of transportation choices,” Portland Active Transportation Division Manager Margi Bradway is quoted as saying in car2go’s news release.

The release also quoted car2go location manager Ken Hills as saying the racks would “help maintain Portland’s spot as the #1 bike-friendly city in North America.”

Though it’s likely that if the racks get substantial use in Portland they’ll be introduced in other cities, Car2go spokeswoman Dacyl Armendariz said Wednesday that her colleagues “don’t have a timeline for additional cities at this time.”

One person seemingly not charmed by car2go’s new feature is Austin-based inventor Ryan Battle, who (as we reported in 2013) designed a backpack-friendly bike rack for car2go but was publicly repudiated by car2go officials, who said his racks violated car2go terms of service as well as car2go’s insurance at the time. A car2go spokeswoman told us that the company would suspend users from the service if they used Battle’s rack.

“Congrats to @car2goportland for their bike rack pilot,” Battle tweeted icily last November, after our coverage. “car2go position of bikes flying off cars sounds a bit silly now.”

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Doug Rosser March 6, 2015 at 8:11 am

    It’s both exciting and a bit sad when you realize car2go’s have a nicer bike rack than your car does.

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  • Jonathan Gordon March 6, 2015 at 8:43 am

    It would be really great if you could filter your search for cars with racks rather than poking each car that comes up on their map. They have the search filter feature all set up, it seems like it would a trivial programming task to add bike racks to it.

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    • car2go Portland March 6, 2015 at 9:01 am

      Jonathan, you can view all cars equipped with bike racks by using the official car2go app. Just select ‘Vehicle List’ from the drop-down menu and you’ll see any cars with bike racks within your immediate area.

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      • Jonathan Gordon March 6, 2015 at 11:18 am

        Hi car2go Portland! Thanks for hearing my suggestion. Some more feedback:

        – While using the vehicle list in the mobile app is helpful, it doesn’t seem to actually offer a filter feature, so I still have to scroll through the list. Still, I hadn’t know about that option as I mostly use the webapp to plan my trips, so thanks for the tip.

        – I have at least one friend in Portland who is a frequent car2go user who doesn’t have a smart phone. For him, the web app is his only option. Any chance we’ll see the ability to filter by bike rack on the web app any time soon?

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    • John Lascurettes March 6, 2015 at 10:02 am

      Jonathan: http://xkcd.com/1425/

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      • Jonathan Gordon March 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

        As a web developer, if this isn’t a trivial task I don’t know what is. Then again, car2go routinely shows me the map for Austin because it appears first in their location dropdown so I don’t have the most faith that we’ll be seeing this feature any time soon.

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        • Steve B March 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

          I have the same issue with my maps on the website always defaulting to Austin.

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        • John Lascurettes March 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm

          I’m a web developer too, but what I think should easy is often not on existing systems that have too much technical debt to do it the easy way. I run into this routinely with the engineers I work with.

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        • Spiffy March 6, 2015 at 2:49 pm

          I wish the phone app wouldn’t default to the entire US and make me zoom A LOT because I’m inside with no GPS signal…

          I also wish it would stop forgetting my credentials, and at least have the sign-in work more than half the time…

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  • Champs March 6, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Maybe Battle should move on to a rack-compatible cargo trailer. A Smart Car alone does not have enough room for all those sour grapes.

    Living in a Zipcar household, I’m kind of jealous. The few cars that have racks don’t seem to be searchable, and apparently they move around. Best trip ever was the time our car surprised us with a roof rack and the NW Forest Pass.

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  • Clark in Vancouver March 6, 2015 at 10:18 am

    I’ve noticed that people driving Car2Gos are more considerate around others. My theory is that they aren’t normally driving so they understand the effect that driving can have on others so when they drive they think of that.
    The other theory is that the cars themselves being small just aren’t capable of dominating the street like big cars can.

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    • Cheif March 6, 2015 at 10:24 am

      I’ve noticed the exact opposite: people who aren’t regular car drivers getting a weird little rental car, driving around distracted and confused.

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      • Todd Boulanger March 6, 2015 at 1:12 pm

        …no that’s just Elly Blue driving the Car2Go around a lot! 😉

        (Just a shout out with Love…fondly remembering our drive when you swapped your bike for a car during the commute race. T)

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      • davemess March 9, 2015 at 9:19 am

        And I’ve found both (good drivers and bad drivers), which oddly parallels society in general…..

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    • SilkySlim March 6, 2015 at 10:26 am

      I think you are right on both counts. To add a third component, when driving those Smart cars you are kind of jammed up into the windshield, which while kind of awkward really puts you “in the street,” all the better for observing all the elements of the roadway.

      But to stay on topic, good for them in adding the bike racks!! Pretty amazing they deployed so many so quickly.

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    • Spiffy March 6, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      I’ve noticed they’re just as bad as any other driver, but they’re in more of a hurry because they pay by the minute…

      they’re also just as bad at parking…

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  • Hazel March 6, 2015 at 10:31 am

    I tried to use one of these last weekend and the rack was already broken. I hope this isn’t going to be the norm.

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  • Caesar March 6, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Anyone know where I can find the music on the video?

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  • PorterStout March 6, 2015 at 11:48 am

    It’s a shame the bike rack prevents use of the hatchback if that’s really the case. I have a rack on a hatchback vehicle, and it drops towards the street if you have a bike mounted so you can still open the back when needed. If there’s not a bike on it you don’t even have to do that. It attaches via a trailer hitch, which I guess these Smart cars don’t have, but it’s still a shame to have to lose a significant function of the vehicle in order to be able to carry a bike.

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    • RH March 6, 2015 at 11:53 am

      Maybe it’s just me, but I could never figure out how to open the hatchback. I could open the rear window to access the cargo area…but that hatchback always stumped me. Definitely ‘user error’ on my part though.

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      • Steve B March 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

        Same, though I never spent much time trying to figure it out because that time is literally money with car2go.

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    • Spiffy March 6, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      it doesn’t prevent use of the hatchback, it prevents use of the rear gate… the “hatch” is the window and it still opens…

      remember, this is a short station wagon (hence the rear gate), not a coupe (so no hatch)…

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  • Mork March 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Last month got a flat a long way from home and decided to put both of our bikes on the rear rack. It probably took 5 minutes to get them both secured, during which the minutes were running. I’m sure next time we will be more efficient, but in the dark and rain I found all the different steps fiddly and annoying, even though I had watched the video in advance.

    That said, we eventually got two Linus city bikes secured to the rack and made it to our destination. It is a nice alternative to the bus when you have two people and can’t rely on there being two open spots on the bus rack.

    FYI to RH, the button to open the rear hatch is on the key, it is a weird L-shaped icon and you have to hold it down for a moment for it to unlatch the hatch.

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    • davemess March 9, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Can you put the bikes on before you swipe your card?

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      • Carl March 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

        Sort of.

        You can secure the wheels before swiping your card. Then the only step left is getting the key for the “grabby thing” (technical term) and attaching that. Same with at the end of your trip. You can unlock the grabby thing, end your trip, and then deal with the rest.

        It takes a little getting used to but, on the upside, there are little cars with bike racks littered throughout the city for you to use so…first world problems.

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  • Eric March 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    I watched the video and when she “shook” the bike, it did not look too stable! Tighten those straps ya’ll!

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  • reader March 7, 2015 at 11:37 am

    When I think of strapping my 62cm cross bike to a Smart Car, I am reminded of the brontosaurus ribs on Fred Flintstone’s roof:


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  • Greg March 9, 2015 at 3:00 am

    I really like this concept, I wonder if they’re planning on expanding this internationally? I think in places like Berlin this would be used a lot. Everyone cycles there…

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  • Jim Labbe March 10, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    I used one today. This is a great addition to my personal transportation options.

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