(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Portland’s remarkable (unprecedented?) streak of good biking news continued today with a press conference in front of City Hall to mark the passage of a plan to finally make Portland Bike Share a reality.
Four of our five City Council members were on hand (Amanda Fritz was not there) as well as a Metro Councilor, the president and CEO of the company that will run the system, the CEO of the company supplying the bikes, and lots of Bureau of Transportation staff.
bike share system for the best biking city in the country.”
Mayor Charlie Hales kicked off the event by recalling the days when streetcar, the Aerial Tram, and the Airport MAX line opened.
“It was a beautiful day when we started riding streetcars in Portland, then it seemed like it was always true you could do that. It was a beautiful day when we started riding the Tram to OHSU and then that seemed normal too. And in the days after this it will seem normal and just part of Portland that there will be bike share bikes all over time. And that will be great when we can take it for granted.”
“When you think about the incredible bike culture that’s already here, I think will take bike share to a whole other level.”
— Jay Walder, CEO of Motivate
Portland first started planning for bike share in 2006 and began the quest in earnest in 2009. Suffice it to say it has been a long haul. The grueling march toward today’s celebration started with a completely different team at the helm. The first push for bike share began with the previous City Hall administration and the PBOT leadership who carried it across the finish line today were not around at all when the idea first gained steam.
But those memories are fading fast in light of the large upswell of political support Portland Bike Share now enjoys just a day after it sailed through City Council by a vote of 4-0 (Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s absence prevented the clean 5-0 vote but he was there today in what felt like an implicit sign of support). While just the 65th city to get such a system, Portland has managed to do it in a way that feels like it just might have been worth the wait.
PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick, who seemed happier and even more jocular than usual during his remarks, said he’s bullish on bike share because more cycling will help Portland combat “climate disruption and rising health care costs” which he characterized as “two of the greatest threats we face as a city, as a state, and as a nation.”
We might be the top biking city in the country, Novick added, but, “We haven’t had a major weapon in our arsenal. We haven’t had bike share.”
The “smart bike” system that will be deployed in Portland by next summer is a perfect fit for our existing bicycling culture and infrastructure, said Jay Walder, president and CEO of Motivate. “When you think about the incredible bike culture that’s already here,” he said, “I think will take bike share to a whole other level.” Walder also spoke of how PBOT has his “full support” to make our system the greenest and most accessible system in the nation. He told the crowd Motivate will ensure there are “no barriers” for anyone who wants to use Portland Bike Share or who wants to be employed by it.
Following the short speeches Mayor Hales snapped on a Nutcase helmet and spun one of the bikes around the block.
When he got back I asked how he plans to use the bike share. Here’s what he said…
Stay tuned for more bike share coverage.