When Portland made its first attempt at bike share in 2011, concerns about equity gave local leaders pause. So when the City rebooted the idea they made sure it would be accessible to as many Portlanders as possible; rich and poor.
Now the nonprofit Community Cycling Center will add to those efforts thanks to a $75,000 grant they just earned from the Better Bike Share Partnership, a collaboration between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, People for Bikes, and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). The program, “strives to increase the accessibility and use of bike share in underserved communities.” The CCC’s award is one of nine grants totaling $532,000 that were announced today.
The CCC’s grant funding will be put toward a grassroots outreach and education effort that will start when the BIKETOWN bikes hit the streets in mid-July. The marketing initiative will be aimed at Portlanders living on low incomes. “In addition to offering very low-cost memberships through workshops, they will also use community feedback to improve and guide the system through launch and its first year of implementation,” reads a press release about the grants.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has already set the cost of using bike share lower than any other major system in the U.S. It’ll be $2.50 for 30 minutes or 90 minutes free per day with an annual pass that costs $10-$15 a month. Because of the public blowback about equity the first time around, PBOT has made it a much higher priority for BIKETOWN. In addition to the system being relatively inexpensive to use, the City of Portland has committed to hiring BIKETOWN staff from underserved populations and paying them a “living wage.” PBOT also got a huge boost when Nike’s sponsorship came with a 60 percent larger service area which has allowed them to expand the program well beyond the central city (a key criticism in 2011).
CCC is a natural partner for this type of work. Through their adult bike safety education and earn-a-bike programs they already have strong relationships with social service agencies and affordable housing providers. Through their groundbreaking “Understanding Barriers to Bicycling” project they learned that the two biggest reasons people in underserved communities don’t bike is due to access and cost.
With this grant the CCC will offer lower cost BIKETOWN memberships after people have taken a class on bicycle safety and a workshop about how to use the system. The $75,000 will help fund the equivalent of 500 annual memberships.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – email@example.com
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