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Is Biketown bike share for all? Or only the able-bodied?

Posted by on June 2nd, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Handcycle ride wth Ian Jaquiss

Hand-cycle riders like Ian Jaquiss won’t be able to use Portland’s bike share system.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland is launching a bike share program with 1,000 bikes. But what about people with who need to ride a hand-cycle or a recumbent or a trike due to a physical disability? Will they be able to use this new system?

That’s a question raised by city council candidate Chloe Eudaly just six weeks before Portland’s Nike-sponsored Biketown system is set to launch.

“While it can be expensive to accommodate people with disabilities, excluding them also comes at a great cost. It may also violate federal law.”
— Chloe Eudaly, candidate for Portland City Council

Eudaly, who happens to be running against incumbent City Commissioner (and head of the transportation bureau) Steve Novick, posted to her election campaign Facebook page on May 24th that while she’s excited about bike share she’s also, “disappointed to find out that the program excludes people with mobility challenges.”

“How is a 1,000 bike program without a single adapted bike equitable or inclusive?” she wrote. Eudaly questioned how the City of Portland could afford “limited edition wrap designs” but not pay for adaptive bikes to be part of the fleet. “People with disabilities also often have diminished opportunities for socializing, recreation, and exercise and poorer quality of life and health outcomes as a result,” she continued. “So, while it can be expensive to accommodate people with disabilities, excluding them also comes at a great cost. It may also violate federal law.”

Eudaly is referring to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act which states that, “Public transportation authorities may not discriminate against people with disabilities in the provision of their services.”

We followed up with Eudaly, the City of Portland, a lawyer, bike share operators from other cities, the executive director of Disability Rights Oregon and others to learn more about this issue.

To Eudaly, it’s simple: “This is a matter of equity,” she wrote in an email to BikePortland. Here’s more from her email:

We have a whole office devoted to it now, which aims to recognize and remove “systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access and opportunity, starting with issues of race and disability.” Yet there was seemingly zero consideration given to making our Biketown program accessible to people with disabilities. I find this statement from the website particularly galling, “Biketown is a celebration of the Portland spirit: active, creative, inventive, and inclusive”, just not creative, inventive, or inclusive enough to include people with disabilities I guess.

There’s no mention of disabled persons access on the City’s bike share program website. There are several references to equity, but only as it pertains to ethnicity and economics. Bike share is absent from the available meeting minutes of the the City of Portland’s Commission on Disability (PCOD), a group that meets monthly specifically to advise the city on ADA-related issues. Suzanne Stahl, the current PCOD chair, commented on Eudaly’s Facebook post and said that Biketown “Must provide adaptable alternatives.” Stahl says the program also violates the federal Rehabilitation Act.

“It is a key question and we’re working toward an answer by talking to our peer cities and people in the disability community.”
— John Brady, PBOT

Portland-based Disability Rights Oregon is a nonprofit that offers legal assistance to people with disabilities. Their Executive Director Bob Joondeph said in an interview today, “It’s really unfortunate,” that the city doesn’t appear to have given any thought about this issue. “When the city gets involved in any type of public service, they have an obligation to make sure it’s accessible to people with disabilities.” Joondeph didn’t offer a legal perspective on the case and said so far no one has filed a formal complaint with his office; but he did say he’s experienced this problem with the City of Portland in the past. “We’ve run into this before where they launched something and it’s only at the very end where they say, ‘Oh yeah!'”.

Joondeph said this reminds him of when the city launched its first streetcar line without considering disabled persons in the station designs. “They didn’t think about it until the end.” When it comes to Eudaly’s criticisms of the bike share program, Joondeph said, “I think she’s got a point.”

We asked the Portland Bureau of Transportation if Biketown would be accessible to people with disabilities. Here’s the statement they gave us nine days later:

“The City is committed to seeing Biketown be successful for a wide range of Portlanders. We’ve been talking with our peers in other cities and are reaching out across the different communities of people with disabilities to listen and learn. Biketown will add to an already rich choice of transportation options.”

That didn’t answer our questions, so we had the following exchange:

So does this mean Biketown isn’t currently accessible to people with disabilities?

“I don’t think we can assume that given that there is a range of different types of disability,” replied PBOT Communication Director John Brady.

Was access to the bikes by disabled persons considered in the planning process?

“Yes, the topic of access and broader issues related to disability were part of the planning process,” Brady wrote in an email. “For example, in the station siting process, we have made sure that we comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

That’s about station locations not impeding with ADA access; but how about the actual use of the bikes and the system itself? Or, put another way: If someone with a physical disability that prevents them from riding a standard bicycle wants to use Biketown, what would they do?

“Right, the way you’ve rephrased it is a key question and we’re working toward an answer by talking to our peer cities and people in the disability community.”

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Dennis Steinman is an attorney with Kell, Alterman & Runstein L.L.P. in Portland and has over 20 years of experience in ADA law. He said no matter how you slice it, the City of Portland is required to make bike share accessible to people with disabilities. “Any public entity must make all of the services they offer accessible…. Any time Portland offers some form of new service, they have to do a self-evaluation as to how – if at all – it’s ADA compliant.”

According to Steinman there are four exceptions to the ADA law: If the accomodation leads to undue financial burden, undue administrative burden, if it would “fundamentally alter the nature of the program,” or if it would constitute a safety risk. In the case of Portland bike share, Steinman says none of those excuses would hold up in court. Financially, Steinman explained, cities are seen by the courts as having “endless pockets.” He’s never seen the administrative burden argument win, and he doesn’t think adding adaptive bikes into the fleet would “fundamentally” change the nature of the program or that there use would create a safety risk.

In my research of other bike share systems around the country I couldn’t find any major vendors that offer adaptive bikes or specific services for people that have disabilities. Capital Bikeshare in Washington D.C., one of the nation’s largest and most successful programs, mentions disabled access in their FAQ but simply points people to an email if they need “reasonable accomodation.” Capital Bikeshare says their bike share system is part of “part of a regional transporation system” that is ADA-compliant and therefore it’s legal under federal law.

Adaptive-Bike-Clinic-Flier-2016-2

Acting on a tip I contacted Dave Fotsch, the director of Boise Idaho’s bike share system “GreenBike”. Fotsch said they initially talked about making special accomodations for people with disabilities, but they didn’t in the end. “The range of disabilities is so wide and the possible solutions so narrow that we didn’t think we could do justice to any particular group,” he said.

GreenBike uses Social Bicycles, the same type of bicycles Portland’s system will use. Social Bicycles doesn’t offer any adaptive bicycles — highlighting a problem for cities who want the option to purchase them.

B-Cycle is the only national bike share equipment vendor to offer a non-standard bicycle for city fleets. Their tricycle has been used in several cities since it was introduced in 2013. One of them is Boulder, Colorado. Boulder B-Cycle Director James Waddell told us he considered having one in their fleet but it didn’t work out. “They were double the price, and the one we borrowed from Denver B-cycle to try proved to be slightly dangerous for even able bodied people to ride!”

Overall it seems like the issue of making bike share systems accessible to people who can’t ride a standard two-wheeled bicycle, is a new issue that deserves more attention.

Is there even a demand for adaptive bikes?

Adam Amundsen runs Different Spokes, a shop in Portland that specializes in adaptive bikes. “People with disabilities don’t always advocate for themselves if they feel like it’ll be a major hassle or expense,” he said today in an interview. Sort of like bike parking or bike lanes, the demand only shows up once the infrastructure is available. Amundsen said if different types of bikes were available, they’d definitely get ridden. He added that Portland is known for being an inclusive place where “people can be their true person in public” and that one of the greatest things about biking is that – with the right type of bike – nearly anyone can do it.

To prove it, Amundsen is helping put on an Adaptive Bike Clinic this Sunday in partnership with the City of Portland’s Parks Bureau, Adaptive Sports NW, Shriner’s Hospital, Adventures Without Limits and other organizations.

As for how to make Biketown more accessible to people with disabilities, the bikes that will be at Sunday’s clinic are examples of ones that could potentially be integrated into the system. The City of Portland Parks Bureau has had a senior cycling program for years that uses tricycles. Along with local experts like Amundsen, Portland has other adaptive bike resources like Adaptive Sports Northwest and the popular Bike First! program run by the Northwest Down Syndrome Association.

This isn’t the first time the City of Portland has faced a learning curve when it comes to making new types of mobility options accessible to its disabled citizens. Making sure Uber vehicles would accomodate wheelchair users was a big win in the tense negotiations between City Hall and the aggressive ride-hailing service.

PBOT has about six weeks before the launch of bike share and Council Candidate Eudaly wants to see them do something about it. “I urge PBOT and the City of Portland to do the right thing. Show our disability community just how creative, inventive, and inclusive we can be, and avoid any potential lawsuits down the line.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

“Is there even a demand for adaptive bikes? ”

Other than the words of a guy who makes his living selling them, a lawyer who makes his living suing others, and a politician attempting to burnish her credentials with a baseless threat to sue the City, it would appear this story is a lot of smoke and no fire. What does the actual law and guidance related to the ADA say regarding bikeshare systems? (hint: zilch)

Josh G
Guest
Josh G

Since Biketown will be a freelocking system without docks, I’d think it would have a much easier time getting various adaptive bikes working. Citibike can’t dock a tricycle, right?

Adam
Subscriber

To even be useful for someone with a disability, there would need to be a multitude of adaptive bikes at every station. I don’t think it’s feasible for the city to do this. Would those people be better-served by improving public transport, instead of spending money on bikes that won’t get used? What about improving paratransit? Don’t the people who would be served by this already own an adaptive bike that likely has to be custom tailored for their use? Why not wait to see if there is a demand for this instead of trying to speak for people with disabilities whom are not even asking for this, by suing the city and delaying the rollout even further.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Excellent coverage, Jonathan! I have often wondered about this angle myself and agree with Josh G’s comment that our great system seems better suited to accommodating adaptive bikes. I would love to see adaptive bikes be readily available for Biketown users. Amundson’s comment about people not wanting to cause a hassle is spot on.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

It seems like springing for a couple special bikes would not be too difficult or costly. Getting them adapted for use in the system might be tricky.
I’m not sure how doing so will shield the City from a lawsuit. ‘better than anyone else is doing’ doesn’t work for Civil Rights law.
I also foresee an issue regarding number of units. How ‘equal access’ is defined in this case (proportional ratios?) and where the bikes are located seem like more sticking points.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

The only possible adaptive cycle would be an E-Trike. For safety reasons it would need either a tall flag or be an old style trike with rear wheel drive and an upright seat instead of the safer recliner. It could be used by a quadraplegic.

Justin
Guest
Justin

I’m not entirely sure how Eudaly hopes to gain by making threats against the city for which she is running for office. “Awfully nice bike share you’re getting, it’d be a shame if something happened to it.”

I have been very vocal in my frustrations with Novick, but this is ridiculous.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Waste of time and effort. I will henceforth be supporting Novick, I think he’s done rather OK at the thankless job of trying to balance transportation interests in a time of limited budgets.

Al Dimond
Guest

So bike share can’t be used by everyone… well, we already knew that, didn’t we? Bike share is deployed across a fairly limited portion of any city because bike share doesn’t attract very many riders in the rest of the city.

This chips away at the idea that the benefit of bike share is broad-based enough to qualify for public subsidy. It probably chips away less than the geographic disparities, but it’s a cut that suggests others. Maybe this just isn’t a service that should be offered by the city and considered part of its infrastructure!

maccoinnich
Subscriber

I think it would be interesting to hear Steve Novick’s opinions on this matter. As well as being the transportation Commissioner and Chloe Eudaly’s opponent, he is someone who has physical disabilities that prevent him from being able to ride a bike.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Just returned from a week in Salt Lake City.

In four days downtown I saw half-a-dozen of the plentiful green bikes in use.

Seemed pretty expensive, and perhaps dangerous, for SLC’s wide streets are conducive to fast driving.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Seems kind of ridiculous to me, what is next seeing eye dogs locked to some of the bikes for blind users. ADA has done some good things for sure, but some of this stuff goes a bit too far.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Perhaps a potential existing model for improving accessibility to this service…would be how the car share companies have attempted to address this issue.

My memory was that car share companies would provide members who are physically disabled a vehicle with hand controls or other accessibility tools or assistance (making a reservation etc.).

The Zipcar website discusses what they will do for accessibility for members…as long as they have a 24 hour notice before a planned trip…this is similar to the reservation policy of most public para transit services.

http://members.zipcar.com/en-GB/portland/apply/services-for-disabled

I cannot speak to how successful these companies have been in meeting this type of required service…none of the Flexcar / Portland Carshare members I recruited requested such a service.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

If there is a transportation system that accommodates the disabled that operates parallel to the bike share, then, I would think, they are covered. Bus, Max and street cars are accessible, and special Tri-Met van are delivering people to their doors already. Can a handicapped person sue to use stairs if there is a ramp available?

Dave
Guest
Dave

I have no dog in this fight at all but as a working bike mechanic it prompts the question of what variety of bikes/trikes would be needed? There’s a pretty wide range of trikes, e-trikes, quads, and handcycles that are used by differently abled people. One thing that makes bike share systems work is that a generic kind of bike is very widely usable, a quality that isn’t shared by most special needs machines.

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

Now I know how to vote in the City Council election.

Citibike is apparently private. Why isn’t the Nike-sponsored Biketown private?
If it were, we’d avoid this mess, which could easily be the demise of bikeshare.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

Ignoring that the needs of those with disabilities vary wildly (and therefore require different adaptive bicycles), I’m unclear on what is desired.

Even if all the correct adaptive bicycles could be provided, how are those that need them supposed to use them? Just leave their wheelchair or whatever adaptive technology they need to get around behind? What are they supposed to do when they get to their destination?

Bike share needs to be considered as part of a broader transportation plan. It’s all about getting everyone where they need to be in the way that makes the most sense for them individually, not making sure that everyone uses every single transportation option.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

This is a great topic! I am glad it has been raised and was so well-reported on. It seems very unfortunate that Eudaly appears to give an undercurrent of threatening a lawsuit as opposed to working toward a solution. In my experience, the ADA guidelines are ridiculously easy to skirt, but the City can occasionally be responsive if a reasonable solution is offered. An example of Portland willfully ignoring the spirit of the ADA guidelines is the Waud Bluff trail that was created as a pedestrian and bike connection to Swan Island. Because the bluff required the trail to be constructed with slopes slightly in excess of ADA standards, the City chose to terminate the bridge in stairs even though this completely excludes many users who could have negotiated the path just fine (motorized wheel chairs, people with strollers, many wheelchair users). For Bikeytown, a broad conversation should be conducted to determine if there is a need/desire for bikes for disabled people, and if so, create a working group of stakeholders to review possible solutions with the caveat that this may be a phase 2 implementation. The easier thing to fix about Bikeytown is that it completely excludes all people under the age of 18! And the fact that they want to put large bike parking stations on our sidewalks! Let’s work to fix these obvious flaws before they get built, then continue to work to improve the system and make it more inclusive.

not that Mark
Guest
not that Mark

I was impressed with the comments Chloe posted here right after the election. Between her and Novick I know there will be good representation for the elderly and disabled on city council. The needs of the elderly and disabled and their caretakers are easy to overlook when one is young and healthy. After watching my parents get old and getting to know a disabled person my views changed alot.

I have viewed bike share as more recreation than transportation. In that light, access for the disabled seems a bit silly. But if it is to be considered as a legitimate transportation mode for the general public, which most folks here seem to want, then the ADA should be addressed. In the end very little may change.

colton
Guest
colton

I wonder what the Dutch do?

dan
Guest
dan

I bet Nike’s PR department is super excited by this discussion. I’m sure they’re looking forward to having their brand identified with any upcoming controversy.

Jonathan Radmacher
Guest
Jonathan Radmacher

How-To-Kill-Bike-Share-101. Seriously?!? You realize that sight impaired people would have a similar right, right? You don’t have to fundamentally change the service to meet everyone’s needs, e.g. if someone has a vertigo disability they don’t get to demand three wheels; if someone can’t pedal they don’t get to demand a motorized bike.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Since the quest of what car share does for enhancing its services for members with a physical disability…here is some history:

Handicapped accessibility
“Adapting carsharing vehicles to persons with physical disabilities presents special challenges not faced by traditional car rental. With car sharing no mechanic is present to install or adjust adaptive equipment, and that equipment is left unattended after each use. In 2008, City CarShare introduced the first wheelchair carrying car share vehicle, the Access Mobile, specifically designed as a fleet vehicle shared with, not segregated from, non-wheelchair users.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carsharing

If the zero year of US car sharing is 1998 (Dave Brook et al started Portland Car Share) …then it took 10 years to start to address this issue for wheel chair users vs. hand controls.

So for US bike share we should be getting close to this awareness if the bike share zero year was 2008 (DC v1).

RH
Guest
RH

So if there is a walking trail at a city park, how is the city supposed to acomodate someine that can’t walk it? I don’t want to burst anyones bubble, but many things in life are not fair or equitable.

Marshall Runkel
Guest
Marshall Runkel

Marshall Runkel, Chloe’s campaign manager here. She is hosting an event at Reading Frenzy, a reading and book signing for Kate Daloz’s We Are As Gods that chronicles the trials and tribulations of a back-to-the-land commune in Vermont. Otherwise, she’d likely weigh in herself.

I understand and respect how much work has gone into developing Portland’s bike share system. I guarantee that Chloe’s intention isn’t to derail the system. She is posing questions that arguably should have been considered before she raised them.

Maybe DC’s answer, that bike share is part of transportation system that has other components that are accessible, is the best we can do. I’m reluctantly resisting my urge to take a shot at the wit and wisdom of DC, but seriously am willing to accept that answer if many of the valid issues others have raised here about including adaptive bikes are insurmountable.

Two overarching points about Chloe’s campaign: we aren’t going to engage in cheap shots and we will do our best to provide intrinsic value to the city regardless of the result of the race.

Many thanks to Jonathan for the great journalism!!!

carlb
Guest
carlb

It is a very short leap from, “People who need iron lungs can’t use bike share, so nobody should be allowed to use bike share” to, “People who need iron lungs can’t ride bikes, so nobody should be allowed to ride bikes.”

Marie Deatherage
Guest
Marie Deatherage

My son was born with a disability that left him paralyzed from the armpits down. So often, when he wasn’t able to even get on a playground or in a building or attend an event, I used to have to explain that those things were designed and built before we knew any better. As he got older, it became clear that even though we knew better and people with disabilities finally had civil rights, I didn’t know how to explain to him why we were still designing and building things he still couldn’t access. Believe me, we have a very long way to go before things are actually equal. I lost my beloved Blaine almost a year and a half ago. It breaks my already broken heart to see that now that we know better, accommodating people with disabilities is still seen as an afterthought, too much trouble, not worth it, etc. by some. In 2016, can we start these designing and building discussions with the premise that accessibility is a priority and we’ll come up with a system that represents our best work. If everyone only knew how many obstacles people and families with disabilities still face. Yes, now that we know better. Please bear this in mind when these conversations happen.

anon
Guest
anon

There’s a lot to unpack here, so please bear with me:

1) persons with disabilities are a very diverse group of individuals. Persons with disabilities include but are not limited to persons with physical disabilities, mental health users, persons with sensory disabilities (Deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision, and deafblind), intellectual/cognitive disabilities, etc.

2) Some persons with all of those above mentioned disabilities can use the bikeshare system as currently construed. Yes, I realize that includes blind persons. Please follow this link if you want to begin to change how you see persons who are blind:

http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/378577902/how-to-become-batman

3) The fact that people with disabilities who use hand-cycles may not be able to use the bike share system cannot be used as an argument that the system is inaccessible for all persons with disabilities. Nor is it fair to use that as an argument to say that it is inequitable for persons with disabilities. While I’d thought about supporting Chloe Eudely, her comments and her campaign manager’s comments, make me less inclined to do so.

4) while it is true that in an ideal world the bikeshare system would have hand-cycles, the very nature of the system (where bikes move from one location to a next) makes it very difficult to have any customized bikes for anyone. (there are also no bikes for 7 foot tall basketball players. should we ding PBOT for that too?)

5) I don’t know what the demand for hand-cycles within the smallish geographic scope of the first phase of the bikeshare system is. I would suspect it is fairly low. are hand-cycle users complaining about the exclusion of hand-cycles from the bike share system or is it only lawyers and Chloe Eudaly (who I understand has a son with CP)?

6) full disclosure – I have CP. and I ride a bike.

7) I echo the sentiment that was expressed in a comment above regrading the specific technical requirements that would need to be adhered to for each unique hand-cycle user, whose body types will differ from one another. no two hand-cycle users are identical. each cycle, therefore, must be customized. this is the whole point of reasonable accommodation – i.e it is based on the individual user.

8) Given that, PBOT is in a no win situation here.

9) my concern here is that non-disabled persons often think they are advocating on behalf of persons with disabilities when in reality that advocacy is based on their own views rather than the actual views of the person with the disability (this is a huge problem, especially when it comes to the issue of legal guardianship).

10) a person who uses a hand-cycle presumably also uses a wheelchair. switching from wheelchair to hand-cycle at a kiosk is something that some wheelchair users may be able to do (like Ian), but many wheelchair users may not be able to manage such a transition, and would also then be required to store their wheelchair somewhere secure while making that shift.

11) the Eugene rental website that someone linked to is different enough that I don’t think the comparison is fair. I can say more about this, but I’ll leave it at that for now given the length of this post.

F
Guest
F

Easy solution – design a bike that can be ridden by anyone, no matter what.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

This issue is ridiculous and this candidate just lost my vote.

Disabled persons use such a variety of cycles that it is impossible to accommodate them in a practical bikeshare system.

How does the disabled user get to the bikeshare station in the first place? Most likely by wheelchair. How can they use a bike if they have to leave a wheelchair behind and there is no wheelchair at the destination?

If the city is sued over this, either it will win after spending legal fees that won’t be available for bikeshare, or a couple dozen handcycles will get painted green and put at the bikeshare stations, where they will rust unused, until they are vandalized and then finish rusting.

Chloe Eudaly
Guest

Thanks for this well researched article, Jonathan. A little more background on my experience and perspective for your readers — I’ve been active in disability advocacy for over a decade. I’m a 2004 graduate of Partners in Policymaking — a yearlong intensive disability advocacy and leadership training program. I count among my early mentors some of Oregon’s fiercest advocates for disability rights who have done/are doing vital work at the local, state, and national level. Disability has always been a normal part of my life — my grandfather was paralyzed in an accident and was an early disability renegade, my older cousin has a significant physical disability and uses a power chair, and my son Henry has cerebral palsy and also uses a wheelchair.

Thanks also to those of you who have left comments supportive of accommodation and inclusion. I’m going to go post my entire response below since there seems to be some misunderstandings as to what I was suggesting. To be clear, I know that we cannot accommodate every user. For instance, I don’t expect BIKETOWN to have a bike that my son can safely ride because he requires customized support. The bikes I suggested are three wheel hand or foot pedaled bikes readily available through non-specialty retailers. These bikes would open up our bike share program to some of the roughly 7% of our population who experience significant mobility challenges, as well as people with other disabilities or conditions that either prevent them from balancing on two wheels or using their feet to pedal. As our population ages the demand will only increase.

If it surprises you to learn that such a significant number of people experience mobility challenges, it’s probably because you don’t encounter many of them in your daily life. Have you ever stopped to wonder why? Do you think it could have anything to do with how hard it is to navigate a city that wasn’t made for you? To endure multiple obstacles on what would be a simple excursion for an able bodied person? Or to know that your city and your community doesn’t care enough about your participation and well being to include you?

BIKETOWN as it stands is exclusion by design. How about instead of those custom wraps that “will reflect the city’s creative spirit” we just put “able bodied only” stickers on all 1000 bikes and just be honest about it. Because that’s what those of you who are against any kind of accommodation are saying. That people with disabilities do not matter, do not deserve to be accommodated, do not deserve to be included. That any kind of accommodation is unreasonable and an undue burden because the city could ONLY afford 1000 bikes and we need every single one of them to have two wheels and foot pedals. That sounds pretty unreasonable to me.

ORIGINAL REPLY TO JONATHAN:

“This is a matter of equity. We have a whole office devoted to it now, which aims to recognize and remove “systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access and opportunity, starting with issues of race and disability.” Yet there was seemingly zero consideration given to making our Biketown program accessible to people with disabilities. I find this statement from the website particularly galling, “BIKETOWN is a celebration of the Portland spirit: active, creative, inventive, and inclusive”, just not creative, inventive, or inclusive enough to include people with disabilities I guess.

The most obvious choices for adaptive bikes are three-wheeled foot and hand pedaled bikes. While it would be impossible to anticipate and accommodate every potential user, these two styles of bikes would greatly expand the range of people served by our bike share program. Roughly 7% of our population experiences a significant mobility challenge, but they’re not the only potential users. Adaptive bikes would also provide increased exercise, recreation, and transportation options for senior citizens, people with diminished strength due to illness or disability, and those with balance disorders. PBOT already provides three-wheeled recumbent trikes for its Senior Cyclist Program, why not include adaptive bikes in Biketown?

I tried to imagine all the excuses the City could come up with: the bikes are too expensive, they won’t fit on the existing rack system, they represent an increased liability, and/or they don’t believe there’s a demand/don’t want to “over serve” the disabled at the expense of the non-disabled (yes, this is an argument I’ve heard before). First of all, besides the fact that cost is not a legitimate argument for failing to provide a reasonable accommodation, these bikes are available from non-specialty manufactures and retail for under $1000. As for fitting in with the existing storage system, the Biketown bikes are “smart bikes” and can be secured anywhere. While a certain level of liability is inherent in bike share programs, I imagine PBOT is doing what needs to be done in order to minimize risk for the city. We need to presume competence in riders with disabilities — just like we’re doing with non-disabled riders. Finally, at the rate it’s going Portland is decades away from “over serving” people with disabilities, if ever. We’ll let you know when/if that happens.

I would think that Nike would be bending over backwards to accommodate people with disabilities considering how they’ve been targeting adaptive sports in the last few years, and the success of their FLYEASE adaptive shoe line. I urge PBOT and the City of Portland to do the right thing, show our disability community just how creative, inventive, and inclusive we can be, and avoid any potential lawsuits down the line by adding adaptive bikes to Biketown.”

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

it would be a big win for both Nike and the city if they could figure out a way to launch with some adaptive bikes. public bike share is still relatively young and im not sure if any other systems provide adaptive bikes, so this is an opportunity to come out ahead of the curve. some kind of trike with cargo capacity could also give families a bike share option as well.

axoplasm
Subscriber

A shocking lot of the comments here could be paraphrased as “can’t win, don’t try.”

1 trike > 0 trikes.

100 trikes = secret awesome.

Having more than a few token trikes might unleash a hidden wave of demand. Maybe not just from disabled riders if you want to be selfish about it. To haul kegs maybe, or if you just feel like pedaling with your arms for a change.

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Another option to consider may be designing in secure bike parking (not short term racks) at some requested locations as part of the Biketown rollout Phase 1…thus cycle riders with a disability can choose to park their hand cycle and or wheelchair in a secure room depending which leg of their trip they are taking…this would be a more limited A to B to A trip much like car sharing started with… a start at a solution. These secure parking rooms could also provide secure parking for other bike riders who already own a bike, recharging of wheelchairs, helmet vending, etc.

[Shameless plug] Bikestation has been deploying prefab mini parking rooms and the design of these could be modified to park a few wheelchairs, hand cycles if the client requested it…vs. only parking just bikes:
http://home.bikestation.com/oceanside
http://home.bikestation.com/santa-barbara-mtd-lot-3

Biketown [or PBoT] give me a call.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

“But officials said they would scale back the program significantly if it doesn’t prove self-sustaining to avoid committing more public funds.”

SD
Guest
SD

Starting an important discussion is great. Framing an important discussion in a manner that pits two marginalized groups against each other is not great.

It happens all the time and appears to come from an over-attachment to specific rhetorical conventions rather than a desire for progress.

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

First, that city personnel and the professional planners contracted for by the city to develop a bike share system do not appear to have anticipated or figured out a way to address ADA compliance is a pretty big failure in a series of missteps in this whole process.

As I understand it, the city is required to provide reasonable accommodation to satisfy ADA requirements. I don’t think reasonable accommodation requires bikes that are modified to accommodate every conceivable permutation of disability be immediately available at every single location bike share operates and it doesn’t appear Ms. Eudaly or others raising this issue want or demand that.

It appears that the DC bikeshare position is that their bikeshare is part of the larger metro transportation system which is ADA compliant. If that passes ADA muster, Portland could contract with Tri-Met to utilize the lift service.

If bike share isn’t complaint by piggybacking off of Tri-Met because its considered a separate transportation system, the other option is to purchase trikes, recumbents, tandems,etc and possibly contract with a pedicab operator that would cover a range of disabilities and operate those kind of like the Tri-Met lift service. Have those bikes in a central location and have 12 or 24 hour reservation to guarantee that an accommodating vehicle will be at a specific bike share location. It won’t cover every disability scenario and presents an inconvenience to users and possibly eliminates spur of the moment trips, but there are tradeoffs in reasonable accommodation.

As someone who doesn’t think bikeshare is a project worthy of public funds (I just don’t see a sufficient direct benefit for Portland residents), if it is being implemented with public funds and is a public service, it needs to be ADA compliant. If that means that the system needs to launch with x-number less “standard” bikes to budget for accommodating bikes or contracting with Tri-Met to pay for lift service, then that does not seem like the end of the world.

Paul in the 'Couve
Guest
Paul in the 'Couve

I fear the way this issue is raised here, and how proponents are framing it is destructive to the wider purpose. I think it makes the focus too narrow. ADA vs. Bike share is the wrong focus. ADA vs. safe streets, livability and transportation access would be constructive. I do agree that forethought and planning of how bike share can work for those who may not be able to ride traditional bikes would be good, but the suggesting an ADA lawsuit vs. Bike share is likely to kill bike share and actually lead to less real improvement in the overall goals of both ADA and active transportation.

Bike share and the push to bring bike share to Portland is about much more than just one service. It is one component of the broader efforts of the cycling and livable cities movement. It is about street design, infrastructure, transportation choices and alternatives, decisions on where money is spent (10s millions for one autocentric intersection improvement with beg buttons for pedestrians vs. sidewalks and density). To focus on the micro level of “How Bike Share does not meet ADA” turns what should be an effort with a great deal of room for cooperation and mutual interest into an adversarial battle with no win for either side. It is an even worse fight than the public transit vs. bicycle battle. Everyone looses except those wealthy enough easily afford reliable cars, insurance, gas and increased taxes for more streets, traffic lights and freeway lanes.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

I’m thoroughly disappointed in the sentiment reflected in what seems to be the majority of the comments on this issue.

“She lost my vote” for bringing this up? Really? It’s a valid concern. Are we really so reflexive and defensive about our bikeshare systems that we are unwilling to even *consider* the issue?

I also see dozens of comments that “we can’t accommodate every disability, it’d require too many different bikes, therefore we can’t do it.” Who said we have to, or should, accommodate every disability? ADA accommodations never accommodate every disability, that’s an absurd reaction.

How about this: could one modified bike design accommodate a substantial number of disabled users? If so, should we include some of those bikes? Where? It’s worth exploring. Now personally, I think there are some compelling arguments against the notion that are addressed in the comments. Chief among them: a few adapted bikes are not likely to be very useful in a system that requires ready access and distribution. Also, how a user would get to the bike and what they’d do with their equipment.

But my thoughts on the eventual outcome aside, it’s worth exploring. Shutting down the topic out of some fear that it will kill the whole thing is a response I’d expect out of a less thoughtful forum.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

For this to be practical at all, people need to decide what objectives we’re trying to solve and then figure out which disabilities they might be able to accommodate. Putting some trikes out may not be a bad idea as these can serve the same needs as the other bike share bikes for people with certain mobility issues.

But it’s reality challenged to think people are going to leave their own adaptive technology bike rack so they can take a super heavy bike out in downtown traffic, tracks, and on slopes. Given how many able bodied cycling advocates whine about Portland riding conditions and how the physicality of riding prevents so many very able bodied people from cycling, I wonder how many people who need trikes and adaptive cycles are chomping at the bit to ride in those same conditions.

This conversation has made me wonder if we might have a solution in search of a problem. There are a lot of adaptive cycles and trikes in the area, but there aren’t too many tooling around on busy urban streets — mine being one of the very few you’ll see until you get further out. There’s probably a reason for that.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

How does something similar like car2go handle ADA issues? Do all their cars have modifications available so individuals without the use of their legs can be accommodated? I know that individuals with spinal cord injuries need to operate the gas and brakes using their hands. Is that possible with the current car2go system?

Robert Burchett
Guest
Robert Burchett

Wow, that ws yards of comment with no mention of the NE handcycle (association?) which seems to be a thing more or less carried by a guy named Ian. Two people I know who had a (thankfully) temporary physical limitation were supplied with handcycles and even tech support! for as long as they needed them, for little or no money. This is a case of volunteers, grants, and the private sector being way out front.

Point: instead of having various kinds of adaptive bikes all over town, have a resource for people who can’t ride average bikes to get what they need. I think Adam H. is right on with this one: requiring bike share to be all things to all people, all over town, means it will never pencil out. But, if the dux can get by with one less uniform, that’s a lot of handcycles.

Martha
Guest
Martha

Got the cars of the streets. That would help a lot by providing room for all the different types of bike and riders.

kelly tadlock
Guest
kelly tadlock

If I am being asked as a taxpayer to fund this I would like those funds to be used to provide SOME accessible options such as http://www.berkelbike.com/
This attaches to a wheelchair and allows the rider to use both hands and feet

kelly tadlock
Guest
kelly tadlock

No arms? No problem! A road bike for an armless cyclist. | Different Spokes
Michael Trimble is a cyclist. We met Michael about a year ago. He’d recently moved to Portland, Oregon and was looking for somebody to build his dream bike. In 2013,…
DIFFERENT SPOKES
Different Spokes
9 March ·
New post (No arms? No problem! A road bike for an armless cyclist.) has been published on Different Spokes

kelly tadlock
Guest
kelly tadlock

There are other cycling devices that attach to a wheelchair A Firefly, A Dragonfly etc . There are many adaptable devices that could be used to attach a whhelchair and make this tax payers program inclusive to MANY more persons with disabilitys. There are bikes that have an attachment for an ablebodied say mother or Dad to transport there wheelchair using child or parent

Katie b
Guest
Katie b

Ableism! Couldn’t make up a better example if you tried. Didn’t consider it at all. One in nine people have some kind of disability. Is bicycle sharing not for them?

Throw down a blanket of barriers, then say, “no demand” when nobody disabled shows up.

Trikes have all kinds of virtues, including the ability to haul bulkier items. It is an example of privilege if you never have to haul anything bulky.

kelly tadlock
Guest
kelly tadlock

In another era there would have been these same justifications to exclude people of color from an all white bike program. I.E. ” Let them get their own program… Its too exspensive to include them etc.

kelly tadlock
Guest
kelly tadlock

I sometimes use TriMET in my wheelchair there is a lift on Trimet not every disabled person can use this still it is provided in an attempt to try to reasonably accomodate a person with a disability … IS it perfect? No its not, but It is improved with every rider with a disability using it and providing feedback Does every person with a Disability get to get on the bus? No sometimes the seats are taken so we have to wait. This is the same phenomena for ablebodied riders if the bus is full they must wait for another. When enough feedback is given for additional buses then TriMet considers adding another bus. Are Lifts on buses exspensive? Does it take extra time for Diabled to board Yes and Yes. Is there problem solving needed ? Yes
This is no different from this BikeTown issue. TriMet does not say well this is too hard so just get your own bus people with Disabilities. TriMet deals with it because People with Disabilities are not second class citizens …we pay taxes.

kelly tadlock
Guest
kelly tadlock

First it looks like a whole lot of discussion with persons with Disabilities
Second it could be done in increments by first providining some Trikes that attach to wheelchairs
Third getting feedback Trial and error what works what doesn’t
Before my injury I rode a bike for 30 years in Portland I was selfemployed I loved the freedom and health benefits from riding. I have learned that I can do the things I use to love to do but in a differnt way.
The biggest obstacle for people like me are the stereotypes and abelism out there
Lastly there needs to be a will to have a fully accessible bike share program