It’s bike share eve in Portland: Tips, new app, latest on parking, and more

Crews are working overtime to get the final stations installed. This crew worked fast on Salmon Street on Saturday.(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Crews are working overtime to get the final stations installed. This crew installed a station on Salmon Street on Saturday in about an hour!
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Less than 24 hours from now Portland will have a bike share system.

Let that sink in.

OK. Now let’s get focused and think about what we need to know about this Biketown thing. Below is a roundup of news tidbits we’ve been collecting for the past few days:

Get the app

biketown-app

The official Biketown app became available for download this morning and is available for iOS and Android smartphones. You don’t need to have the app to use the system, but it has some nice features that you might want to take advantage of.

The map of the system is the most important feature of the app. Open up the slick interface to quickly see where you are in relation to Biketown stations. The app displays a live inventory of not just where the racks are, but more importanly, how many bikes are available at each one. If you want to ride one of the specially-branded bikes (like the current sneaker bikes), look for a special icon on the app.

Other cool features of the app include the ability to reserve a bike (with a 10 minute window), see a history of your rides, and get push notifications about the status of your ride. Notifications are handy if you want to get a message at the end of your ride that you’ve successfully locked the bike and you’re good to go.

How does this thing work anyway?

Biketown is super simple to use. I won’t explain it to you because they’ve released a one-minute video that lays it all out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPWZhknfI48&feature=youtu.be

A few extra tips I’ll throw in: Remember you don’t have to lock the bike back to a designated station. If you use a standard rack or lock it to anything other than an orange station, you will be charged $2. If you lock it outside the system area you’ll be fined $20.

Speaking of parking

untitled-51.jpg

Note the special orange sticker.

So far the biggest “controversy” has been parking issues in neighborhoods. While some inner southeast residents have been up in arms about how the racks change the street in front of their homes, the issue appears to have died down.

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There have also been concerns about how the city removed existing bike parking where they installed Biketown racks. (I have one reader who keeps texting me pictures of his bike locked to them as an act of civil disobedience.) If you’re upset about that, you’re not likely to appreciate this: There are a few standard blue staple racks where bike share bikes can park without the $2 fee. I saw some on 3rd Avenue just south of Ash near the station in the new Ankeny plaza. So yes, in these limited situations Biketown bikes can use standard racks for free, but if you lock your bike to a Biketown station rack it could be impounded.

And here’s a fun parking fact I just learned: If you return a Biketown bike locked away from a designated station, you will receive a $1 account credit.

Biketown, meet TriMet

This station at SW and Oak is on the transit mall. The lane closest to the rack however, is off-limits to bicycles.
This station at SW and Oak is on the transit mall. The lane closest to the rack however, is off-limits to bicycles.

Bike share is really just another type of public transit and all the studies show that it works best when it’s tightly integrated with existing bus and rail service. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to get an email from TriMet’s bike planner Jeff Owen this morning about how the two systems can play nicely together.

Due to limited space on MAX trains, TriMet has always encouraged people to park-and-ride instead of bringing bikes on-board. Now with many bike share stations located near light rail, TriMet is stating directly that they do not want you to bring Biketown bikes on the train. “One of the best things about bike share is that you only use it when you need it,” Owen wrote in his email today. “Just park or pick up a bike wherever you’re connecting to the bus or train. (Plus, it doesn’t make sense to pay for bike share time on top of your transit fare.)”

Two more notes about Biketown and TriMet have to do with how to ride safely: If you ride on the transit mall (5th and 6th Avenues downtown), remember to stay in the shared lane on the left side of the roadway. The right lane is for motorized transit vehicles only. And if you’re new to biking, or new to Portland, remember to watch for streetcar and MAX tracks. Cross them at a perpindicular angle and be very careful to avoid a crash.

That should do it for now. Any other questions about bike share? Ask away.

There’s a launch event for dignitaries and founding members tomorrow at 11:00 am in South Waterfront with a ceremonial “first ride” over the Tilikum. Then the system launches for the general public at 11:30 am.

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

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mw
mw
6 years ago

super lame that the iOS app requires iOS 8 or higher. There’s still <= iOS 7 users out there… there are dozens of us!

Bob K
Bob K
6 years ago
Reply to  mw

I’m one of the dozens. I was disappointed I couldn’t download it this morning.

grrlpup
grrlpup
6 years ago
Reply to  mw

Agreed on the Android side– it’s 4.4 and up. 4.4 came out mid-2013, so my 4.2 phone isn’t ancient or anything.

Chris I
Chris I
6 years ago
Reply to  mw

Dozens!

nuovorecord
nuovorecord
6 years ago

“If you lock it outside the system area you’ll be fined $20.”

Is is really a fine, or just a convenience cost? The way I look at it, if I need to ride to somewhere outside the service area, and am willing to pay for it, the word “fine” isn’t really accurate.

nuovorecord
nuovorecord
6 years ago
Reply to  nuovorecord

BIKETOWN refers to it thusly… Fee to lock bike at a public rack outside system area – $20.

was carless
was carless
6 years ago
Reply to  nuovorecord

For $20 you may as well hire an Uber.

RH
RH
6 years ago

Woo-hoo! The barrier to entry for cycling has been decreased. For a mere $2.50 you can take one for a spin and not have to worry about maintenance, etc… I’ve had 6 flats this year on new Schwalbe Marathon tires and it’s getting a bit old….and my LBS says I need new rotors and brakes too…on a 2 year old bike.

i wear many hats
i wear many hats
6 years ago
Reply to  RH

what the heck are you riding on?

RH
RH
6 years ago

Simply the streets of Portland and Beaverton…nothing crazy at all. I don’t think they make the Marathon tires like they used to.

was carless
was carless
6 years ago
Reply to  RH

There are different levels of Marathon tires as well. I ride on the low end ones, and have been getting more flats as my treads wear down.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  RH

Have you tried the Marathin Plus tires instead?

soren
soren
6 years ago

I go through ~2 pairs of disc pads each year and rotors every 1-2 years. I descend hundreds of thousands of feet at high speed in grit, sand, sludge irrespective of the so-called “weather”. (The worst weather in PDX is nothing compared to the upper midwest.)

Eric Leifsdad
Eric Leifsdad
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

new sintered rear pads every 6mo (~500mi) on the longtail cargo bike thanks to sw corbett

Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike

The only way I’m going to be able to sleep tonight is if I forget about the launch. This has been a long time coming, can’t wait to see how it changes the conversation about transportation in Portland.

Adam
6 years ago

So excited! Maybe I’ll go for a lunchtime ride tomorrow. 😀

dan
dan
6 years ago

There have been many fabulous videos of people riding Velib bikes “aggressively” (i.e., urban BMX, trials, etc.). Is there any penalty for returning a Biketown bike in un-ridable condition?

Spiffy
6 years ago
Reply to  dan

I’m sure if it’s normal maintenance they’ll just eat the cost… but if you taco’d the rim or something they’ll likely charge you…

I’d be more worried about the fee for locking outside a station if you have a problem with it mid-ride…

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Reply to  dan

Snippets from the rental agreement:

Any Ride Time that exceeds a period of 24 consecutive hours is deemed a disappearance of the BIKETOWN bicycle, until the BIKETOWN bicycle is found or returned to a Rack. [if stolen/missing, you] will be charged a fee of up to $1,500, and a police report may be filed with local authorities

If the BIKETOWN bicycle is returned to a Rack damaged or in a state of disrepair, then You will be charged a fee that is equal to the cost of repair. Such fees may be charged as soon as 24 hours after the BIKETOWN bicycle is not returned or is returned in a damaged state. Motivate will attempt to contact You via telephone and email before charging the Your credit or debit card, by using the contact information You provided when subscribing to the Services.

Also:

You may not bring a BIKETOWN bicycle in a car, ferry, bus, streetcar, MAX or train, or ride or take a BIKETOWN bicycle outside of the City of Portland.

ethan
ethan
6 years ago

For that last part, I wonder how they will handle that if the bikeshare area expands into East Portland. Will Maywood Park be an illegal place to ride?

BB
BB
6 years ago

How on earth would they be able to prove that you damaged it and it wasn’t just vandalized on the rack after you dropped it off? This seems like it wouldn’t work to me. Part of the value in using these bikes should be that you don’t have to worry about repairs..

Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy
6 years ago
Reply to  dan

When dropping off a Bikeshare bike at a stand or? Make sure to take 1-3 pictures of the bike to show that it was in useable shape when left with time stamp. That way when the vandals or the road ragers trash the bike You have some proof that you as the last rider were not responsible for the shape it is in when it is destroyed.

Josh G
Josh G
6 years ago

I want to see an article about the most successful $1 credit collector. Maybe it will be the new Pokemon.
Also, a followup on the potential for carbon-free rebalancing mentioned here http://www.wweek.com/news/2016/07/13/leah-treat-says-theres-no-shame-in-being-65th-to-bike-sharing/

JeffS
JeffS
6 years ago
Reply to  Josh G

– Do you have to spend your minutes to return a bike to a rack?
– Can you retrieve this as a payout, or is it strictly credit?

I guess I’m wondering if the plan was to just encourage people to take bikes from unofficial racks, or to encourage practive re-racking. I’m guessing the former, since you only get half of the unofficial rack fee for your trouble.

Josh G
Josh G
6 years ago

Tri-Met says don’t bring bikeytown on Max. But are they enforcing it? They are discussing alternatives to current penalties on fare evasion… hard to imagine a fine for this. http://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/index.ssf/2016/07/trimet_weighs_lower_fines_alte.html

Spiffy
6 years ago
Reply to  Josh G

Can I bring a bike with me on the bus or train?
No, BIKETOWN bikes cannot be taken on the bus, MAX light rail, Streetcar, or Aerial Tram.

https://www.biketownpdx.com/how-it-works/faq

so it looks like it’s not just TriMet but biketown that doesn’t allow their bikes to be taken onto transit… weird…

Spiffy
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

oh, looks like the same rules apply to Citi Bike so it might just be universal that bike-share bikes aren’t allowed on transit… seems even more weird in Bike City USA though…

Bill
Bill
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

This will hopefully be a moot point since there should be enough BikeTown bikes near the transit stops that you wouldn’t want to lug it onto the MAX.

soren
soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

I doubt the tram will enforce the no biketown bikes rule. I’ve seen people load their bakfiets on the tram.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Reply to  soren

ohsubomb!

(a spin on zoobomb, not a threat)

Spiffy
6 years ago

the BIKETOWN (why is it all caps screaming?!) email from TriMet was hilarious…

“Unlock a ride at the station” – oh? how many bikes do they have at TriMet stations? maybe they should have specified they were talking about biketown stations…

“We like bike share because it extends the reach of transit” – how will it do that when all of the biketown stations are already close to transit? what’s the largest gab between a TriMet stop and a biketown station?

“It also helps to make one-way bike trips possible” – as long as you don’t need a biketown bike for that trip as there are no stations outside the TriMet area…

“Don’t bring the bikes on board.” – but you just said you like bike share, but you don’t want it on your vehicles?

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

It’s all caps because NIKE does their marketing in all caps for some reason. In regards to improving transit, I think the idea is to be able to ride to a nearby MAX station that would be otherwise a significant walking distance. They also provide a last-mile solution for someone that commutes by MAX from the suburbs to the city

i wear many hats
i wear many hats
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

ironic, because the original logo was all lowercase

sabes
sabes
6 years ago

that’s not ironic

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Reply to  sabes

it’s like rain on your wedding day.

Stephen Keller
Stephen Keller
6 years ago

Or a free ride when you’ve already paid.

Justin
Justin
6 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Keller

It’s the good advice you that just didn’t take.

J-P Voilleque
J-P Voilleque
6 years ago
Reply to  Justin

Who would’ve thought?

Ted Timmons (Contributor)

I’ve been watching for the arrival of a local rack, it was installed at the last minute.

I assume they are going to place all the bikes tonight? It’ll be interesting to see them show up, sort of like Christmas.

And the event tomorrow isn’t just for press and bigwigs- it’s also for founding members and other dorks like me.

Social Engineer
Social Engineer
6 years ago

No, the bikes will all be at the launch event, and founding members get to ride them to a station after it’s all over.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)

There aren’t 1000 founding members, and there certainly aren’t 1000 founding members who will be at the launch event. The invitation said this; it’s basically a ceremonial thing:

Want to be one of the first to use a BIKETOWN Station? We’re looking for Founding Members that would like to distribute a bike back into the system following the event.

Cory P
Cory P
6 years ago

I saw four bikes at one station around 5pm

RH
RH
6 years ago
Reply to  Cory P

The one near Widmer had 8 bikes when I swung by it this afternoon

was carless
was carless
6 years ago
Reply to  Cory P

I saw a few dozen bikes at the station next to the Hawthorne Bridge and OMSI/MAX stop.

Spiffy
6 years ago

the biketown system stops 2 blocks from work in industrial NW (5 blocks to nearest station) and 2.6 miles from home (FoPo) which limits how useful it can be to me…

I can’t ride it into work and then bus home in the evening when it’s hot unless I bus miles to the nearest station in the morning… TriMet doesn’t want me wasting my money…

time spent looking for an available bike and walking more than 10 blocks to/from the closest station means that it’s not good for an hour lunch break…

if I could find one to ride out of the city (ever try to get a car2go at 5pm in downtown?) I still couldn’t get all the way home and will need to bus…

I could use it if I’m bar-hopping in the central city, but I plan my transportation ahead of time so I don’t need a bike unless that’s how I got there…

they’ll need to double the coverage area and allow parking at any city staple rack for it to appeal to me… which is why I got a car2go membership (that I don’t use much since they shrank the service area away from my house) and never a zipcar…

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

I live just outside the service area as well at 52nd and Powell, but I have to imagine that eastern Richmond and Foster-Powell will be part of the next phase of station expansion. It would be great to roll out Biketown stations in conjunction with the Foster streetscape improvements.

Jim Lee
Jim Lee
6 years ago

Where and when is the kickoff event tomorrow?

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Reply to  Jim Lee

down by Tilikum. They had an “RSVP by July 8” thing.

Todd Boulanger
6 years ago

Hey what does that double white lane line mean next to the bike share station pod?

Todd Boulanger
6 years ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

…should it not be a single thick line / box?

Phil Richman
6 years ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

It means if you are in a motor vehicle do NOT cross the line and damage a bikeshare bike or else the last rider will need to be fined for the damages… or something like that.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Phil Richman

I think it means the same thing as the double white lines on the Transit Mall. Only cross if you’re passing a cyclist or you have out-of-state plates.

Robert Burchett
Robert Burchett
6 years ago

Are the racks on breakaway bolts? (some of them are on the street grade protected by two paint lines). Better put helmets on the poor things. Betting line on the number of racks dismounted or deformed in the first car/biketow’n crash pictured on Bike Portland: six. I’ll take $5 bets over and under, or $20 bets on the nose. All money paid out unless, of course, I win! You have to find me and pay me cash to play.

Madeleine Anderson-Clark
Madeleine Anderson-Clark
6 years ago

Jonathan, this issue has not died down. I’ve been reading your blog for years, and I’m disappointed that you and so many commenters on this blog immediately decided that the end justified the means for PBOT to quickly implement a pet program. Not doing due diligence, and being dishonest about the implementation protocol creates resentment. This isn’t a cars vs. bikes issue, it is an issue with the integrity of PBOT and the city. That will affect all of us long-term.

Adam
6 years ago

Quickly? If you have been reading BikePortland for years, then you’d know that planning started for Portland’s bike share program back in 2007.

JeffS
JeffS
6 years ago

Dishonesty is pretending that what you’re upset about is the notice, and not the loss of a public parking spot you thought of as your own.

Tony Jordan (Contributor)

…but a very small number of very angry people keep defacing the new stations with comments like “MITLER = NIKE” (Or at least it LOOKS like “MITLER”)

Pat Franz
Pat Franz
6 years ago

You can unlock a bike with a 6 digit account number?

Whoa. Won’t take long for certain people to figure out a few valid account numbers!

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Pat Franz

You need the account number and four digit PIN to unlock the bike.

Andrew Y
Andrew Y
6 years ago

I really, truly think they have settled on an expensive and very poor pricing structure. The only other place I’ve used bikeshare was in London where it cost 2 POUNDS /DAY w/ unlimited under 30 minute rides. Of course ridership is through the roof with pricing like that. Here, if I want to run 3 errands that’ll take 1.5 hours, it’d cost $7.50 minimum. If I’m crunching those numbers as an outsider to riding my bike, I’m going to keep driving, no doubt about it. The daily price needs to come way down, and the per trip price would be better at $1.50 or $2 than $2.50

Tony Jordan (Contributor)
Reply to  Andrew Y

Fortunately, if the pricing keeps the system from working, they can just adjust it. Similarly with the station locations etc.

We have a very flexible system that will adapt.

Beth
6 years ago

I tried bikeshare on a visit to Miami three years ago. The bikes were nowhere near as fancy as what’s rolling out here this week. In fact, they were downright homely and pretty heavy. One speed, because Miami is pretty darned flat. And for the six bucks I paid to enjoy a mellow three-hour cruise around the Deco Distrct, it was fine.
I saw some pf the new Biketpwn bikes today and they mostly look garish and overwrought. Perhaps the tourists will like them. I can’t see the point of a local spending money for the privilege to ride one, especialy if Trimet doesn’t want them on the bus or train.
I dunno. It just seems like money being spent on tourism could be better spent elsewhere these days, that’s all.

Robert Burchett
Robert Burchett
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Hi Beth! –Sorry to say the saddles are much as expected–too squishy by far. Ok, tourists, got it. I didn’t stand over one (haven’t signed up, loitering?) but I had the impression the saddle doesn’t go up very high. Good for going down hills, eh?

Points to bikeshare, everywhere, for producing a lot of real-world bikes: Sturdy, lights and fenders, integrated lock, uniform parts. Sort of a model T thing, but in our case orange. They’re bound to get cheaper too. Without the brain, and with the frame pared down a little? It’s a 40 lb bike that would take heavy use, need little maintenance, and just keep working wet or dry. Seems like it could be a six or eight hundred dollar bike? That’s an import price, naturally.

For newbie riders in downtown Portland I would have suggested a 1/4″ wider tire–I think a person could just about jam those tires into a streetcar track. I have only a little experience with those brakes, and none with shaft drive. I’m interested to see how they work out.

The other Adam H
The other Adam H
6 years ago

Beth
I can’t see the point of a local spending money for the privilege to ride one, especialy if Trimet doesn’t want them on the bus or train.

There are plenty of times I’m somewhere in central city without a bike or car and need to get somewhere that isn’t a convenient/fast transit route. It won’t be a daily use thing for me, but I think it will be really nice to have an option to cut a 20 minute walk into 5 minute ride when I’m out and about.

catbot
catbot
6 years ago

Cannot wait to take one for a ride this afternoon! First, a visit to the library at NE 15th/Fremont (outside the zone, but I’m going to ride there and back as much as possible to create a record of desire for inclusion) and then some errands to the south. This is going to make a huge difference in how I run central city errands. (And I have my helmet by the front door as I am a klutz!). I remember the Yellow Bikes back in the 1990s and I’ve been supporting bike share every since! Bikeytown forever!

Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy
6 years ago

I am still waiting for PBOT to replace the staples they pulled out to put in the Biketown parking. Everyone has to have a “U” lock now to lock their bike to stop signs or parking limit signs where the staples were removed.

Robert Burchett
Robert Burchett
6 years ago

Ahem. Don’t squeeze the saddles.

Andy K
Andy K
6 years ago

Can you please revise the second paragraph in the “Speaking of parking” section to let readers know that they can only park in the blue “FREE LOCK UP!” staple racks if the nearest hub is full – otherwise they will get dinged $2.00? Thx

JeffS
JeffS
6 years ago
Reply to  Andy K

If you’re correct, those stickers are going to create a lot of pissed off users.

kittens
kittens
6 years ago

I have a hard time getting excited for these incredibly “branded” bikes. Frankly, I would be embarrassed to ride one. This is just another give-away to tourists and does nothing to help people who actually need access to transportation options like people east of 60th.

The Disneyfication of Portland continues apace.

Anna
Anna
6 years ago

A question…

I live downtown near one of these new bike stations. I don’t have a car or a bike. It would be neat to use this, but I also have a toddler. Is there a way to participate in this bike share with a 2-year old in tow? Could I purchase something that would be quick (and allowed) to attach to these bikes for the toddler to come along? That would be the only way that I could use this bike share.

Robert Burchett
Robert Burchett
6 years ago
Reply to  Anna

I think Bikeshare wants you to use the technology known as the RLMB–really large messenger bag. And also I suppose, a helmet.

Anna
Anna
6 years ago
Reply to  Anna

I found the answer to my own question on the bikeshare faq, which says that it is only for people over 18.

My googling this found some interesting links. One reporting that other bike share cities have seen a gender gap among users, with far fewer female bike share participants.

On this bike share gap in NYC* “…women are more likely to pick up and drop off children than their male counterparts, and they’re more likely to trip chain — stopping for errands on their way to and from work. So the ability (or inability) to carry cargo could be a barrier for many women…”

One of the comments on that article noted that in France, some bike share bikes have bolted on child seats – which would be awesome.

*http://www.bikeleague.org/content/bike-shares-gender-gap