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“This is awesome!” Photos and notes from the Biketown launch event

Posted by on July 19th, 2016 at 1:34 pm

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Mayor Charlie Hales and his wife Nancy are followed by a host of other dignitaries including Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield and U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer on the inaugural Biketown ride on the Tilikum Bridge.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“This is awesome!”

Those three words by Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat at the launch event for Biketown summed up many people’s feelings. It is indeed awesome to finally launch a bike share system nearly 10 years after the idea was first hatched.

Today in South Waterfront hundreds of people gathered to mark the occassion. There were the requisite dignitaries, electeds, and advocates. After a few speeches about 150 of them rode across the Tilikum Bridge and back to mark the ceremonial first ride.

Scroll down for photos and notes from the event…

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A man named Steve brought one of the old Yellow Bike Program bikes to the event. He said he’s friends with the creators of that defunct program and the bike has been in his garage since it launched in 1994.
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“We put $2 million into this program and all I got was a helmet,” said a joking Metro Councilor Bob Stacey.
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Commemorative helmet from Nutcase.
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Advertise with BikePortland.
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Portland’s U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer said bike share, “Is the cherry on top of our livability sundae.”
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A day to remember for sure.
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Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Metro President Tom Hughes.
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PBOT Director Leah Treat with a strong showing of political support behind her. There were three (ouf of five) members of Portland City Council at the event.
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PBOT staffer in charge of the Biketown project Steve Hoyt-McBeth has put more time into this than anyone else. It was a huge day for him. To his right is PBOT’s Active Transportation Division Manager Margi Bradway, a key part of the Nike deal that made the system a reality.
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PBOT Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick.
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Biketown General Manager Dorothy Mitchell.
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Portland’s First Lady Nancy Hales.
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A very big day for Director Treat. Along with Vision Zero, bike share is her top priority and the most important piece of her legacy so far.
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Bicycle Transportation Alliance Board Chair Justin Yuen.
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TriMet GM Neil McFarlane.

Steve! It’s launched! You did it! Congrats!
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This is how many Portlanders feel today.
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Met these guys on the Tilikum. They said they were waiting at the station so they could be first to ride when it opened.
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And just like that, Portland has bike share. Snapped this on my way back from the launch event. Now it’s just another part of the city fabric.
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Shot this image from my desk in my office. I can see the station at SW 5th and Oak from here and it’s been fun watching everyone interact with the station.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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  • Allan Rudwick July 19, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    So pumped!

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  • grrlpup July 19, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Aw, yellow bike. <3 <3 <3

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  • Jim Lee July 19, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    It was awesomely innovative! Or maybe innovatively awesome?

    Ought to be an “epic” in there too somewhere.

    But I rode there on my own ORANGE BIKE. Lucky that, for the 30 minute “free ride” I was offered required turning over my financial information.

    Scarfed a free lunch in response.

    Totally innovatively, awesomely, epic!!!!!

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  • bikeninja July 19, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I am going to predict one popular use for Bikeshare based on current rack locations. Ride yellow line up to skidmore stop, grab bike from bike share and eat or bar-hop on mississippi/williams, then ride down to Moda Center for Blazer game or concert and park at rack there (hint, the Moda Center rack will need to be much, much bigger).

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    • RH July 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Another popular event will be the WNBR! 🙂

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      • rachel b July 20, 2016 at 1:04 am


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      • Audrey July 20, 2016 at 8:08 am

        I’m actually legitimately concerned about this… haha. Might need to carry around a pack of baby wipes for the first few days/week after WNBR to wipe down the seat!

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        • rachel b July 20, 2016 at 1:24 pm

          There are not enough baby wipes in the world.

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    • PdxMark July 19, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Bikesharing to a Nationals baseball game in DC it became clear that bikeshare services need to specifically serve big events, like games and things. Maybe a temporary staffed portable station to absorb alot of bikes on arrival, and pass them out afterwards. Absorb 150 or more bikes for the event, and then send them on their way afterwards…

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      • eawrist July 20, 2016 at 8:40 am

        The CaBi station at George Washington usually has a person manning the several rows of bikes at rush hour. I expect something similar at PSU, particularly when there’s a big event like farmers market etc.

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  • Esther July 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Have seen lots of folks biking with them in my area adjacent to Pioneer Square.
    Have also seen a guy using the RFID chip embedded in his hand (!!) to try to check one out. The scanner wasn’t reading his RFID chip but was blinking like it was struggling to read it. (He says you can get piercers/tattoo parlors to implant them and they are not FDA approved, FWIW.)
    Also saw a lonely biketown bike leaning against a city-owned/biketown-stickered staple, locked to itself but not to the rack. A “brand Ambassador” was working at the adjacent biketown dock so she retrieved it when I notified her. REmember to actually lock them to the rack, people.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 19, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      Fun fact: the lock also locks the rear wheel, so you could theoretically forget to lock to a rack and the bike would still be immobilized.

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      • Esther July 19, 2016 at 3:14 pm

        Yeah, plus they have a GPS locator. But still.

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    • bikeninja July 19, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Do you get a discount if you get implanted with the Nike approved RFID chip, which I assumes gives you a better place in line to buy collector shoes when they come out in addition to working the bike share.

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      • paikiala July 19, 2016 at 4:06 pm

        fun facts, returning a bike share bike from outside the service area gets you a credit ($1?). leaving it outside the service area costs you $2, unless it is on hold – though time still ticks away.
        If you find one blinking, the lock has not been engaged – free ride (for you)!

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        • Todd Boulanger July 19, 2016 at 5:01 pm

          Glad to hear that the operators have added an incentive for users to help rebalance the network…but I would think that the incentive would have to be increased for it to be effective vs. sending a staffer with truck to drive bikes to other pods.

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          • nuovorecord July 20, 2016 at 8:42 am

            It’s always a simple thing to adjust the rates if the need is there.

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          • Scott Mizée July 20, 2016 at 1:37 pm

            Todd, I saw what appeared to be about 6 BIKETOWN employees this morning hopping on bikes at a full station to rebalance the system.

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        • Dan G July 19, 2016 at 6:35 pm

          I believe that locking it outside the service area will cost you $20. The fee for locking it up inside the service area, but not at a BIKETOWN rack is $2.

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  • kittens July 19, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    yay, all-hail our benevolent corporate overlords: NIKE!

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    • Matt S. July 20, 2016 at 8:30 am

      At least it’s a company, at it’s fundamental level, is entirely about fitness and athletics, which translates to overall health. Well, and Money! But hey, it very well could be sponsored bye Coke or Pepsi, so we should be glad that it’s a local company that does do a lot of good for the surrounding area. Have you ever been on a basketball court around here, they’re donated by Nike. I’ve never seen an ADIDAS court of turf field…

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      • Matt S. July 20, 2016 at 9:49 am

        Pardon the typos.

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    • canuck July 20, 2016 at 9:31 am

      So which, in your eyes, socially acceptable corporations/nonprofits were even in the race to financially support this project?

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  • bikeninja July 19, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Do these have a hub generator to to keep the battery charged for the computer and lights ( are light looking things actual lights?) or are there elves that keep them charged up at night?

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    • paikiala July 19, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      the hub generator powers the lights while riding, all the time. It only is there to power the lights – not electric assist.

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    • GlowBoy July 19, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      The electronics are charged/powered by the embedded solar panel.

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  • Mike Quigley July 19, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    The giddiness is palpable. Like a Trump rally!

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  • Scott Mizée July 19, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Just saw a businessman arrive at a meeting on a BIKEYTOWN. 🙂

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    • Spiffy July 19, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      I guess downtown it’s cheaper and faster than a cab if both locations have a rack nearby…

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      • Andy K July 19, 2016 at 8:13 pm

        Even if there’s no hub at your destination it should still be faster and cheaper than cab/uber/lyft. Just take the $2 penalty and lock it to any public rack within the 8 square mile service area. $2.50 for the ride and $2 penalty is less than you’ll pay for someone to drive you.

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  • Monica July 19, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Pretty today, Tagged tomorrow. Welcome to Portland.

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    • Matt S. July 20, 2016 at 8:30 am

      But it’s ART…

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  • Todd Boulanger July 19, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Good luck to PBoT and Motivate and Portland!

    Excited to see those bridge numbers in a month…

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  • kyle July 19, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Just took my first ride – worked perfectly. I was happily surprised it was prorated and not a straight $2.50 trip, so my ride from the grocery store was $1.50. I guess I missed that in the information. Thumbs up.

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  • Dan G July 19, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    I took one for a 13.5 mile spin for a couple hours. A good ride.

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    • Dan A July 20, 2016 at 7:15 am

      Wow, you climbed to Pittock on one. Good work!

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  • devograd July 19, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    I love seeing all those smiling faces. Good job, everyone!

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley July 19, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Great coverage of an important event. Thanks, Jonathan.

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  • Jack G. July 19, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    A few thoughts from my first experience using the Bikeshare. From the perspective of someone who only occasional rides, and commutes by transit from Washington County.

    -Signing up was simple (once the non-annual option was activated), and I like the website and the interactive system map.

    -I didn’t have much trouble unlocking the bike, but I found that you really have to push the buttons in on the controller.

    -The riding experience was comfortable, and the bike lends itself to a more relaxed riding style (which I personally enjoy). I did a short ride along the Waterfront and the Better Naito bike lane (make it permanent please!)

    -The bike was decently maneuverable for a few tight spots that I rode through. I was worried that the weight of the bike would be a challenge, but I really didn’t notice it.

    -I liked how quiet the drive shaft system is, and that I didn’t have tor worry about rolling up my pant leg.

    -The bright orange color of the bike has the advantage of being highly visible. I noticed quite a few people looking at me (or more accurately, the bike).

    -While I liked it overall, there were a few negatives. First, the seat post clamp was too loose, so the seat fell down twice on my short ride. My guess is that it wasn’t tightened enough when it was assembled.

    -The gearing, while mostly smooth, would sometimes come out of gear. I’m not sure what the cause of this was, as it was usually when I was just riding along. I’m not used to an internally geared hub, but this didn’t feel normal.

    -Locking the bike for the first time was a little tricky. It took me several attempts to get the U-lock into place.

    -I was going to try the “report a problem” function on the bike controller, but before I could, the bike had logged me off, and was ready for a new rider. Maybe I was supposed to do that before I locked the bike, but that wasn’t clear.

    -Overall, I was impressed with the bikeshare. Perfect? No, but not terrible either. I’m not sure how much I’ll use it personally, but I like having the option available to me. I’ll certainly be more likely to go places that are too far for walking, and where transit isn’t convenient. If I still lived in the inner east-side, I would probably signed up for the annual pass. But for where I live, and for how frequently I’m downtown, it makes more sense for me to use the per-trip option.

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    • nuovorecord July 20, 2016 at 8:45 am

      Good review. Your experiences match mine. It appeared that the seatpost QR clamp can be tightened. The bike I rode (Sneaker bike!!!) had a slightly loose clamp and I snugged it down a bit.

      Also, my ID card didn’t work on the two bikes I tried using it on, so I had to manually punch in my member #. Did anyone else have this problem? I think I need a new card… :-/

      In all, I love this new bikeshare system! WTG PBOT!!!

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      • Bill July 20, 2016 at 12:21 pm

        The same thing happened to me with my RFID card. The lights would blink like it was trying to be read but it didn’t go through on the 3-ish bikes I tested it on yesterday. I was debating asking for a replacement but punching in the member ID doesn’t take that long so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. July 20, 2016 at 12:27 pm

        You have to hold the card over the number buttons, not the screen. I made this mistake a few times.

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      • Allan Rudwick July 21, 2016 at 9:53 am

        I had similar issues w/ seat tightness – found that the screw isn’t very easy to tighten by hand. I’ve seen this with multiple bikes so far.

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  • Champs July 20, 2016 at 7:22 am

    The Orange Menace was everywhere in Portland yesterday. I am optimistic about exciting times ahead, even after the honeymoon is over.

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    • Matt S. July 20, 2016 at 8:33 am

      I think they should have painted the bikes a depressive grey.

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  • RH July 20, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Just curious, will any of you judge riders of these bikes differently if they are not wearing helmets? I currently wear a helmet but am now asking myself ‘why?’ since bikeshare users don’t.

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  • reader July 20, 2016 at 8:53 am

    How interesting that all the dignitaries got helmets, and wore them.

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    • Bob K July 20, 2016 at 9:27 am

      I’m sure that if they didn’t wear helmets people would have focused on that instead of the launch of a cool system. Such is the state of cycling in the U.S.

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    • Allan Rudwick July 21, 2016 at 9:53 am

      I intentionally didn’t wear one to make sure some photos ended up with the helmet-less

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  • Maxadders July 20, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Wow, Leah Treat thinks it’s great? Shocking

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  • Kyle Banerjee July 20, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I saw quite a few of the bikes out yesterday and this morning.

    Given that there’s no way to endo these, cars in the service area move slowly, and no one rides these bikes faster than a decent running clip, it’s hard to imagine a crash where head injury is a real risk.

    As someone who has crashed hard enough to be knocked out while wearing a helmet and believes they are generally a very good idea, I would be as likely to wear a helmet while using biketown as I would when jogging.

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  • Vince July 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Bikeshare? Yawn. Now if the article was about how suddlenly all bike lanes were connected, they were free of overhanging branches, all stoplights worked for bikes, and I could park my bike dowtown with fear of it getting stolen, then I’d be excited.

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    • Sarah July 22, 2016 at 12:08 am

      I’ve had a bike stolen and for me part of the appeal of Biketown is that I don’t have to worry about bike thieves! I can ride wherever I want, lock up the bike, and forget about it.

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  • Goff V July 20, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Biggest thing for me is that there will be more people on bikes out there, which is awesome. Participant levels for bike share usually start high, it will be interesting to see if it stays that way.

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