Busy in Biketown: Top 10 bike share stations and first month stats

Posted by on August 26th, 2016 at 9:54 am

We’re just going to come right out and say it: By every measure that matters, bike share in Portland is an unmitigated success (and yes we’re so confident in that statement we don’t think we’ll jinx it).

In case you missed our story yesterday about how behavioral science explains it, check out this new piece in The Oregonian where reporter Eliot Njus shares this wonderful little gem:

“The program is on-track to be self-sustaining, paying for its operations with user fees and corporate sponsorships. The transportation bureau has said the program won’t depend on city funds.”

So there’s that.

Now let’s take a closer look at the numbers behind all this great news.

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Below are some statistics after the first month of operation followed by a list of the top 10 busiest stations (as per Portland Bureau of Transportation data between the launch date of July 19th through August 19th):

    Number of Unique Trips: 58,834
    Trips per Bike per Day: 1.90
    Miles Traveled: 136,412
    Average Trip Distance (Miles): 2.32
    Time Ridden (Minutes): 1,706,973
    Average Duration (Minutes): 29.01
    Annual Members: 2,477
    Single ride users: 14,397
    Day Pass purchases: 6,010
    % of trips by annual members: 36%
    % of trips by casual users: 64%

Top 10 Biketown stations (and number of total rentals):

    1) SW Salmon at Waterfront Park – 5332
    2) SW Moody at Aerial Tram Terminal – 2753
    3) SW River at Montgomery – 2631
    4) SW 3rd at Ankeny – 2543
    5) SW 2nd at Pine – 2466
    6) NW Couch at 11th – 2448
    7) SW 5th at Morrison – 2290
    8) SW Naito at Ankeny Plaza- 2248
    9) NW 13th at Marshall – 2173
    10) NW Flanders at 14th – 2156

A few thoughts about these stats:

New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-2.jpg

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

– The revenue from annual memberships ($297,240), day passes ($72,120), and single ride passes ($35,993) is $405,353. That doesn’t include overage charges and other fees (which is likely a very significant amount) and it doesn’t include group and corporate memberships.

Hello Waterfront Park! Three of the busiest stations are as close to Waterfront Park as you can get. This isn’t a surprise. PBOT has also said that according to GPS data, Waterfront Park is the most popular place to ride. Remember back in April when we reported that the Portland Parks Bureau didn’t allow stations in the park itself? They felt like there was not enough room in the 30-acres between Riverplace Marina and the Steel Bridge fit them (even though there’s a full-blown bike rental shop at Salmon Street Fountain — the busiest location in the park). We can’t help but wonder if, given the popularity and success of Biketown, the Parks Bureau will change its tune. (Thanks to Jessica Roberts for pointing this out to us.)

Trips-per-bike is a key metric. Ours is 1.9. Not bad at all for a new system, but there’s room to grow. And in the long run it must. Research shows that trips-per-bike rise as station density increases. This is because when it comes to bike share, convenience is the #1 factor in whether or not people use it (according to a 2013 survey of CitiBike users in New York City).

By way of comparison, trips-per-bike on New York City’s CitiBike system is 5.2 and it’s 3.8 on Chicago’s Divvy. Those systems have 23 and 8 stations per square mile respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, NiceRide in Minnesota has 1.4 trips-per-bike with just four stations per square mile. Portland’s system has about 12 stations per mile.

Casual versus annual: So far it’s a 64/36 split in terms of casual users (day-trippers and single trip riders) versus annual members. This proportion is likely to change a lot when skies turn wet and cold. Right now tourists and spontaneous users are buoying the system, but those rides won’t be as common when the weather is bad. However, because the Biketown bikes are excellent all-weather machines due to their lights, fenders, durable drivetrain, and safe, upright position — it’s likely that the number of people who use them for commuting will rise.

East versus west: You’ll note that all of the busiest stations are on the west side. This isn’t a surprise given the aforementioned points about the importance of station density (it’s 19 stations per mile on the west side, and just nine stations per mile on the east side) and the user types mentioned above (tourists and opportunists versus commuters).

What jumps out at you with these stats?

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

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55 Comments
  • Jessica Roberts
    Jessica Roberts August 26, 2016 at 10:10 am

    At least three of these are as close as you can get to Waterfront Park, and three others are in spitting distance. So can we please, PLEASE have bikeshare kiosks in Waterfront Park now? And don’t tell me there’s no room: PP&R is allowing those idiotic surreys rentals to take up massive amounts of room. Kick them out and – just like that – plenty of room for BIKETOWN kiosks.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 26, 2016 at 10:22 am

      thanks for pointing that out Jessica. Great point. Added a bullet point about it.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. August 26, 2016 at 10:34 am

      I think there may be a connection to the commissioner in charge of Parks, and the fact that she is against bike share because people might ride on the sidewalk.

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      • Jessica Roberts
        Jessica Roberts August 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

        The Eastbank Esplanade, at least, was built using federal transportation funding and is a shared-use path in our city’s Transportation System Plan. So it’s not a sidewalk, and it’s legal to ride a bike there.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. August 26, 2016 at 10:46 am

          Yes, that’s true. I imagine the same is true for Waterfront Park. I was postulating a connection between our notoriously anti-bike commissioner being in charge of Parks, and the fact that there isn’t a single bike share kiosk in any of our parks. She was famously quoted that she would not support bike share until cyclists stopped riding on the sidewalks downtown.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. August 26, 2016 at 12:31 pm

            I take that back, there is one station in a park: Director Park.

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              maccoinnich August 26, 2016 at 12:35 pm

              The Director Park station is in the right-of-way, and so isn’t within the boundary of the land owned and controlled by Parks.

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      lop August 26, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      Do you mean to move the Salmon or Ankeny docks across Naito? Or add a dock somewhere else? FWIW when I’ve used the Salmon and Ankeny docks at least nine times in ten neither my origin nor my destination were in the park. Given how close to the park docks already are, how much value would an in park dock add?

      A heat map of where people have left their bikes away from docks (and of where people have disputed the $2 fee together with an estimate of how many of the non disputed charges were real) would be nice to see. Maybe it’ll show that an in park dock would serve a lot of people, or maybe it’ll show that there are better places within the existing service area to add docks.

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 28, 2016 at 6:39 pm

        The city said that people leaving their bikes away from a station (therefore invoking the $2 fee) has been rare. With 60k trips I believe the number was “a few thousand” trips.

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      Erik August 30, 2016 at 10:59 am

      Excellent point, Jessica. Hopefully this Waterfront Park demand for bikes will fuel the fire for the Permanent Better Naito Project. Having bikeways on both sides of the Waterfront Park should relieve some of the traffic on the river side a bit as it will be even more convenient to bike in the NS direction along the river and make Naito safer to bike too for the many commuters that use it every day (including myself).

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    rick August 26, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Lair Hill needs a station. The University of Natural Medicine needs a station near it.

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    m August 26, 2016 at 10:45 am

    It’s definitely an initial success. Whether it is a game changer in terms of a fundamental change in behavior, it’s too early to tell. Let’s see what it looks like 2 years from now when the shine has worn off. When the rains come and the initial excitement wears off, things may turn out more like Seattle. That said, I am glad the program was implemented.

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      Champs August 26, 2016 at 11:00 am

      Montreal or Minneapolis, anyone?

      A quarter inch of daily rain has nothing on subzero temps and snow measured in feet.

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        James August 26, 2016 at 11:22 am

        In my time as a temporary midwesterner, I’ve gotten to know many winter riders that prefer snow and subzero temps to rain. I definitely see more bike commuters during a light snow than an equivalent rain.

        …But I’ll take rain any day.

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          Champs August 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

          As a veteran of the Midwest, I know what you speak of, yet it misses the point. I would absolutely prefer to ride in the snow, but when snow hangs around it becomes ice until mid-March.

          Maybe you’ll wish for rain after all.

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        GlowBoy August 29, 2016 at 11:42 am

        One thing to be aware of with Minneapolis is that our Nice Ride system is not in operation during the cold months. They have been talking about going year-round, however (presumably with studded tires).

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. August 29, 2016 at 11:50 am

          Studded tires are wholly unnecessary for winter riding. Chicago’s Divvy system runs year-round without issue. The roads are so heavily salted and plowed, that there is rarely more than a day or so where the streets aren’t passible by non-studded-tired bikes.

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            GlowBoy August 30, 2016 at 7:57 am

            As an actual Minneapolis resident, I would say that’s just, like, your opinion man.

            Yes, if you want to ride in the central city on the most popular paths, you can probably get away without studs. Plenty of people do, and in Minneapolis the paths are often plowed before the streets are. I’m sure you can get by just fine in downtown Chicago without studs most of the time too.

            But I still often find myself on roads or paths that are unplowed or where snowmelt has refrozen into (often rutted and potholed) ice. The extra security of studded tires makes an enormous difference in navigating areas where winter maintenance is less than perfect. And BTW, I used studs in Portland for many years, after falling on an icy patch. They’re great on those decomposed fall leaves everyone else complains about too.

            I don’t understand why so many Portlanders have this revulsion towards such a useful tool. They’re $75 a pop, a lot less than you’re going to pay to set that broken elbow when you fall. Yes there are people who can’t afford it, but given the number of $2000 (and more expensive) bikes on the street, plenty of us can. And for those who just don’t like studs, Continental now makes a studless winter bike tire using the same technology as studless winter tires for cars.

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. August 30, 2016 at 9:35 am

              I was a year-round rider in Chicago before I moved to Portland and never needed studs. They’d only be useful for maybe one or two years out of the year, and the hassle of installing and removing them wasn’t worth it for me.

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                GlowBoy August 30, 2016 at 3:37 pm

                That’s fine. If YOU don’t find them necessary, fine. Say that.

                But to make the categorical statement that they are “wholly unnecessary” is arrogant, ignoring the realities of people who ride in areas with less-than-ideal winter maintenance, get more snow and ice than Chicago, are less confident, have different skill sets, or have older, more fragile bones.

                I know singlespeeders who find shiftable gears wholly unnecessary, fixie riders who find brakes wholly unnecessary, year-round Portland riders who find waterproof raingear wholly unnecessary, vehicular cyclists who find bike infrastructure wholly unnecessary, and one Grant Peterson who finds a whole bunch of popular stuff stuff (gloves, clipless pedals, 200+ lumen lights, and non-cotton underwear) wholly unnecessary. These things may be wholly unnecessary for some riders, but that doesn’t make it appropriate to extrapolate their experience out to all riders.

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      Al Dimond August 26, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      Seattle has some things in common with Portland; neither has a big pre-auto-age core extending well outside of the CBD like NYC or Chicago. But Seattle also has particularly difficult terrain and a particularly disjointed bike network right at the center of town. It launched Pronto right in the middle of tons of construction projects affecting the cohesion of the bike network and neighborhoods just outside downtown-proper. And then Seattle is just exceptionally bad at the “20 minute neighborhoods” thing, even right around downtown… and then the numbers are weighed down by what’s effectively a satellite system around the U District, which is a whole other story.

      Basically Seattle has had a perfect storm of factors holding bike-share stats down. If the system survives some of those factors will abate but others will be pretty stubborn. Almost no city behaving remotely reasonably (even only as reasonably as Seattle has) should expect such low performance.

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    J_R August 26, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Your bar for declaring bikeshare an “unmitigated success” seems really low.

    Even during great summer weather, the typical bike was used on fewer than two trips and sat unused for more than 23 hours of the day. Does anyone seriously believe the use is going to remain constant or increase during rainy, dark, cool months? Commute traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge falls dramatically during the winter.

    Seventy three percent of the revenues came from annual passes. My guess is that there will be a significant drop off in annual passes during the coming months and a corresponding decrease in revenues in coming months.

    Enthusiasm is great and I hope for success, but I’m certainly not willing to call it that yet.

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      John August 26, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      I wouldn’t expect a drop in the annual passes until after the first year given that they are annual passes and the program just started. I think you’re suggesting we’ll see whether those annual passes decline late next summer. I suspect there are plenty of folks who are not quick adopters of anything, let alone bikeshare. I would expect some folks will drop off, but just as many, if not more, would take their place.

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      gutterbunnybikes August 26, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      Or it might increase, as rainy mornings (when you’ve convinced yourself to hop a bus and not to bike commute) give way to pleasant afternoons and you suddenly find yourself off work wishing to ride home. A casual thing I’ve noticed keeping a keen eye on bridge counts is that morning weather conditions perhaps carries the greatest influence on ridership numbers for the entire day.

      Not to mention that there exist other winter factors that might cause an increase, Blazer/WInterhawks games where parking your car for a single game costs more than the $12 monthly charge for membership. And of course service disruptions to the max line (also usually also occur around the Steel Bridge).

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 28, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Even during great summer weather, the typical car was used on fewer than two trips and sat unused for more than 23 hours of the day.

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    andrew August 26, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Anyone notice the average trip distance and average time? 4.6mph, I know those bikes are heavy and probably slow, but most people could probably walk faster! But I guess if you’re out sightseeing you aren’t going anywhere in a hurry. I’ve seen hundreds of people on those over the last month. I was riding through a crowded waterfront park on a warm Friday night and saw 3 younger guys toodling along on the distinctive day glow orange bikes. I figured I would ride behind them and they would act as a snow plow of sorts for the boards of pedestrians. Not five seconds after I started riding behind them they came to an abrupt stop and held up their phones and started yelling at each other; they found a pokemon…..

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      B. Carfree August 26, 2016 at 11:55 am

      I assumed that the average speed data was skewed down by many people stopping along the way. Sure, their average speed is a fast walk equivalent, but when they are moving it’s much faster.

      I’m thrilled that the average distance is over two miles. That means that, unlike what I had read about NYC, these bikes aren’t just replacing walking but are replacing cars and perhaps a few bikes.

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        andrew August 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm

        I’m sure a lot of the users are out of towners stopping to see the sights. When i ride I usually move along at 15-18mph but i do stop to take in the scenery depending on where I’m at, so I really average about 9mph on any given ride.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. August 26, 2016 at 1:43 pm

          But how do you even know how fast you are riding? Does your bike have a speedometer?

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            J_R August 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm

            We already know you hate speedometers. If someone says he rides 15 to 18 mph, why not just believe him? What difference does it make to you anyway?

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. August 26, 2016 at 3:23 pm

              At this point, I am just being self-deprecatingly tongue-in-cheek. Unless you wish to rehash this argument. 😉

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            gutterbunnybikes August 26, 2016 at 3:35 pm

            Just time how fast you can ride 20 blocks (or fewer and do more math). Nearly every block in Portland = 1/20th of a mile.

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. August 26, 2016 at 3:42 pm

              That’s actually a really good idea and something I had never thought of.

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            andrew August 26, 2016 at 4:01 pm

            I’ve got a cyclocomputer. In a steady cruise I hover around ~16.5 or so, of course this drops going up hills and increases going down them. I usually top out in the high 20’s on a relatively heavy city bike with a 3 speed hub 😀

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        lop August 26, 2016 at 2:47 pm

        People stopping definitely skews the average speeds. At some point it would be nice to see separate data for annual pass vs day pass rides.

        Also, the heaviest usage seems to be west of the river. If you take a 1-3 mile trip downtown/pearl/NW during the day what do you think your average time works out to? It’s easy to hit a couple lights and that can really hurt your average speed on a short trip.

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          andrew August 26, 2016 at 3:57 pm

          I’m sure a lot of the users are out of towners stopping to see the sights. When i ride I usually move along at 15-18mph but i do stop to take in the scenery depending on where I’m at, so I really average about 9mph on any given ride.

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      John August 26, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      A non-Pokemon example… I saw three young guys that were going slow on the waterfront path and just pointing out different things to each other like tourists might do. Hey, check out that building! or Check out that boat! or Check out that fountain! Since they were on bikes, they had to yell everything out and I overhead it all. Stuff locals hardly turn heads for may interest someone from somewhere else. So yeah, they’re going slow, but they’re exploring. This has got to be a huge plus for tourism here. Committing to a half or full day rental with a bike rental company isn’t for everyone, but now folks can satisfy their curiosity of biking around with very little time commitment.

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      GlowBoy August 29, 2016 at 11:55 am

      I bet my own bike’s average speed while undocked (i.e., unlocked) is probably down in the single digits too. I’m guessing BT’s average speed is calculated over the entire time a bike is checked out, including the time it takes to walk it over to a suitable roadway and wheel it up to the dock at the end. Not to mention lots of stops. My own bike’s computer only calculates average speed out of the time the bike is moving, which will be a much higher number.

      I think the “slowness” of the BT bikes has been blown out of proportion. They’re only marginally slower than the Nice Ride bikes we have in Minneapolis, or when compared with other cruiser-type bikes. While riding the BT bikes over the last couple of weeks I observed the first 4 gears felt noticeably less efficient than the top 4 gears. I found myself staying in 5th or higher as much as possible, including starting from a stop.

      My past experiences with internally geared hubs have been that the 3-speed models are substantially more efficient than the 8-speed ones. Given that most of the Biketown area is in the flatter areas of Portland, I wonder if 3-speed hubs would have been the better choice. 8-speed hubs might have 2.67 times as many gears, but only 1.65 times as wide of a range. That’s a significant difference, but I’m guessing the vast majority of riders don’t use the full range of 8 speeds on most rides.

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    John Lascurettes August 26, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Interesting that the corner of SW 10th at Stark didn’t make the list. The rack is almost always near empty at the end of the day.

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    RH August 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Interesting to see that northing west of the 405 made it into the top 10. There’s lots of commercial streets (21st/23rd ave) and density in that area. Maybe lots of folks who live there simply continue to walk since it’s so convenient.

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    lop August 26, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Can you ask biketown/PBOT to release data on the number of rides that end away from stations? And the number of times they’ve given out credits because someone contacted them and said that the ride did end at a dock, but the GPS didn’t pick it up? Counts for the number of rides beginning and ending at each dock, instead of the ten with most originating rides would be nice too.

    Also, something I figured out the other night – if you have an annual membership and start a ride before midnight, and it ends after, then the entire rental time goes against the second day. So tonight if you get a bike at 11:30pm, and bring it back to a dock at 12:30am, then tomorrow you will have 30 minutes of free ride time remaining, not 60.

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      John Lascurettes August 26, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Yes, would LOVE to see a motion-indicative type of graphic that shows the movement of the bikes depending on time of day. Something akin to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1L4GUA8arY

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 28, 2016 at 6:43 pm

        lop, John, we’ve been asking. Trip data is required to be released quarterly, so it may be a while. Getting A->B information (not full trip logs) will be nice; the latter will come out but has privacy issues.

        I want to do a viz like this:
        http://sacks.io/disposable-cars/

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          lop November 27, 2016 at 4:46 pm

          >Trip data is required to be released quarterly

          The system has been around for more than a quarter. Any data releases yet?

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    Asher Atkinson August 26, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    I’d love to see numbers on ‘rebalancing’. I recall reading that rebalancing is a major operating cost, so seeing data on how well the initial placement of stations is working out would be interesting. I pass by the outlying Going St station on my daily commute and often wonder how the empty stalls are being replenished.

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 28, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      They have three vans/vehicles for rebalancing.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. August 29, 2016 at 9:35 am

        I saw one at yesterday’s Timbers match.

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    Kyle Banerjee August 28, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    It would be interesting to break these numbers out by pass type.

    I suspect tourists are buying day passes and jacking the numbers up. This would explain the long average distance and rental and very low speeds and is supported by the large proportion of day pass purchases compared to other passes. I would expect day pass purchases to plummet in the wet seasons. It will be interesting to see the impact of the seasons on single ride tickets.

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 28, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      Roughly the same number of trips taken on day passes as yearly passes. A few less single-trip passes.

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    JJJ August 29, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Excuse me but I was told by people commenting on the website that no one would use the bikes.

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    EricIvy August 30, 2016 at 10:58 am

    What I see is half of the stations in areas with little to no bike infrastructure

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    Phil Richman September 12, 2016 at 8:41 am

    I notice Portland’s most bike-friendly bridge (about to be complete), the Sellwood, is not in the zone.

    As a SW Portlander it’s nice to see the furthest most SW location amongst the highest demanded.

    I heard Nike has 400 bike share bikes for the Nike campus.

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