Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Reduced fares, cash payment part of new ‘Biketown for All’ program

Posted by on October 27th, 2016 at 10:21 am

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

Now available to more Portlanders.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A $3 per month membership, the ability to pay with cash, and partnerships with social service and housing organizations are all part of the City of Portland’s new Biketown for All program.

The plan debuted this morning makes good on the city’s promise to make it easier for Portlanders with low-incomes to use the 1,000 orange bike share bikes that hit the streets last summer.

Under the new plan, qualifying individuals get access to a monthly membership price that’s 75 percent lower than the $12 per month standard fare. These reduced cost memberships will be available in three-month blocks instead of the usual 12-month commitment. The new program also allows people without bank accounts and credit/debit cards to use the bikes.

In order to qualify, people can be referred by organizations where they receive social services like housing, their Oregon Trail Card, job training, and so on. After making that connection they must attend a workshop that covers how to use the system and includes a hands-on riding skills clinic. These workshops will also soon be available to people not affiliated with any social service organization as long as they fill out an application and attend a workshop.

Advertisement

The City released this video today of Jon Horton, one of the first Portlanders to take advantage of a Biketown for All membership:

There are 500 of these reduce-cost memberships available thanks to grants from the Better Bike Share Partnership and Motivate, the operator of Biketown. The Better Bike Share Partnership gave $75,000 to the Community Cycling Center back in May and the City of Portland announced today that Motivate has kicked in another $54,000.

Northeast Portland-based Community Cycling Center will run the skills workshops and handle the social service organization referral program. This is something they are already adept at as they’ve done something very similar with their Create-a-Commuter program for many years.

This announcement comes just days after a similar program was launched by Bay Area Bike Share (a system also run by Motivate). Portland is now just the third city to offer a cash payment option for bike share membership.

The new program is just the latest in Portland’s effort to spread the benefits of bike share to a wider spectrum of income levels. Their operating contract includes provisions to hire employees from underserved populations and pay them a living wage. Biketown also got an equity boost when Nike’s $10 million sponsorship allowed the system to cover a 60 percent larger service area that now extends well beyond the central city.

Five years ago the City of Portland got pushback from community advocates who said equity concerns were not being addressed proactively. Biketown for All makes good on promises made and is now being hailed by some of the same people who used to oppose it.

For more on why bike share makes such a positive impact on wealth inequality in cities, read this excellent article by Michael Andersen published a few days ago at BetterBikeShare.org.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

63
Leave a Reply

avatar
16 Comment threads
47 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
31 Comment authors
VincesorenJohn LiuAndy KJF Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Kathleen McDade
Guest
Kathleen McDade

Well, that’s nice, although it would be nicer if Biketown were available in East Portland where many of the potential users of this program are.

Adam
Subscriber

Seems like a good idea. Would be better if BIKETOWN expanded to include lower-income neighborhoods.

Beth H
Guest

“In order to qualify, people can be referred by organizations where they receive social services… After making that connection they must attend a workshop that covers how to use the system and includes a hands-on riding skills clinic.”

Huh. Really?
Other Biketown renters don’t have to run this gauntlet. All they have to do is pull out a credit card and ride away.
This new round of Biketown treats poorer riders differently simply because they’re poor and somehow can’t be trusted as much.
This is rather tone-deaf and frankly, more than a little offensive.
Surely a better approach could have been considered.

DickButton
Guest
DickButton

I guess the program still needs to get on its feet, but for whatever reason I was surprised to hear that these lower rates were subsidized.

So Biketown/Nike still make the full amount for each rider? Seems like they could just take it on the chin.

rick
Guest
rick

Lair Hill needs a station.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

So does Sellwood – with the Springwater Trail running thru it, that would make sense.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Finding ways to make services like this more available to lower income residents is a good thing.

But this is not an easy nut to crack. In addition to the size of the service area, many lower income people have longer distances to commute, and cycling infrastructure is not nearly as good.

I am very curious to see what (if any) side effects emerge from not requiring CC or bank as this will make it impossible to recover penalties/damage.

johnr
Guest
johnr

“Biketown will fail, this is a terrible idea!” Oh, wait, what? How could they not have included the entire city?! smh. Patience. Respect.

Ray Atkinson
Guest

“Portland is now just the third city to offer a cash payment option for bike share membership.” More than two bike share systems launched a cash payment option before Portland because at least the Bay Area, DC region, Philadelphia, and Boston launched cash payment options before Portland. I’m thrilled to see Portland launch a cash payment option!

Randy
Guest
Randy

Rat running is destroying Portland bikeability. More rats = less people on orange bikes.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_running

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Anyone have any data yet on Biketown bike theft? Have any been stolen?

Alder Houseian
Guest
Alder Houseian

Workshops include:
1) a tutorial of the bike! – new technologies are not immediately friendly to all
2) safety on the road! some folks haven’t been on a bike in a really long time, maybe never in a downtown area, it’s always good to refresh
3) a free helmet! oh heck yea
4) a short survey! grant providers sure do like to see measures of success
5) a test ride! to make sure BIKETOWN for All is your thing before laying any money down
6) gathering together for a group ride! building community! totally fun!

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

Sounds like tokenism.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Why does it sound like tokenism?

JF
Guest
JF

Reading the website, it still only allows for 90 minutes per day riding time and a penalty of 10 cents per minute. There is also no mention of the $20 lock outside of service area fee.

It has the feeling of trying to hit low income areas where there are not many bike share services with fees.

I would be interested to see how ridership of people qualifying for this program compares to the ridership of people using the traditional annual membership structure.

Andy K
Guest

This is awesome – I frequently get asked how the program works and how much it costs. (some people are blown away by $2.50 for 30 minutes)