Special gravel coverage

City survey: Biketown’s 38,000 riders have boosted economy, reduced car trips since launch

Posted by on January 18th, 2017 at 10:05 am

Infographic of Biketown survey released by PBOT this morning.

160,000 trips, 38,000 individual riders and over 312,000 miles ridden since July of last year. Those are just some of the results from a survey about the Biketown bike share system released by the Portland Bureau of Transportation this morning.

In addition to solid usage numbers, the city claims the bikes have boosted business and have helped keep cars off the roads.

Overall it’s more great news for PBOT and the promises that were made for years about bike share.

Here’s the full statement with more results from the survey:

In five and a half short months, the bright orange bikes of BIKETOWN have reduced automobile use, increased access to local businesses and expanded tourism opportunities. Those are some of the key findings of a survey of more than 2,400 people who have used Portland’s bike share system since it launched July 19.

The survey, which included one-time users as well as annual members, found 26 percent of Portlanders using BIKETOWN said they used it instead of driving a car and 64 percent said they are biking more.
The survey shows BIKETOWN supports local businesses. Among tourists using BIKETOWN, 71 percent said they rode an orange bike to reach stores or restaurants. Also, 69 percent of local residents using BIKETOWN said they were more likely to patronize a business near the colorful orange stations.

Since the launch of BIKETOWN on July 19, there have been over 160,000 trips taken on the City’s bike share system totaling 312,690 miles (the equivalent of 49 round-trip rides from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine).
In 2016, 38,000 people have used BIKETOWN in Portland and 3,000 of them have committed to annual memberships. The average trip length for all users is 1.57 miles and the average trip time is 24 minutes.

“We are thrilled with how quickly BIKETOWN has been embraced by Portlanders and visitors alike,” Portland Transportation Director Leah Treat said. “This survey shows BIKETOWN makes it easy for people to use bikes instead of cars for short trips, reducing congestion, pollution and carbon emissions. We are incredibly proud that this new transportation option has helped increase biking in Portland while at the same time strengthening the local economy and supporting local business.”

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The survey, sent to all BIKETOWN users in November 2016, provided additional insight into the usage and popularity of the service. Among the survey’s findings:

BIKETOWN is delivering on its promise to increase biking and reduce car trips:
– 26% of BIKETOWN trips eliminated car trips (among locals)
– 64% of resident/commuters surveyed said they’re biking more
– 20% of locals reduced their car ownership or have considered it

BIKETOWN strengthens the local economy and supports local businesses
– 56% of BIKETOWN tourist riders surveyed said that bicycling opportunities were a factor in their decision to visit Portland.
– 71% of out-of-town BIKETOWN users reported using BIKETOWN to reach shopping or restaurant destinations.
– 69% of local BIKETOWN users said they were more likely to patronize a business near a BIKETOWN station.

BIKETOWN users rated BIKETOWN’s system performance highly, rating all aspects of performance good or excellent.

Said survey respondent and BIKETOWN user Megan Cwiklinski, “I ride a bicycle all the time now because of the convenience of BIKETOWN. I use them everyday to and from work and just to get around in the Portland area. BIKETOWN is so easy to use and I love not having to worry about locking and storing my own bike!”

“My family moved back to Portland in August of this year after having been out of the country for 6 years. We decided to buy one car when we came back and see if we needed a second,” said BIKETOWN user Erik Swanson. “I was not aware of BIKETOWN bikes before moving back, but was pleased to find stations both a block from my house and a block from my work. I have been using your bikes every day to get to and from work and to work meetings downtown, and I love it! My family does not need to purchase a second car, and biking through the city is such a nice way to start and end my day.”

The most popular BIKETOWN station is SW Salmon at Waterfront Park, with a total of 12,387 trips starting or ending at the location. BIKETOWN continues to be popular even as rain and snow fall in Portland. During a recent snow event on Wednesday, December 14, five people joined BIKETOWN as new members with single ride passes, presumably as an alternate means of travel during winter weather conditions.

Looking forward, PBOT will continue to enhance its partnership with the Community Cycling Center to provide discounted memberships to Portlanders living on low incomes through its BIKETOWN for ALL program. The Community Cycling Center partners with affordable housing, social service and community organizations to connect those in need with BIKETOWN memberships, including cash membership options for those without a credit or debit card. In 2016, BIKETOWN for All members took 776 trips.

In 2017, PBOT hopes to increase both the number of trips and number of people using BIKETOWN. As a new service, BIKETOWN’s usage is expected to grow as more people become familiar with this transportation option. Half of respondents said that bringing BIKETOWN to new areas would help them use the service more. PBOT and its partners will continue to review ridership demographics and to look for opportunities to encourage more Portlanders to use the bikes and bring BIKETOWN to new neighborhoods while staying a financially sustainable public service.

PBOT also released a list of its top ten rental stations. Since all of ten were on the westside (downtown), they released a separate list of the busiest stations on the eastside. Here are both lists (note that the graphic shows the stations in reverse ranking order):

The westside:

And the eastside:

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

  • Cory P January 18, 2017 at 10:46 am

    This is great news! Now we need to expand Biketown to serve all of our inner bike friendly neighborhoods. Perhaps even push it out east of 82nd. The current service area boundaries don’t make much sense.

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    • rick January 18, 2017 at 10:51 am

      It is needed in Lair Hill by the Natural Medicine University.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty January 18, 2017 at 10:51 am

    I was a skeptic at first; I am now a convert. The system seems well designed and run, aside from the crap-assed numeric entry keyboards on the bikes.

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    • SilkySlim January 18, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      Another former skeptic turned yearly subscriber here. I always thought: “I already bike. Why would I need to borrow a bike?” But somehow I’ve come up with ways to grab BikeTowns left and right.

      The yearly price is bafflingly low. $144!?! I think I posted this here before, but an annual Trimet pass is $1,100. For the same price you could get a Biketown pass and 382 single trip passes.

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      • joeb
        joeb January 18, 2017 at 9:15 pm

        $144? I spend 2 or 3 times that, maintaining my own bike. Hmm…

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 18, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Confidential to Jonathan… thanks!

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. January 18, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Great news! Hopefully an expansion is in the works. I’m thinking an expansion to Foster-Powell coincided with the Foster Streetscape would be a terrific idea.

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  • Ray Atkinson January 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

    In addition to tracking car trips and car ownership among BIKETOWN users, is Portland tracking how overall traffic congestion is changing as a result of BIKETOWN?

    As this study found, local traffic congestion has declined about 4% where Capital Bikeshare is available.

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  • Allan Rudwick January 18, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Minor expansions should be done this coming summer. I’m thinking including the Freddys/New Seasons near 30th in NE. Super-high theft area which would be nice to take an orange bike to instead of my own

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    • Chris I January 18, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      An extension that includes Hollywood TC and Providence Portland would be amazing. It’s a big distance between Lloyd and Hollywood, and Biketown would be great for “last mile” trips.

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  • B. Carfree January 18, 2017 at 11:54 am

    The press release says the average trip length is 1.57 miles, but the trip number and total mile number given support the 1.93 mile average trip length. Not that it matters much, but I’m curious about this discrepancy.

    The very small optimistic side of my brain thinks most of these trips should have replaced walking trips since they are so short. My reality-based side agrees with the survey data that many of them have indeed replaced car trips. Aren’t something like 45% of car trips less than two miles? This seems to be working well out of the gate, er, station. Hopefully it will continue to thrive and increase in size and reach.

    Also, did I read correctly that less than a thousand trips were made by Biketown for All members out of a total of 160k trips? That seems like a very inadequate reach into the low-income portion of the community.

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    • lop January 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      Typo in the press release. 1.57 is the average trip length for annual memberships.

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    • Steve Scarich January 20, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Interesting point. A 2 mile walk is a lot more exercise (and probably a wash time-wise all things considered) than a 2 mile ride and the carbon footprint is dramatically less (no bike building or other infrastructure). Program seems like a significant increase in carbon use.

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      • 9watts January 20, 2017 at 10:10 am

        I’m glad there are others here not taking these claims at face value. I’m open to and would be delighted to find out that this bike share is a win on all or some of the fronts it is touted to be, but in the meantime I urge others to apply some critical scrutiny.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 20, 2017 at 10:23 am

        It is quite possible for bikes to offset a large number of walking trips, but also enough auto trips that they are a net win.

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        • 9watts January 20, 2017 at 10:33 am

          Of course that is possible; I don’t think anyone is disputing that. But my concern is that we could let our collective enthusiasm get ahead of our need to be vigilant, ask the tough questions, make sure that what is asserted or inferred is actually true.

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      • wsbob January 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm

        “…A 2 mile walk is a lot more exercise (and probably a wash time-wise all things considered) than a 2 mile ride …” scarich

        With bike share, it may be longer, but for myself personally, with my own bike, biking is at least twice as fast as walking. That’s on residential streets and crossing a major thoroughfare with a signal.

        For two miles, a 40 min walk compares to 20 minutes or less with a bike. That’s a significant time savings. Even on one of those heavy bike share bikes, people ought to be able to easily do 7-10mph on level ground. Might be able to carry quite a load, more easily on bike share than carrying by hand or in a backpack.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu January 22, 2017 at 9:58 pm

        A 2 mile walk takes 45 minutes, a 2 mile ride takes 10 minutes.

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      • John January 23, 2017 at 11:06 am

        Quite the contrary. A bike extends the reach of folks to get to more places and faster. There’s all kinds of viable alternatives to reach places, but biking is fun, fast, and healthy way to get further without putting much stress on knees, ankles, etc.

        The carbon cost of building bikes, the “stations”, and any other infrastructure is negligible. To slice and dice this as biking vs. walking is to do a great disservice to the whole concept of human-powered transportation.

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    • GlowBoy January 20, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      Before you assume these bike trips could replace walking trips, remember that in many cases people are making MULTIPLE 1.93-mile trips in a day.

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      • GlowBoy January 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm

        Also, even a single 1.93 mile trip isn’t necessarily easily replaced by walking. 1.93 miles on a bike takes 10 minutes. 1.93 miles walking takes 30-40. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that many 20-30 minute (the difference between walking and biking) blocks of time to spare.

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        • lop January 20, 2017 at 4:34 pm

          For annual members it’s 1.57 miles average length, 15 minute average duration. That might sound slow. But travel by all modes tends to be slow in the denser inner areas. Walking included.

          Taking into account time to walk to and from a dock, lock and unlock a bike, possibly more circuitous routing etc…I’d estimate travel speeds for me are in the neighborhood of 5 mph biking on surface streets, bumped up to 9 if a lot of the trip is on a greenway, compared with walking at 2-3 mph depending on the route. Lights, stop signs, cross traffic, crowds…it slows you down.

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  • SaferStreetsPlease January 18, 2017 at 11:55 am

    There are a ton of renters and immigrant/refugee community members in Creston Kenilworth which is just south of the current map. One of the Catholic Charities mega complexes for immigrants/refugees is literally on the new 28th greenway. It would be almost criminal not to expand there and put up stations on 28th, gladstone (near the C Bar cluster and the Gladstone Pizza cluster would be great), 26th, 42nd, etc. Full disclosure: That’s also my neck of the woods. SO PLEAAAASE COME ON DOWN!

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    • SilkySlim January 18, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Another Gladstone resident here agreeing! I think this is one of the most logical extensions, even continuing it down to Reed and ideally Sellwood too. Not to mention a station at each of the orange line max stops, especially Bybee with its lack of parking.

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      • SaferStreetsPlease January 18, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        Good point about Reed! I imagine the students would use them pretty heavily.

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      • Pete S. January 18, 2017 at 3:43 pm

        In this thread, every Portland resident describes why their own neighborhood is obviously the most logical extension.

        On an unrelated note, LENTS LENTS LENTS

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 18, 2017 at 3:45 pm

          Let’s put some kiosks along the Springwater. That might make getting to Gresham a bit easier for folks down there.

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  • wsbob January 18, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Good news, it seems, some strong usage taking place.

    I’m wondering some whether the stats indicate ages of the people riding. In mind with this, how many people 16 and under, required by Oregon law to wear bike helmets, may be riding bike share bikes rented for them by for people 16 and over, that aren’t required to wear bike helmets.

    Bringing this up, because yesterday in the tweet column, I happened to notice the jeanette sadik kahn’s succinct suggestion that Seattle’s bike share went down the tubes do to that city having an all ages mandatory helmet use law. This despite the fact that some Seattle residents are of the opinion that the helmet law there had little if anything to with the failure of the city’s bike share system, and that the failure had instead, much to do with poor decisions about chosen service areas.

    By the way, in this weblog’s most recent monday roundup, there’s a comment from an apparent Seattle resident presenting their view that it was not the helmet law, but instead, poor choice of some of the service areas that caused the system to fail.

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    • SaferStreetsPlease January 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      They are few, but I remember reading that cities around the world which mandate helmets for bike share are among the worst performing. I don’t think that’s just coincidence, and in Seattle’s case I think the lack of station density and poor locations just made it worse.

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    • EmilyG January 18, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      wsbob, to ride Biketown you’re required to be 18 or over. So the helmet law doesn’t apply to any Biketown users.

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      • wsbob January 18, 2017 at 12:54 pm

        hmm…thanks emily…I wasn’t clear on what the rule on this was. I had semi-thought that people under 18 just couldn’t rent the bikes, but that someone older, like a parent, could rent a bike share bike for their say, 16 year old kid to go on a family ride or other supervised ride situation.

        There’s a lot of 14-17 year old kids that are easily big enough to ride these bikes. Maybe even some 13 year old kids. The system could be missing out on many potential customers. I wonder if biketown is continuing to look into somehow expanding the service to these people.

        Good start nevertheless, if the stats hold up, and especially if increases show in coming months.

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      • Spiffy January 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm

        it’s not as if Biketown enforces their rules…

        and who would know you rented a bike for your nephew unless it was reported?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm

          Biketown knows I did that… or at least now they do.

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        • EmilyG January 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm

          Obviously it’s a hard to enforce rule, but from a legal standpoint, they’ve covered themselves and also don’t need to provide helmets. If possible, it would be nice if they dropped the age limit to 16.

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    • JeffS January 18, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      “some Seattle residents ”
      Meaning the helmet advocates. Right?

      You’ll have to look hard to find someone willing to cross lines on their analysis.

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      • wsbob January 19, 2017 at 9:25 pm

        ““some Seattle residents ”
        Meaning the helmet advocates. Right? …” jeffs

        Or bike share advocates that aren’t necessarily helmet advocates. I think some people really believe in the transportation value of bike share to cities. Helmet use required or not, they want to think that the value and appeal of bike share is so strong, that existence of a mandatory helmet use requirement would not deter bike share systems from succeeding.

        I have to ask myself the question ‘How many people will decide not to ride bike share bikes, either due to use of a bike share helmet being required, or due to bike helmets not being available for rent at point of rental?’.

        In Portland, second hand word of mouth reports by observation, about use of bike helmets while riding bike share bikes in this city, is the only gauge I have to know how many people are using bike helmets with bike share. Only a couple reports at that, and the observation was that lots of people riding bike share without bike helmets.

        Out here in Beaverton, use of bike helmets by people riding their personal bikes, by my observation, seems to be common…more common than not using bike helmets. Without some form of a trial run, I’ve no way of knowing for certain, but this rather suggests to me that if bike share had helmets available, there would be people wanting use them while they rode bike share; not because the law requires their use, which it doesn’t in Oregon, of people that are over 16 years old…but because they prefer to ride, using a bike helmet.

        Getting back to the use of bike helmets while people there road Seattle’s bike share bikes…despite the city having the all ages bike helmet law, how common might it have been for people to just go ahead and ride bike share bikes in that city, deciding not to bother with the helmet, and take a chance the police wouldn’t enforce? By the way…did any bike share riders in Seattle, get cited for not using a bike helmet while riding?

        If the city’s all ages helmet use law, really did contribute significantly to the demise of the system, that’s important to determine with some certainty whether that actually was the case. There’s a big difference in credibility between saying, for example, ‘ based on counts, compared to overall usage, ‘X’ may have contributed to this having happened.’, and just guessing…’use of personal safety equipment was a condition of using the system that factored largely in causing the system to fail.’

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  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 18, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    I sure wish they’d release the open trip data that was promised- and is in the contract.

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    • Spiffy January 18, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      same here as I’m weary of these self-congratulatory numbers… some of them aren’t what they present them as…

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      • lop January 18, 2017 at 2:14 pm



        Biketown is at ~1000 trips per day. With a thousand bike system. Hardly impressive.

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        • Chris I January 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm

          In its first year… are you saying we should get rid of it already?

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          • lop January 18, 2017 at 3:38 pm

            Nope. Not at all. I’ve done more than my share of those 160k trips and would be upset if the system were to fold.

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        • Jonathan R January 19, 2017 at 7:49 am

          New York’s system recorded 39,766 trips with 10,000 bicycles last Thursday, a day when it didn’t get above 34 degrees. How long is Portland going to keep a system going where many bikes don’t leave the dock for an entire day?

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          • Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 19, 2017 at 8:53 am

            There are a few more people living in NYC than PDX.

            Biketown’s winter usage isn’t exactly weak.

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            • Jonathan R January 19, 2017 at 9:31 am

              Population is immaterial. Does it make sense to run a bike-share system where the bikes are used an average of once per day? I would think the floor usage ould be twice daily, covering a single user’s single round-trip. Any less than that and bikes are sitting out, unused, for more than a day at a time. I am sure that BikePortland readers could come up with a bicycle promotion program that would have better results.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. January 19, 2017 at 9:15 am

            Raw numbers are useless. What are the numbers per-capita?

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            • Jonathan R January 19, 2017 at 9:33 am

              Why did Portland buy such a large bike-share system if the bikes are getting used only about once a day? Seems wasteful and inefficient.

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  • Phil Richman January 18, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    This is interesting coming on the heels of the news out of Seattle. How do these figures compare to projections? How is the system faring financially? What will it take for social acceptance to take hold the same as Uber/Lyft has in this town?

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    • lop January 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      When the bike-share system launched in July, city leaders hoped it would get more Portlanders on bikes for more trips, taking cars off the road. In the first month, users took nearly 59,000 trips on Biketown bikes, traveling 136,000 miles and making significant progress toward a goal of 400,000 rides in the program’s first year.

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      • Allan Rudwick January 19, 2017 at 1:32 pm

        so only about 100k trips since month # 1. 🙁

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  • Ian January 18, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    a little more salt in the wounds for us Seattlites

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  • EmilyG January 18, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    As an annual pass holder, it’s so great to see these very positive numbers for Biketown! Kudos to PBOT and Motivate for running this program so well thus far. I hope this means they’ll be able to expand soon, especially into the eastern NE neighborhoods. It would be fantastic to have a Biketown station at each MAX stop out to Gateway (or even farther).

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  • John Liu
    John Liu January 18, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I was a big supporter of bikeshare (former member of NYC Citibikes) but skeptical about Biketown’s “dockless” model. Nevertheless, I ponied up for a founding membership and . . . have been pleasantly surprised. The system seems to be working very well.

    However, what is still missing is financial information. is Biketown making money, or at least not losing too much money? What is the cost from theft, for rebalancing? Anyone know where this data is?

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    • Maxadders January 18, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      I wouldn’t expect to hear anything about finances unless they’re positive. So in the absence of good news, it’s only natural to assume that the program is very much operating in the red… especially during winter months. “Fake it ’til you make it,” as the showbiz saying goes. Transparency is not a priority.

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    • Phil Richman January 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      John, Those are my questions too. I’m a big fan of the system, but confess to having built up substantial $1 credits from removing the bikes I use from a priority station (right outside my work). This makes my member pass is essentially free (to this point), but also raises the question about revenue generation. At least we still have 4 1/2 years left, but especially in the center city there are streets that need redesign (on-street parking removal and/or lane reallocation) in order to make it feel safer for the masses.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. January 18, 2017 at 1:48 pm

        The $1 credit is intended as an incentive to have the riders do some of the work of bike balancing, thus saving costs on labor.

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      • maccoinnich January 18, 2017 at 2:46 pm

        For every $1 credit you received somebody else paid a $2 fee, creating $1 of net positive revenue for Biketown.

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        • Phil Richman January 18, 2017 at 3:37 pm

          Why do you say somebody else paid a $2 fee? That’s only in the case a rider finishes a ride away from a kiosk. Maybe it’s happening more than I suspect. On the west side the station density seems high enough there’d be little reason to do so, but maybe it happens more frequently on the east side.

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          • maccoinnich January 18, 2017 at 9:39 pm

            Reading your post again I realize I misinterpreted what you were saying. I thought you were picking the bikes up from a non-biketown rack.

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        • lop January 18, 2017 at 3:48 pm

          I’m not sure you’re correct. I’ve been hit with a few $2 charges even when I locked a bike at a dock, but more often have received a $1 credit when I got a bike from a dock. Biketown took off the $2 charges when I told them I left it at a dock, but I stopped emailing them to do so because with all the $1 credits I’m not paying much if anything anyway.

          But the point is I get ‘unearned’ $1 credits much more often than $2 charges. I remember a bunch of complaints that people were getting those charges when locking at docks. I think biketown might not have the bikes ‘remember’ if they charged someone $2 for being left away from a dock, and the credit is just based on where the bike thinks it is when it wakes up. And that they either add a larger buffer around docks for determining if charges should be applied than if credits are given or that GPS is more accurate when it’s been on for a while than when bikes or just starting up.

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  • Dweendaddy January 18, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Have they released other data, like rides per bike per day? That is a useful metric that many systems use to track usage and compare to other programs.

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    • Allan Rudwick January 18, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      160k rides per day and roughly 180 days — <1 ride/bike/day. this is kind of lower than the goal of 2 rides/bike/day. I think this is actually bad news on some level. I'd love to see financials but I'm sure we'll never get that

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      • Ted Buehler January 18, 2017 at 8:13 pm

        The last 40 of those 180 days are going to have really low numbers relative to what would be expected for an average winter. And the 40 days previous were unusually wet. And the first 100 days would be low because of folks getting accustomed to the system.

        So I wouldn’t think 1 trip per bike per day is necessarily an indicator of poor utilization. Not yet.

        And I’m a annual member and have yet to take my first ride. So the next 180 day period will have at least a dozen rides from me on the books.

        Ted Buehler

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      • AJ_Bikes January 19, 2017 at 11:55 am

        I’m imagining a full spring/summer will lift the average numbers up quite a bit. Starting in mid-July meant missing a lot of prime biking time in 2016. As a personal anecdote, I only have 6 rides in January so far and had 18 in December, while I averaged nearly 40 a month from the July launch to November. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ride/bike/day in 2017 is significantly higher than it was for the first 6 months.

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  • Maxadders January 18, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I wonder if PBOT has any numbers on illegal downtown sidewalk riding since Biketown launched.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu January 18, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    5.5 months = 165 days, 160,000 trips, 1,000 bikes, 1 trip/bike/day. Of course that includes Dec and Jan.

    Motivate is supposedly sharing Biketown data here https://www.motivateco.com/use-our-data/

    Since Bikeshare is run by PBOT, I imagine financials will emerge at some point, even by public records request

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 18, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      That URL provides info about the current status of the system, but no financial or historic use data (as far as I could see).

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      • Stephen Keller January 19, 2017 at 8:59 am

        I was just thinking that someone ought to be capturing the data from the “.json” pages (at http://biketownpdx.socialbicycles.com/opendata/gbfs.json) and stowing it in a historical database. No doubt, PBOT is doing this, but the data is there for anyone to capture. The capture algorithm wouldn’t be too hard. Wake up once a minute, read the main page and download each of the data files listed. Motivate appears to update the data once a minute and the format looks relatively self-documenting. I wonder if they’ve published a how-to or tutorial document somewhere.


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  • The Bike Concierge January 18, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Since my wife started a new job at MLK and Burnside, Biketown has simplified the last leg of her commute- she gets off the Max at OMSI and grabs a bike to get the rest of the way to work.

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  • Eric January 18, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    If the most popular station is near the salmon street fountain, what percentage of biketown users do some kind of loop around the waterfront and then return the bike to the exact same station, effectively traveling 0 miles?

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. January 18, 2017 at 7:56 pm

      The bikes all have GPS, so they know how far you’ve ridden. It’s not simply a calculation between the start and end point.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 18, 2017 at 11:46 pm

      The weird thing is that if they were to ride in the opposite direction, they’d have effectively traveled negative 0 miles. I’ll bet Biketown’s software is not equipped to compute this properly.

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  • Clark in Vancouver January 19, 2017 at 8:36 am

    This is great but not surprising. I’ve never ridden a Biketown bike but I hear from people who have that the bikes themselves are very nicely designed from a comfort perspective. Comfortable geometry and handlebars. I’ve ridden the Vancouver, Seattle and Toronto bike share bikes and while they all work and are okay, I find Seattle’s and Vancouver’s bikes to have more of a mountain bike style of riding rather than the upright “Dutch” style that the Biketown bikes seem to have.

    Vancouver’s Mobi system so far has been successful despite being in a jurisdiction that hasn’t yet got rid of its all-ages mandatory helmet law.

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  • 9watts January 19, 2017 at 8:48 am

    “The survey, which included one-time users as well as annual members, found 26 percent of Portlanders using BIKETOWN said they used it instead of driving a car and 64 percent said they are biking more.”

    I have written and conducted surveys myself, and will register my suspicions about these particular responses. Let’s consider for the moment who is asking the questions and who is answering them. The potential for phrasing these questions in a leading manner, and for customers to answer them strategically seems awfully high. We all know, whether we participate in bikeshare or not, that driving less and biking more are both behaviors that are considered socially valuable. We’d probably all like to think of ourselves as doing more of one and less of the other—a priori—whether or not we are bikeshare members.


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    • Kyle Banerjee January 19, 2017 at 9:37 am

      I take all surveys with a grain of salt, specifically for this reason.

      My own feeling is that the reporting is more rosy than the reality even if Biketown is a good idea. My anecdotal observations are that they seem popular with tourists and that use is disproportionately high when people don’t want to take their own bikes out — the proportion of Biketown to non Biketown riders has skyrocketed in the snow even if the total raw numbers of riders are low.

      What they look great for is low speed touring in the main area and short hops near the center.

      I would buy a membership except both my home and work are outside the service area. I’ve had some free credit from the beginning which I still haven’t gotten around to using.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. January 19, 2017 at 9:40 am

        I agree, self-selecting, self-reporting survey data is inherently unreliable. What I’d like to see is VMT per-capita graphed with miles cycled per biketown customer.

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      • AJ_Bikes January 19, 2017 at 11:28 am

        Annual member here, and fortunate to both live and work in the service area. I usually use mine for a) trips to and/or from work (often I’ll bike one way and bus the other, due to laziness/weather/etc), b) trips to get groceries, and c) when I *just* miss a bus and don’t want to wait.

        My average trip length is 1.6 miles, so I’m right in that “short hop” category. For recreational rides, I still use my own bike, but for trips with a purpose, I love the flexibility of ditching the bike partway through a trip chain in favor of walking or transit, and not worrying about constantly locking/unlocking my own bike, fretting about it or its parts getting stolen while I’m away from it, or hauling it on the bus if I decide I’m done riding for whatever reason.

        I am among those thinking that there’s a bunch of people who would love to use it, if it only went to more neighborhoods and commercial areas. Really hoping to see extensions north, south, and east so more people have a chance to utilize it.

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  • Justin Miles January 20, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    This post fails to recognize the tragic implications of accommodating Bike Town’s infrastructure. Just think of all the poor people who have had to park slightly further away from their destination because of the bike stations. Maybe they even had to circle the block. Those are seconds, or more likely entire MINUTES of their lives that they’ll never get back. Personally, I’m horrified seeing the mighty bike lobby pushing the agenda of people who choose to ride bikes against the interests of everyone else who does not want to be forced to walk further and burn their hard-earned calories.

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  • Justin Miles January 20, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Also, is anybody horrified at how low people are setting the saddles? Their poor knees!!! 🙁 I want to put signage on the bikes for where the saddles should be set.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu January 21, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Not to mention the danger of riding without positive foot retention. I think I’ll start a public safety campaign to equip Biketown bikes with clipless pedals. 🙂

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  • Phil Richman January 30, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Few people know Biketown can easily be free for many. Here’s how: “Priority hubs” at certain locations pay a $1 credit for removing a bike from the station and returning it to a different station. For anyone who lives and/or works near a priority hub the $1 credits can help offset the costs of use for any user.

    Here is a list of the 8 “priority hubs” as tweeted by BikeTown in October of last year: SE Clay at Water, SE Ladd at Hawthorne, NW Flanders at 14th, NW Couch at 11th, SW Morrison at Pioneer Courthouse Square, NW Raleigh at 21st, NW 13th at Marshall, SW Naito at Ankeny Plaza.

    Now if it’s the case you consider yourself a bike advocate then you must be in favor of BikeTown, whether you use the system or not. Thus far I’ve seen no greater opposition than people who ride regularly so I imagine if you’ve read this far and dislike Biketown you may comment. Bike advocates might consider accumulating credits in such a way that you are willing to share your Biketown Membership with others to increase it’s use and visibility and/or consider parking away from a hub when you have reached your desination ($2 charge). By utilizing the “hold” feature and/or parking a BikeTown bike away from a hub you are helping to increase it’s visibility through increased use of the system. Other users may receive $1 credit by retrieving bikes outside the hub, again adding users (potentially).

    My point with all this is in order for the public will to be in place for Vision Zero to become a reality BikeTown must succeed. The numbers of people riding bikes in the City must clearly outweigh the numbers of other modes (sans walkers). If you consider yourself a bicycle advocate and have not used Biketown please identify someone who can help you try it out and understand how it works.

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    • 9watts January 30, 2017 at 10:41 am

      “My point with all this is in order for the public will to be in place for Vision Zero to become a reality BikeTown must succeed.”

      Seems like kind of a stretch to me. I’m all for more people biking and have in the past weighed in here on fleet rebalancing, but the idea that I’d run around moving orange bikes around (and walking back?) for $1 credits for a system I am not using seems an odd business model, frankly.

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      • Phil Richman January 30, 2017 at 11:52 am

        It’s not a business model, it’s a way of being that is free and void of ownership and can cost less than a tune-up. No doubt the VZ efforts and infrastructure implementation in places like NYC are happening faster because of the success of their bikeshare systems. Until riding a bicycle is seen as something that is mainstream, safe and socially acceptable it will only be a fringe activity in Portland. I’m very curious to know bike advocates objections to BikeTown. Most of what I’ve heard is “I have a bike.” Don’t we all?

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        • 9watts January 30, 2017 at 11:57 am

          For me the jury’s still out.
          I was a skeptic, and wrote about my objections here to the corporate sponsorship angle, back when Nike was chosen/chose Portland. I’m open to learning that bikeshare is fantastic, the solution to our woes, the missing link, etc. But in the meantime my impressions have been that the orange bikes seem to complement a lifestyle that is very spontaneous, which isn’t something I’m particularly familiar with, so have a harder time understanding the ways it works for non-tourists. I’m less enamored of the degree to which this caters to the sight-seers, personally, but remain interested in the finer grained understandings of how these bikes are used by locals.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty January 30, 2017 at 12:05 pm

            I find that I use them more than I expected; once when I had a weekend visitor and wanted to get him from the train station to my office, another when I was taking Max from the airport and needed to get downtown, but the trains weren’t running due to anti-Trump protests, another when I swam across the Willamette and needed a way back to my regular bike, et. al. All unusual one-off cases, but I’ve accrued enough of them that I’ve found the service useful.

            For me they’re another option; one that is more fun than the bus, cheaper/greener than Car2Go, faster than walking, and less douchey than Uber.

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            • 9watts January 30, 2017 at 12:29 pm

              Those are interesting examples. Thanks. Exactly what I was fishing for.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 30, 2017 at 12:32 pm

                Anything that keeps me from using Uber is a win for the universe.

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              • 9watts January 30, 2017 at 12:35 pm

                Yeah, that is how I feel about cars, TV, Amazon, air travel, Precision Castparts, not to mention fascist nincompoops

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          • Phil Richman January 30, 2017 at 2:04 pm

            9watts and anyone else who considers themselves a bicycle advocate, but a skeptic when it comes to BikeTown, I invite you to learn more by asking any member to go for a ride. Annual members can check out up to 4 bikes at a time. Like some, I initially joined as a philanthropic effort to be supportive of the system. Like Hello,Kitty though I’ve found the bikes to be much more useful and time-saving. I’d like to share my credits with any bike advocate who is not already a member.

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            • 9watts January 30, 2017 at 3:36 pm

              “I invite you to learn more by asking any member to go for a ride”

              I appreciate the offer and your sentiment of making this work for a larger pool of people. However to me (who bikes everywhere for very nearly all purposes) this is a solution looking for a problem. My bike is an extension of me. I take it with me wherever I go, like I take my shoes and my keys with me. I don’t really see a situation in which—again, for me—this system would be useful, make sense, offer some kind of tangible benefit. Heck, I don’t even have a smart phone.

              From following conversations here over the years about bikeshare I understand that for folks who find themselves spontaneously changing their plans and who didn’t arrive wherever they are when the spirit moves them to change their plans by their own bike, this offers something useful, but I don’t operate like that. I use bike trailers to haul stuff all over the metro area. I know my bike and its strengths and weaknesses. I’m not looking for anything else. Besides why would I rent something when I already own an equivalent one that suits me just fine?

              Which is not to say that others don’t find this tremendously useful, and I celebrate this endorsement, this discovery; I’m only responding here to your assumption that this could offer (unexpected?) utility to folks like me.

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              • Phil Richman January 31, 2017 at 8:37 am

                Sure thing, the offer stands for anyone. I’ve simply found there tends to be a long list of misconceptions about BikeTown. Do you think you need a smartphone to use it? A card? I was surprised to see Jonathan mention using a card. I’ve found it much easier to just memorize my account number and pin. No keys, no lock necessary. Also, the bikes are quite fast if you know how to ride them, which is different than a chained bike.

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              • 9watts January 31, 2017 at 8:53 am

                “Do you think you need a smartphone to use it? ”
                I had assumed so, yes. But knowing that I was not in the market I also admit to not paying close attention.

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