Machines for Freedom launch at Western Bikeworks

Portland inks $750,000 Biketown sponsorship deal with Kaiser Permanente

Posted by on March 16th, 2017 at 12:44 pm

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

Now an even healthier option.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland’s Biketown bank account just got a bit healthier. $750,000 healthier.

That’s the amount of a new sponsorship deal between the City’s bike share program and Kaiser Permanente. According to Dani Simons of Motivate, the company that operates Biketown, the deal will be spread out over five years (that’s $150,000 per year). With a $10 million investment, Nike is still the founding and title sponsor of Biketown. Kaiser’s cash will allow it to become the exclusive sponsor in the health insurance and health care industry category.

In exchange for their financial support, Kaiser will get branding on 25, or one-fourth of all Biketown stations. They’ll also get logo placement and other tie-ins inside the Biketown mobile app (which has been downloaded 41,176 times) and on the web-based version of the system map. When users click a station to reserve a bike, there’s a drop-down menu that allows them to shop for a health insurance plan right on the Biketown website. Here are a few screenshots of how it looks:


Come for the bike rental, stay for the health insurance.

Advertise with BikePortland.

Kaiser has also joined Biketown’s group membership program in order to offer a bike share discount to their 11,000 employees in the northwest region.

Kaiser is no stranger to working with the City of Portland on active transporation initiatives: They’ve been the lead sponsor of the Bureau of Transportation’s Sunday Parkways program since its inception in 2010.

PBOT Commissioner Dan Saltzman said in a prepared statement today, “Not only is Biketown a great transportation option, but by getting people out and pedaling through Portland, it promotes public health.”

The City of Portland said Kaiser’s support will, “support high-quality Biketown operations year-round at no on-going cost to taxpayers.”

That last part about taxpayers is important. Despite the need for — and success of — bike share in Portland, politicians promised from the get-go that it would be provided without public subsidy. While we subsidize every other form of transit, because bike share uses bicycles, the politics have always been different. On Tuesday night during a joint meeting of the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committees, Commissioner Saltzman admitted he was wrong about bike share, “I was the most vocal critic of Biketown; but I’ll be the first to say I was wrong,” he said. Then Saltzman added, “But I still don’t want to fund it with city money.”

Biketown currently has 2,745 annual members and the system has been used by 45,542 people for 189,320 trips.

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

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61 Comments
  • Allan Rudwick March 16, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Will this lead to expansion 🙂 ?!? This is the main question out of today’s exciting news

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    • John Lascurettes March 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      That was my question too. There are racks just tantalizingly out of convenience range for me in two directions. If it was closer, it would make it so much more desirable to just hop on and go downtown and not worry about my own commuter. As it stands now, the walk to a rack would take as long as just taking a bus downtown.

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  • Kyle Banerjee March 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    It would be great if there could be a shift in thinking so public money would be a real option.

    Bikeshare reduces congestion while freeing up parking and is a draw to certain areas — something that benefits even people who hate bikes.

    But there is also real value in developing programs and systems that don’t rely on external help so everything still works when the political winds shift.

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  • Keviniano March 16, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Way to step up Kaiser! I’m glad to see the system developing a stronger financial foundation.

    I, like Commissioner Saltzman, don’t to want fund Biketown with city money either. In fact, I don’t really want to have to pay for anything I or my fellow citizens benefit from. But, you know, if you want to be the biking capital of the US and do things like provide viable alternatives to cars, that involves spending some money…

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  • rick March 16, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Now let us get sunday parkways for either SW or NW Portland.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Brian March 16, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      I’d like a bike-thru window for Por Que No that also serves you cold beer while you are waiting in line.

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      • Kate March 17, 2017 at 9:15 am

        I see this as something that could really bring the City together!

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        • Brian March 17, 2017 at 9:36 am

          Bikes, beers, tacos, and conversation.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy March 17, 2017 at 9:13 am

      It’s been tried. Turnout is either very low or administering the ride is overly complex and costly in certain areas.

      You can start your own, though!

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    • Chris I March 17, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      Talk to your city councilor. You guys have 3 out of the 4 over there… and they mayor!

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  • David March 16, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    I thought Motivate got 20% of this per their contract. This is still a win to be sure but it’s disappointing to see so much of these sponsorships effectively going towards management of the system.

    Also I wonder if Commissioner Saltzman would at least agree to fund faster cleanup of gravel from winter storms (yes, it’s still out there in too many places), restriping bike lanes that have worn away, or improvements in bike infrastructure, with city money. Too many of these activities seem to be predicated on regional, state, or federal grants/matching. If this bike share is working wouldn’t you want to enable more people to use it, and increase usage by those already signed up?

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  • J.E. March 16, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    The in-app advertising looks really prominent and tacky. I’d expect that if they’d matched Nike’s investment or something, but for a paltry $150k/yr (a mere 7.5% what Nike initially ponied up) I’m shocked they get to have in-app advertising that’s so invasive. Their sponsorship deal should have just applied to any expansion projects (i.e. they get branding on every new station or bike that’s purchased thanks to their sponsorship). This just feels like the user experience is being worsened for… what, exactly?

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  • Phil Richman March 16, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    On Tuesday Night Commissioner Saltzman admitted to being afraid to ride a bike on Portland streets, but also admitted to being afraid to endorse a “20 is plenty” campaign. At the same time he spoke in favor of separated facilities/traffic calming. Who will get Commissioner Saltzman to go on a ride around town?

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  • John Lascurettes March 16, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    “I was the most vocal critic of Biketown; but I’ll be the first to say I was wrong,” he said. Then Saltzman added, “But I still don’t want to fund it with city money.”

    By all means, let’s not spend any money on sports venues then (both our major sports teams’ venues were paid for in part with city funds). Or neighborhood parks. Or any other infrastructure that gets city subsidies that don’t benefit absolutely 100% of the populace. The limp political will of Saltzman is sad.

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    • 9watts March 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

      I wish we had more of this conversation, as to why we’re not funding this with public dollars rather than excitedly lauding corporate sponsors. In my view if the alternative is go with corporate sponsor or skip it I’d go with the latter. I think advertising is a worse disease than the cure bikeshare offers.

      I do appreciate the way Jonathan introduced this chapter in the bikeshare saga:
      “That last part about taxpayers is important. Despite the need for — and success of — bike share in Portland, politicians promised from the get-go that it would be provided without public subsidy.”

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Jon March 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    I really like that Kaiser decided to sponsor active healthy transportation. Some of the other health systems spend a lot more money sponsoring spectator sports like soccer and basketball (Moda center home of the Blazers, and Providence Park for soccer.)

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    • Pete March 16, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      Thrive, Portland!

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    • John Lascurettes March 17, 2017 at 9:07 am

      They’ve been one of the major sponsors of Sunday Parkways for at least a couple of years running.

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  • Disgruntled Employee March 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    As a KP employee and cyclist, I just don’t care. I don’t understand the appeal of BikeTown. In my unscientific polling, non-cyclists aren’t motivated by BikeTown either. No non-cyclist I’ve talked to has considered bike-share to bicycle more often, or ever for that matter. I don’t see this as a good marketing move by Kaiser either. How many people choose their health-plan based on a sign on a bike-share stand anyway? Probably the same number as choose health-care based on sports-venue naming rights. Now I’m going pull my pants up to just under my nipples like the grumpy old man that I am and wait for the angry replies to my angry old man rant.

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    • Pete March 17, 2017 at 9:10 am

      You should go for a ride and become gruntled again…

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    • John Lascurettes March 17, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Well, your unscientific polling was incomplete. I know of one guy that moved here a couple of years ago who was living car-ownership free, getting around by foot, bus and car2go. As soon as membership to BikeTown opened up, he bought a helmet and added that to his regular transpo options.

      Regarding choosing insurers. Those that self-insure can be marketed to. As well, as through my employer, I can choose Cigna or Kaiser. I’ve always gone with Cigna because the network is more convenient for me, but between Kaiser supporting Sunday Parkways and now BikeTown, they have my interest. Open enrollment is coming up for me this month and it’s tempting to switch.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy March 17, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Maybe we know each other! I’m a KP employee and cyclist also.

      I echo your sentiment about biketown…but that is because I have my own bikes already and the thought of renting one is simply something I would never consider, because I don’t like to ride clunkers.

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    • Chris I March 17, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Probably a better move than Moda, who spent millions on that basketball arena sponsorship. Would you rather Kaiser try to attract beer-swilling sports fans?

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      • Jon March 17, 2017 at 2:46 pm

        As someone who used to have and loved Kaiser insurance through work but now only has Moda for dental and Providence for medical I was very unhappy to see Moda spend a bunch of money to put their name on the old Rose Garden then have Providence spend a bunch of money on the Timbers soccer. Providence has the worst billing system. Nobody at work can ever tell what they are going to pay for any medical procedure until 8 months after the service and 5 “this is not a bill” statements. It was great when we had Kaiser coverage and I actually knew what I had to pay for service.

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      • Beth H March 17, 2017 at 4:25 pm

        As long as we’ve tipped that cow again (it’s been awhile), can we find any correlation between MODA’s sponsorship and an increase in premiums? Adn might we find a similar correlation between Kaiser’s sponsorship of Parkways and now Biketown and a potential spike in premiums? Because all those sponsorship dollars have to come from SOMEwhere and I’m confident they won’t be coming from the shareholders.
        In my view, this amounts to little more than cheap advertising for the too-much-for-profit healthcare industry.
        Rates a great big meh from me.

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        • 9watts March 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm

          “little more than cheap advertising for the too-much-for-profit healthcare industry.”

          Yes.
          And we shouldn’t be surprised by that. This is how it works, our society. Some people find this state of affairs just fine; others imagine a world without so much cognitive dissonance, so much inequality, concentration of wealth at the top.

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    • GlowBoy March 17, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      Believe it or not, Portland is a little late to the bikeshare game. It might seem like an new, unproven concept to many Portlanders, but it’s not. It’s in place in a lot of other cities, and your private poll notwithstanding, it is quite successful elsewhere (and, initially, in Portland too). Not all local cyclists use it, of course. But many do, and it brings more newbie cyclists out of the woodwork, and it’s great for tourists. Don’t like it? Don’t use it. I can think of far worse public-dollar uses of money in the transportation sector.

      Personally, even though I’m an experienced rider with several bikes of my own: as an ex-Portlander who visits frequently for business, I use BikeTown every time I’m there; and at home in Minneapolis, I don’t have Nice Ride in my neighborhood, but often take transit into the core service area and use the sharebikes to get around.

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  • SaferStreetsPlease March 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    For the love of everything holy announce an expansion already.

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  • Mike Quigley March 16, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Thank you for not using the word “awesome.”

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  • soren March 16, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Portland’s station density and area coverage are poor in comparison to more successful programs. For example, Seattle’s system had similar station density and recently failed. Unless we expand Biketown ASAP I fear we will end up repeating Seattle’s mistake.

    https://priceonomics.com/public-bike-sharing-analyzing-the-usage-data-in-us/

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    • Middle of the Road Guy March 17, 2017 at 10:54 am

      well, if that proves anything it is that sometimes even well funded, feel-good ideas will fail because there is not sufficient demand for them to be sustainable.

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      • soren March 17, 2017 at 1:07 pm

        Portland and Seattle’s bikeshare program are not well-funded. Station density is low and area covered is low.

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    • Chris I March 17, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Seattle also had topography issues and a ridiculous helmet law to contend with.

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      • wsbob March 20, 2017 at 10:44 am

        Apparently, Seattle’s and much of Washington’s all ages helmet law is something residents want. I don’t know exactly why people there prefer an all ages helmet law over a 16 and under law such as Oregon has. I’m open to listen and think about resident’s reasoning for the law they’ve put in place.

        At any rate, unless there’s reports of numerous citations issued in Seattle to back it up, or remarks from many residents concerned about getting a ticket for not wearing a bike helmet while riding the city’s bike share…I’d have to dismiss suggestions that the city’s all ages mandatory bike helmet use law had much to do with bike share not working out there.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty March 20, 2017 at 2:47 pm

          If you’d used the Seattle bike share, you’d know why the helmet requirement was a detraction from using the system, as well as an extra cost burden on running it. That wasn’t the only (or even primary) problem the system had, but it didn’t help.

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          • wsbob March 21, 2017 at 11:20 am

            If you had some personal experience with Seattle’s bike share system, you tell me why you believe the helmet requirement actually worked against the system’s success.

            I remember from some recent stories/discussion here on bikeportland, one Seattle resident in particular, commenting that the helmet requirement in Seattle, had virtually no effect on the system’s success or failure, as it turned out to be.

            He didn’t go into details…how do you truly measure something like that on simple observation and anecdotal stories? What I believe he was inferring in saying what he did though, is that people were riding the bikes without helmets, and the police weren’t citing people for not wearing them. True or False? I’d be curious to know more about this.

            A bigger issue, I think, that may be an obstacle to wider public use of bike share, is that, despite what some people seem to want to believe…maybe quite a number of people want to use bike helmets while riding bikes, whether or not the law requires them to use one…and the lack of availability at point of rental, to buy or borrow a bike helmet, may significantly discourage people from riding a bike share bike.

            How’s Portland’s bike share system doing on this issue? Are the system operators trying to monitor in some way, the degree to which users of Portland’s system are using bike helmets? Are they trying to get some sense of how users of the system feel about opportunities for using helmets while riding the bikes?

            It’s too bad Seattle’s bike share didn’t work out; big city, too much motor vehicle traffic. Another chance to figure out how to have it work, may come along. A natural evolution of bike share in cities having obstacles such as hills…are e-bikes. Obviously more of a system investment to provide e-bikes rather than pedal exclusive bikes, but I would tend to believe there is a definite market for e-bike availability in bike share systems where hills have to be ascended.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty March 21, 2017 at 12:21 pm

              I have some. It was just another thing to deal with in an already lackluster system. It introduced more friction for the user, more expense for the system.

              I doubt it was the critical item that put them under, but the helmet situation didn’t help.

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              • wsbob March 22, 2017 at 12:21 am

                Seems to me the Portland bike share system has a lot going for it. It’s no small coup that Nike is a major force supporting Portland’s system. The bikes look great, partly because…and I don’t know how much of a hand the company had in it, but they’re in Nike’s signature orange and silver colors…their visuals may have been designed by Nike designers.

                Plus…the bikes are a very visible presence out on streets like Jay, St, also Millikan Way, around the company’s main headquarters, west of Murray. I’d like to think that Nike and Beaverton .might see huge potential for bike share if it were available to the housing north, and also, west of the campus. Fred Meyer on Walker and 158th is effectively the neighborhood’s town center. Time-wise, it’s a walk-able area, but by bike could be so much easier and faster.

                No doubt, difficult for some reading here, to know what I’m describing without looking at a map. It’s worth doing a little of that. Baseline Rd west of 158th has some brand new multi-story housing in construction, right now. About a 15 minute walk from fred’s on Walker. Don’t know the facts, but have heard this new housing was designed to be lean on parking availability for motor vehicles. Would that help to have residents be a strong user of bike share if it were available? Like to think about that, but I can see some wrinkles. Maybe one’s own bike would be better in this situation.

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    • GlowBoy March 17, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Seattle’s an outlier.

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      • soren March 17, 2017 at 3:27 pm

        So is Portland.

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        • GlowBoy March 20, 2017 at 6:49 am

          How is Portland an outlier in terms of bikeshare success? Near as I can tell, only in the sense of being extremely late to the game.

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  • lop March 16, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    >Biketown currently has 2,745 annual members and the system has been used by 45,542 people for 189,320 trips.

    Did biketown ever release the data they’re supposed to? Have anything on miles ridden so far?

    If motivate ever releases the data to do so it would be great to see a story comparing the winter decline in biketown ridership to the decline in bike counts over the bridges. Or one on what share of crossings over the hawthorne or tilikum bridges are done on bike share.

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  • JJJ March 17, 2017 at 6:59 am

    “Biketown currently has 2,745 annual members”

    That’s bad.

    Oh, Alta/Motivate? Im shocked.

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  • mh March 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

    How ’bout Kaiser putting a station on their Interstate campus?

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    • Middle of the Road Guy March 17, 2017 at 10:56 am

      I think a bike station would better at a central location for people wanting to get to places compared to a destination. That would be like putting a car rental place at the beach instead of at the airport.

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      • John Lascurettes March 17, 2017 at 12:15 pm

        Bike share systems need to be in the neighborhoods of origin and destination or it doesn’t work. You have a time limit on the bike (even as a subscriber) and it doesn’t work if there’s not a station near your destination.

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        • GlowBoy March 17, 2017 at 2:56 pm

          Actually, it can work quite well even if it isn’t in your neighborhood, if you can see past bicycles as the only car-free option out there. Last I checked (which was less than a month ago), TriMet ran a decent transit system.

          I live nearly two miles from the nearest Nice Ride station, but I use our Nice Ride system all the time. I often take the bus to an area within the service area, use the bikes (and/or transit) to run errands and make various trips – often ending up miles from where the bus dropped me off at the beginning of the day – and then take the bus home. And before car2go pulled out of this market, I occasionally used that as an option to get me somewhere within the service area.

          Go by multimodal!

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      • mh March 17, 2017 at 6:06 pm

        Yeah, but I don’t want to pay a penalty to park the thing when I go to an appointment. I’m already paying monthly membership fees for something I don’t use.

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    • Chris I March 17, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      As a Kaiser member, I would love that. But I’m pretty sure they’d have to pay people to ride up that hill. That station would have major balancing issues.

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      • mh March 17, 2017 at 6:09 pm

        Failing Ped Bridge saves my lungs. Ride up Interstate only once, and discovered I don’t like tasting blood from my lungs.

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    • Disgruntled Employee March 20, 2017 at 10:45 am

      How ’bout Kaiser provide more secure bicycle parking for their employees at the Interstate campus first?

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      • Pete March 20, 2017 at 2:31 pm

        It’s a shame they don’t have that there. My wife works at Kaiser in Santa Clara, CA, and has a secure bike locker (though she did lose a locked bike stolen from in front of their main door racks). She helped rally fellow bike commuters for more lockers, so you could point out our campus’s success to your management. Kaiser frequently sponsors charity rides and teams here, and we pointed out that they need to put their money where their advertising was and ‘eat their own dog food’, and they were receptive and responsive to that. (We also printed up police reports about a few stolen employee bikes locked to the racks to illustrate the need). Good luck!

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      • mh March 20, 2017 at 3:31 pm

        Did they not add any in the newest garage? I know there are racks inside the older garage at EIN, and I assume there are some security cameras on the entrance/exit. I did do a ground-level look into the new-ish garage and didn’t see anything.

        Consider how long the 6′ path between the parking lot and the Failing Ped Bridge took.

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  • Chris I March 17, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Does this increase or decrease the odds of an expansion that would include a station at Providence Portland? I would love to pick up a bike at Providence and ride to my doctor at Kaiser Interstate…

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty March 21, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I have some. It was just another thing to deal with in an already lackluster system. It introduced more friction for the user, more expense for the system.

    I doubt it was the critical item that put them under, but the helmet situation didn’t help.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      This for wsbob…

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