Biketown celebrates one year of service this week

It’s cool. I’m 1-year-old. No big whoop.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Can you believe Biketown is already one? This Wednesday is the official anniversary of the launch of of Portland’s bike share system.

To mark the occasion, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has a full week of festivities and promotions lined up (see below). We’ve also got the latest numbers to show that — while it’s not perfect and there have been bumps along the road — Biketown has been a success.

As of last week, 71,348 people have used Biketown. Motivate Inc., the company that operates our system, said that breaks down into 3,482 active annual members and 67,866 casual members (people who have purchased a day pass or single-ride ticket).

But ask any bike share expert and they’ll tell you the most important metric is how many times each bike is used per day. Over the past year Portland’s bikes have averaged .93 trips per bike per day. As we reported in April, that’s not great. Back then, a PBOT spokesman said the number was comparable to other cities our size. The bad news is Biketown needs to increase that number over time; the good news is that according to Motivate the average number of trips per bike per day has doubled since July 1st (thank you sunshine!) to a much more respectable 1.95.

A few other fun stats: People have ridden a total of 574,693 miles so far on about 300,000 trips for an average distance per trip of about 1.9 miles.

Numbers only tell part of the Biketown story. The system itself has been reliable and PBOT and Motivate get high marks for customer service, marketing and management. I say this mostly because I’ve used the system quite a bit myself and I haven’t heard a peep from anyone with a major complaint about how they were treated by Biketown staff (and believe me, I’d hear it). I’ve been impressed with Biketown’s marketing — an important aspect of the system given that transportation is a very competitive market.


Speaking of which, check out the slate of promotions during its big birthday week:

We’ve covered all the ups-and-downs of Biketown’s first year — from it’s station location controversies and major bout with vandalism, to its expansion and supplemental sponsorship deal with Kaiser Permanente.

And who could forget when those daredevils at The Lumberyard launched a Biketown bike into the air on a huge ramp or when we tested one during Snowmaggedon?

And of course there was that one time when someone raced one of the heavy and slow orange bikes in a MTB race out at Portland International Raceway…

We still don’t see as many Biketown riders on commuter routes during rush hour as we’d like. And PBOT needs to add a lot more bikes and stations to the system so that more Portlanders can have access to the dense network (and the conveniences that affords). But overall, the system seems to be healthy at its one-year mark.

Year two will present the system with even more challenges and expectations: When will Biketown integrate with TriMet’s bus and rail network? Where and how should it expand? How will Portland adapt to a possible influx of hot private start-up companies like Spin, Ofo, Limebike, and Mobike?

Stay tuned for more coverage later in the week.

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

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