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Biketown upgrade: Expansion eastward, new payment options, more free parking

Posted by on May 31st, 2018 at 1:42 pm

You can now Biketown in the 50s.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

Aiming to make the service easier and cheaper to use, the City of Portland has announced that Biketown will expand eastward, have more payment options, and will no longer charge a $2 fee (to annual members) for parking outside a designated rack.

Service area expansion since July 2016 launch.

The new service area is a significant expansion of the current map. You can now park Biketown bikes as far east as 53rd/57th and NE Cully Boulevard. The previous service area ended at 21st/33rd. The expansion allows people to use the bikes on the 50s bikeway corridor. The nonprofit Community Cycling Center hails the move, saying the program will now reach Andando en Bicicletas (ABC), a partner organization that advocates for active transportation in the Cully neighborhood. “Adding the option of bike share near the Hacienda CDC community addresses barriers the ABC group has long identified, including start-up costs, storage, and maintenance,” says Community Cycling Center Director of Programs and Enterprise Jonnie Ling.

This expansion comes just one year after the first expansion of the service area. In May 2017 Biketown expanded into Alberta and Swan Island.

Along with a larger geographic scope, users have a new payment option. Instead of the current option of committing to a $144 annual membership, a $99 upfront fee will now get you a full year of unlimited rides. And a new pay-as-you-go plan will be available for a $5 sign-up fee and $0.08 for each minute thereafter. Don’t want to commit to a full year? There’s also a new month-to-month plan for $19. If you’re already in the Biketown system as a single ride member (at $2.50 a ride and $0.10 for rides over 90 minutes), you will automatically converted to the new pay-as-you-go plan (with the sign-up fee waived).

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Motivate Inc. and the Portland Bureau of Transportation have also decided to make the entire service area a “super hub zone” for annual members. That is, you’ll be able to lock a bike to any public rack at no charge. And for non-annual members, PBOT is designated 22 more bike corrals in the expanded area as free Biketown parking.

This move from Biketown follows a wildly successful experiment of free rides and no parking restrictions during the month of May. It also makes Biketown more competitive with private companies eyeing our market for their dockless bikes and electric scooters.

The new pricing and expansion changes go into effect June 1st.

UPDATE, 3:18 pm: In response to your comments and someone on Twitter, I asked Biketown GM Dorothy Mitchell if they planned to add any new bikes to the fleet to go with the expansion. Here’s what she said:

“While Biketown is not planning to add new bikes at this time, we really want to continue to spread the word that Biketown users can earn $1 for parking at stations marked with a $ on the app, via the Biketown Bonus!. Our goal is that Biketown riders can join our rebalancers to make sure bikes are distributed evenly across the city. In the meantime, we’re working hard to boost the capacity and efficiency of our rebalancing team.”

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

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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

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j
Guest
j

And I wonder….where do they stand on actual suggestions for users to use roads (not sidewalks) and learn about greenways, consider helmets, and not park their bike sideways on shared racks, taking up 4 spots as opposed to 1? (Case in point, Trader Joe’s Hollywood yesterday afternoon)

John
Guest
John

DELETED COMMENT

***John, This was an unnecessarily rude comment. I get your vibe, but please be nice to others – even if their opinion is different than yours. I hope you understand. Thanks. -Jonathan***

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Quality response bro. 😉

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

He has valid points. Try to be constructive, john.

Glenn F
Guest
Glenn F

So does Motivate / Biketown stand on its own, or do they still get subsidized with Pdot money’s?

soren
Subscriber

i’m going to assume that this was a serious question: biketown is does not receive any PBOT or city money.

9watts
Subscriber

Waiting for Trimet use to be switched to free. I am pretty certain that that would also be wildly successful.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

It was wildly successful…back when TRIMET used to offer fare-free rides in the core area until a few years ago.

[Per urban planning research…most US public transit agencies do not promote or embrace fare-free zones so that they can have the flexibility of excluding “problem” riders or those using transit vehicles in place of housing, especially in the winter.]

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

This is a real concern and it deters ridership — just ask around.

A significant percentage of women I know mention harassment and being crammed in with unpredictable or especially unpleasant people as reasons for driving rather than taking transit.

It’s too bad they can’t figure out a better way to deal with this issue than not have fare-free zones.

Enforcing prohibitions against loitering in transit can be done professionally in an even handed way. I was escorted by police out of a subway station in Washington DC because I let two trains go by without boarding despite holding a valid ticket. I was dressed in a freshly cleaned/pressed suit and tie and just wanted to hang back for 25 minutes for a job interview a block away someplace sheltered from the cold rain.

todd boulanger
Guest
todd boulanger

There is one [Victorian era] tool in the toolbox that one rarely sees in the “west” anymore…”ladies only” / “family” bus seat sections / train cars…Dubai has them, etc.

turnips
Guest
turnips

so does the Tokyo chikatetsu.

dwk
Guest
dwk

People don’t take transit now because of the customer base….
In a perfect world free would be great. In this city right now, free would be scary as hell.
Such a short memory now that we have just passed the year anniversary of about the most horrific act this city has seen.
And no, the killer did not pay.

soren
Subscriber

classism.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

People don’t go where they don’t feel safe. If we don’t expect people to ride a bike when they don’t feel safe, why would we expect them to wait for or ride transit when they don’t? If we see inconveniences and discomforts to cyclists as impediments to riding, why do we not also think that is true for transit?

Two nights ago, my GF called me to pick up a her and a friend at night from Moda because they felt uncomfortable waiting on a platform for over 1/2 hr around people who were already clearly high and openly doing drugs. So I picked them up and drove her friend home which is miles away from where we live.

People who are high and/or mentally ill can be unpredictable and aggressive. Some individuals who may or may not be high and or ill are deliberately intimidating or offensive. And now that we live in a world where we’re expected to protect people from the slightest whiff of tobacco or perfume/cologne seriously, why would we expect them to be trapped near someone who stinks to high heaven?

I sure as heck don’t blame people for taking a safe controlled environment that’s far more pleasant and will get them home much faster.

x
Guest
x

A rising tide lifts all boats. If rich people had a transit service that was quick, clean, safe and economical then poor people could use it too.

Sam Churchill
Guest

Like in North Portland?

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Do you have any suggestions? ‍♂️

soren
Subscriber

sure…stop massively subsidizing low-occupancy motorvehicle use.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I agree — I do think we’d be better off if we shifted more of our road funding to gas tax and other user fees, and made a commensurate reduction in income taxes (or whatever funds the shortfall now) to compensate.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Joseph E
Guest
Joseph E

Great news! For the last 2 months we were just a mile out of the current boundary, so it wasn’t easy to use. This new area is a big improvement, and the ability to park at any rack is a big advantage. It will also make it a shorter walk to the nearest bike, if there are enough bikes in the system.
But many additional bikes will be added? If there are no more bikes, the current fleet may be stretched too thin.

9watts
Subscriber

Always curious to see rebalancing statistics. Especially as these changes are instituted (before/after).

J.E.
Guest
J.E.

While I want to be excited about this service area expansion, considering how many empty stations we saw as a result of “no out-of-station parking fee” May, this expansion has me concerned, unless Biketown is poised to simultaneously increase their fleet by at least 20%. Living in the middle of the service area (but not near any stations), the number one factor in whether I do or don’t use Biketown on any given trip is whether or not there are any available bikes nearby.

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

Ditto here, I’ve been exactly a mile outside the boundary, and it very much limited my usage. But now that it is down to Gladstone, I am psyched. Almost a guarantee I will go for the year subscription deal.

And yeah, definitely need a few more bikes to make it work.

Zach
Guest
Zach

Amazing

Jason
Guest
Jason

This is great news, but I sure hope they’re going to add more bikes soon. If not, usage may actually decline as the bikes will be spread too thin to be reliably available. Biketown’s station density is already marginal, so spreading out the same number of bikes over a much larger area would just make it even less likely that you’re near a bike when you need one.

Columbo
Guest
Columbo

Don’t worry, Lime will be adding plenty of bikes soon.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

The per minute conversion is a good idea as is lowering the annual rate and introducing the superhub concept — I would expect this will encourage more short hops and annual memberships.

Hopefully increased demand for the service will compensate for the lower marginal revenue and additional costs which would result from dealing a lot more bikes out of hubs.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Thanks Biketown (and Motivate) for the Free Ride in May!! It gave me the push to try the system out this month. So far so good, considering joining now that the annual fee has dropped AND Car-2-go have dropped the Smart cars with bike racks.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This isn’t particularly helpful in neighborhoods without “community racks” (read: commercial areas) nearby. Do they have to be locked to staple racks, or are people getting away with locking them to sign-posts and such?

m
Guest
m

We have locked biketowns to street sign poles near our home on multiple occasions, both during May and previously (paid the out-of-hub fee). So far no repercussions…

Austin
Guest
Austin

From the map, it looks like they removed the little bit that used to go up into Washington park.

I was pretty surprised to see four of the Biketown bikes up by the holocaust memorial this week – those hills gettin’ up there can be rough!

BIKETOWNpdx
Guest

It will still be included, just a design error that we’re fixing. It’s a popular station!

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Well dang, was really hoping they’d expand a few blocks south as well, so my office would be included. Thought it would be a good idea to expand down closer to the Reed College area. Maybe not all the way, but there are enough businesses, restaurants/food trucks, and bars between there and the current south end of the service area that I think would be well served if it was included. Contacted Biketown a couple times about this and was really hoping it would happen. Maybe next time…

Josh
Guest
Josh

Looks like it’s already down to SW Bancroft St, since 2016. Did you mean further south, down Macadam?

One
Guest

Great news! Congrats on expansion. I hope it continues. I personally was hoping to see 8th and Dekum, 19th and Dekum, and Concordia University make the cut. Maybe next time.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Any word on where the new docks will be? Or will there be any?

todd boulanger
Guest
todd boulanger

I was surprised that Biketown did not grow its boundary to the north (NE) any. And If not at least grow a little to simplify the “north wall” along say Ainsworth vs the ziggy-zag along Killingsworth.

todd boulanger
Guest
todd boulanger

And when I joined up yesterday AND read the user agreement…I was surprised that users cannot take Biketown bikes on Trimet MAX. (Not saying that it would be a frequent need but I can think of some scenarios where it would be helpful.)

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

That is interesting. Maybe the concern is that Biketown bikes could end up in Hillsboro or Gresham which would be expensive to rebalance?

Gerald Fittipaldi
Guest
Gerald Fittipaldi

If they’re doubling the size of the service area without adding any more bikes, that will mean the bikes will be more spread out. The chances that a bike will be nearby when needed is going to drop dramatically. I’ll probably use Biketown much less starting June 1st for this sole reason.

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

I think I will just rely a bit more on the app for spotting bikes. Compared to know where I just walk to the nearest station and 99% of the time it has at least a few. But yeah, more bikes wouldn’t hurt!

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

How can BikeTown fund the acquisition of more bikes, if it turns out they are necessary?

I’m wondering if anyone knows enough about the budget and sponsorship details to figure this out.

BikeTown was always planned to eventually cover much more of the city than the initial launch zone. So the plan must have included funding for more bikes at some point.

(Will this expansion require more bikes to maintain satisfactory service? I’m not sure. The ability to see where all the bikes are, and potentially the ability to reserve a bike via the app, does help a lot. Walking a few blocks to a bike is less of a bother if you know for sure there will be a bike there. But walking more than a few blocks is probably a deterrent to use.)

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

Not sure how accurate this statement is but I feel like the east boundary functions as a poverty line.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Not accurate. Unless you think Mt Tabor is an impoverished area.

Greg Spencer
Guest
Greg Spencer

Second that!! Look at the rents and home prices out here on the East Side. Don’t know what your poverty line is: https://www.redfin.com/neighborhood/33166/OR/Portland/East-Portland/filter/viewport=45.58307:45.47532:-122.43277:-122.59104

Sam Churchill
Guest

I guess this means Limebike has a green light for entering Kenton, Hayden Island, PDX and Vancouver. I’m looking forward to their dockless e-bikes and scooters.

JJJ
Guest

More area but not more bikes will decrease usability

Sam Churchill
Guest

LimeBike COULD offer electric bikes and scooters north of Killingsworth, for Kenton, Delta Park, PDX, Hayden Island and Vancouver, although those plans are still “secret”.

If dockless bike share DOESN’T happen this month then it probably WON’T happen anytime this year. Which means North Portlanders WILL have to do it ourselves. Swiftbikes has a nifty solar-powered solution for e-bike sharing.

https://www.swiftmile.com

Membership of $40-$50 might get you free rides. Handy for transportation to grocery store, Delta Park, PIR, Expo Center, Airport or even bike tours along the Columbia River. If a hotel or bike shop charged $10/hr for a bikeshare system and it averaged 4 hrs/day of use, that’s $40 x 30 days or $1200/month. In 6 months you might generate $7,000 per bike, in a year, say $10,000. So I’m guessing it might pay for itself in year one ($20,000).

http://www.hayden-island.com/biking/

Ali Corbin
Guest
Ali Corbin

I’m overjoyed that my house is now included in the service area.
But it looks like the new service area stops exactly one block short of the Macleay Park trailhead. Which has bike staples and would be a great destination. I wonder if that’s just another glitch in the map.

ps
Guest
ps

“Aiming to make BikeTown…more competitive with the prospects of an eventual dockless competitor in the market, BikeTown has been forced to forgo their cartel approach and actually provide its current and prospective users something they have been asking for since the beginning of time” Fixed it for you.

Columbo
Guest
Columbo

Yep. If Biketown’s still around in five years I’ll be very surprised.

SD
Subscriber

This is great. It was a game changer when the service area expanded to have a hub that was quick walking distance from my house. Hopefully new hubs and bikes will follow with more demand. If anyone is considering run-commuting to work, bike share is the the easiest way to pull it off- unless you run both ways and have a shower at work.

Sam Churchill
Guest

I’m waiting for autonomous jogging.

JP
Guest
JP

Anyone know if there will ever been an expansion south to include Sellwood-Moreland?

Phil Richman
Subscriber

That’d be nice. Wrapping the service area around Portland’s best bike bridge to include Sellwood-Moreland & Johns Landing would be great. I suspect they did not for now because of the Springwater trail being closed this Summer.

Sam Churchill
Guest

Social Bicycles is now officially known as Jump Bikes and Uber bought Jump for $200 million in April, 2018. Jump bike is focused on e-bikes (made by Geneze) and uses the same SOBI locking mechanism that Portland’s Biketown uses. Motivate’s pedal bikes are made by Ford.

That means if Lyft/Motivate want to separate themselves from Uber/Jump, then they need a new locking mechanism (probably based on Narrowband IoT), and a new bike (perhaps a separate Geneze contract for Jump look-alike or an A2B with a solar charge station), not unlike Swiftmile.

https://www.swiftmile.com/

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

A network of e-bikes is much more expensive to operate than a network of standard bikes, because the e-bikes need to be recharged every day or couple days.

How much will that cost? Lime is paying independent “juicers” $12/charge to retrieve, charge, and rebalance e-scooters, and e-bikes are much more cumbersome to pick up so juicers will have to be paid substantially more per charge.

If the operator is going to send employees with trucks out to retrieve and charge, that is like rebalancing the *entire* fleet every couple days. Rebalancing is already among the largest expenses of a bikeshare.

The hope must be that e-bikes will be used many times more than standard bikes – instead of 0.84 rides/day (latest Seattle data), hoping for 5-6 rides/day.

So the premise of switching from standard bikes to e-bikes – in areas that are not hilly – is that most people are so allergic to physical activity that riding an electric moped will be 5 or 6 times more appealing than riding a regular bike.

This makes me sad.

Have you ever seen the groups of young, fit tourists riding Segway scooters around town? Do you shake your head and wonder why don’t they simply walk?