Esplanade closure begins February 1st

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).


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

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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

  • j May 31, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    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)

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    • John May 31, 2018 at 2:39 pm


      ***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***

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      • Doug Hecker June 1, 2018 at 8:49 am

        Quality response bro. 😉

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      • CaptainKarma June 1, 2018 at 11:19 am

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

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  • Glenn F May 31, 2018 at 2:03 pm

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

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    • soren May 31, 2018 at 6:46 pm

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

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  • 9watts May 31, 2018 at 2:09 pm

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

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    • Todd Boulanger May 31, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      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.]

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      • Kyle Banerjee May 31, 2018 at 2:52 pm

        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.

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        • todd boulanger May 31, 2018 at 5:33 pm

          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.

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          • turnips May 31, 2018 at 5:50 pm

            so does the Tokyo chikatetsu.

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    • dwk May 31, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      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.

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      • soren May 31, 2018 at 6:47 pm


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        • Kyle Banerjee June 1, 2018 at 5:22 am

          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.

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          • x June 3, 2018 at 2:00 pm

            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.

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        • Doug Hecker June 1, 2018 at 8:50 am

          Do you have any suggestions? ‍♂️

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          • soren June 1, 2018 at 8:58 am

            sure…stop massively subsidizing low-occupancy motorvehicle use.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty June 1, 2018 at 1:10 pm

              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.

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          • John Lascurettes June 1, 2018 at 10:58 am

            What Soren Said.

            Fight for proper healthcare, including psychiatric care, especially for low income people instead of making other programs (like low to free transit) suffer.

            Fight for housing the houseless instead of paying police forces to constantly harass them and make them move their camps, losing much of their belongings each time — making it nearly impossible for them to ever “get a job!” that’s sustainable. If Salt Lake City can do it, why can’t we?

            That houseless people were riding the free zone when we had it is not a reflection on the problem with free transit. It’s a reflection of not taking care of a different problem elsewhere.

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  • Joseph E May 31, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    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.

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    • 9watts May 31, 2018 at 2:12 pm

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

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    • J.E. May 31, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      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.

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    • SilkySlim May 31, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      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.

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  • Zach May 31, 2018 at 2:12 pm


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  • Jason May 31, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    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.

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    • Columbo June 1, 2018 at 9:48 am

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

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  • Kyle Banerjee May 31, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    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.

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  • Todd Boulanger May 31, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    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.

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  • Chris I May 31, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    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?

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    • m June 1, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      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…

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 31, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    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.”

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  • Austin May 31, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    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!

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    • BIKETOWNpdx May 31, 2018 at 3:56 pm

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

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    • John Lascurettes May 31, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      Indeed it does. And the new map lies then – there’s a dotted line representing the “previous service area” and it lies that it wasn’t part of the current service area as shown on their site.

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  • Ryan May 31, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    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…

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    • John Lascurettes May 31, 2018 at 6:04 pm

      The did on the SE side. In fact, the only one of the five quadrants that didn’t get ANY expansion is SW (though N is only getting a sliver more). I have a friend that was saying he wished it expanded into SW Waterfront Area.

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      • Josh May 31, 2018 at 6:28 pm

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

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  • One May 31, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    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.

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  • Andrew Kreps May 31, 2018 at 4:17 pm

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

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  • todd boulanger May 31, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    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.

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  • todd boulanger May 31, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    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.)

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    • John Liu June 1, 2018 at 7:58 am

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

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  • Gerald Fittipaldi May 31, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    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.

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    • SilkySlim June 1, 2018 at 10:02 am

      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!

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  • John Liu May 31, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    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.)

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 1, 2018 at 8:00 am

      it might not be a matter of if they can fund more bikes, but if they are allowed to buy more bikes. Social Bicycles, the makers of Biketown bikes, is now owned by Jump bikes. Jump only does E-bikes and they would be very unlikely to invest in or add bikes with “old” technology into a fleet that they own. this space is changing so fast right now it’s really anybody’s guess what happens next…. such as… It’s being reported right now that Lyft is going to buy Motivate, the operator of Biketown!

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      • John Liu June 1, 2018 at 3:57 pm

        PBOT started Biketown with an initial service area and 1,000 bikes, knowing that it would ultimately expand to cover a larger area with more bikes. When awarding contracts to Motivate and Social, did PBOT and the city’s procurement and legal teams fail to secure the contractual right to purchase more than the initial 1,000 bikes and contracted prices for the additional bikes? Such a failure, if true, would be newsworthy.

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      • John Liu June 3, 2018 at 3:21 pm

        Are you sure Jump has discontinued all non-ebikes? Their website still shows standard bikes, which appear to use the same electronics/solar/display/GPS/lock unit as the Biketown bikes.

        If Biketown eventually wants to include e-bikes in the fleet, that’s fine and Jump can supply them too. It will greatly increase operating costs, though.

        Of course there might be a scenario in which Motivate (Lyft) and Jump (Uber) don’t want to do business with each other. But the city presumably wrote its contracts to give it enough control.

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  • Matt S. May 31, 2018 at 9:12 pm

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

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  • Sam Churchill May 31, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    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.

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  • JJJ June 1, 2018 at 7:50 am

    More area but not more bikes will decrease usability

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  • Sam Churchill June 1, 2018 at 9:16 am

    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.

    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).

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  • Ali Corbin June 1, 2018 at 9:41 am

    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.

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  • ps June 1, 2018 at 9:42 am

    “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.

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    • Columbo June 1, 2018 at 9:50 am

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

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  • SD June 1, 2018 at 10:12 am

    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.

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  • JP June 1, 2018 at 7:21 pm

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

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    • Phil Richman June 4, 2018 at 7:57 am

      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.

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  • Sam Churchill June 4, 2018 at 8:41 am

    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.

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  • John Liu June 4, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    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?

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