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.
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.”
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