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Now you can donate Biketown credits to people in need (and other bike share news)

Posted by on December 5th, 2018 at 10:02 am

Biketown for all!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A new program offered by Portland’s bike share system gives members and account holders an opportunity to play Santa this holiday season.

Biketown’s “Pay it Forward” program gives riders with surplus credits on their account the ability to donate them to others. Specifically, the account credits can be given to the system’s Biketown For All program that helps people cover the cost of their first month of membership.

Biketown for All was launched two years ago and currently has 440 members, all of whom receive reduced fares ($3 per month). The Portland Bureau of Transportation says Biketown for All members are the most active users of the system, with seven of them in the top ten for overall mileage.

Biketown account holders can receive $1 credits on their account when they return an undocked bicycle to specially-marked “Bonus” stations, or for retrieving bikes that are outside the service area. The average Biketown member has five credits on their account at any given time.

“After signing up, many Biketown users quickly generate more positive credits on their balance than they need,” PBOT said in a statement about the new program last week. “Leading to a surplus that could easily be reallocated to users who could use some financial support.”

Here’s more from PBOT:

All new Biketown for All members will receive the $3 Pay-it-Forward credit and, as part of their membership, agree that when they generate enough credit to pay for their next 6 months, $3 will be donated from their account back into the Pay-it-Forward program. The “Pay it Forward” opportunity will be available for general Biketown members this season, to give all Biketown members, not just Biketown for All members, an opportunity to contribute and support the program.

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To check your balance and participate in this program, just log into your Biketown account and fill out a form.

In other bike share news…

Lyft’s new bike.

– Lyft recently finalized its deal to acquire Motivate (something we reported back in July). Motivate is the company that operates Biketown and many other large bike share systems across the U.S. Lyft says 80 percent of all bike share rides in the country were made on Motivate systems last year.

In a show of strength and well-timed PR, Lyft also announced a $100 million upgrade to New York City’s bike share program that will add 40,000 new bikes and triple the size of its fleet.

My hunch is Lyft is a very strong contender to do something similar in Portland once our current contract with Nike is up this summer. Biketown is desperate for a cash infusion and Lyft is well-positioned to provide it. The company doesn’t have the political baggage of Uber (who owns a competing bike share/scooter brand Jump), and Lyft’s head of scooter and bike policy, Caroline Samponaro, is a big fan of Portland. Samponaro attended the recent Alice Awards fundraiser for The Street Trust and the company was a major sponsor of the event.

Scooters didn’t hurt bike share use in Portland. The Willamette Week reported late last month that Biketown ridership increased during the four-month e-scooter pilot. “The popularity of e-scooters,” they wrote, “in combination with the increased use of bike share paint an encouraging picture of a less car-dependent city.”

It’s not hard to close your eyes and fast-forward to fall 2019 when we’ve got: major protected bikeways projects underway (thanks to Central City in Motion), a vastly upgraded bike share system, and phase two of our e-scooter pilot humming along. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Learn more about the program here.

— 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

  • crank December 5, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Looks like PBOT is having trouble financing its low-income program so it’s asking its customers to help foot the bill. Classy.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) December 5, 2018 at 10:50 am

      Reminds me of how PBOT relies on volunteers to get pretty much any project for people on foot or on wheel done.

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  • 9watts December 5, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Waiting for Trimet to follow suit.
    When I was in Denmark thirty years ago, I was intrigued to discover a clever system in use where bus passengers exiting the bus could skewer their transfers-with-a-remaining-balance on a nail atop a post at the stop. Those boarding without a transfer could help themselves to the partially used transfers.
    A nice collective, and basically free, system that could help reduce inequality.

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    • 9watts December 5, 2018 at 10:41 am

      Aarhus specifically. I have no idea how widespread that practice was then or if it continued.

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      • Mick O December 5, 2018 at 11:27 am

        Thanks for sharing the anecdote without any data. Guess we’ll allow it. 🙂

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        • 9watts December 5, 2018 at 11:46 am

          Anecdotes are great. I never meant to discourage them, though my comment you are referring to did regrettably suggest that. I do think there is a difference between someone’s individual experience with an e-bike and an encounter with a fare/transfer system, that differs from what I have otherwise experienced.
          I am not making the kind of sweeping claims about this briefly encountered institution, as the person to whom I was responding was: “Saying ebikes are for people who don’t want to exercise is pure stupidity!” I just mentioned it as an analogy, something to think about.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter December 6, 2018 at 2:26 pm

      I always do that with my parking tickets downtown. I stick them in the return slot when they still have over 30 minutes on them. When I used to use paper bus tickets I did the same thing, sticking them somewhere to the stop I got off at, or offering them to the people in line to board.

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  • Chris December 5, 2018 at 11:07 am

    I am having trouble finding a specific link to “donate my credits”. I have over $50, and would like to donate that. I was aiming to making my next year of BIKETOWN free, but this would be a better use since I can afford it.

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  • Mick O December 5, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Looks like PBOT is having trouble financing its low-income program so it’s asking its customers to help foot the bill. Classy.Recommended 1

    Isn’t that how pretty much any program to help low-income users works? Where do you think money comes from?

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    • John Lascurettes December 5, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      That’s not how public budgets [are supposed to] work.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter December 6, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      They’re supposed to tax us so that we all pay.

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  • Hazel December 5, 2018 at 11:30 am

    I think it’s a misconception that Lyft doesn’t have the political baggage as Uber. They’re both doing the same exact thing. Both provide almost no recourse for reporting unsafe driving and both are contributing to congestion issues in cities. Both treat drivers as independent contractors denying folks benefits and saving themselves tons of money.

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    • John Lascurettes December 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Check in with drivers that drive for both. I’ve never found one that thinks Uber is giving them a better gig-economy deal but plenty of Lyft drivers that prefer that company. I haven’t read a story about Lyft’s executive team being explicitly supportive of sexist and rape culture within, without, and surrounding the company and its culture. Granted, I think Uber has ousted the last of their CBO (chief bro officers), but there’s still that stigma.

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      • Hazel December 5, 2018 at 1:15 pm

        One of Lyft’s big investors is also one of Trump’s advisors and is all for the immigration ban. And from the Guardian:
        Despite the fuzzy moustaches and messages of inclusivity, Lyft’s fundamental business model is the same as Uber’s. This means that Lyft drivers are not categorized as employees and so do not benefit from a broad range of legal protections. Independent contractors are not entitled to minimum wage, overtime, health insurance, workers’ compensation, unemployment or lower taxes. They also have to pay for gas and car maintenance. It was only after California drivers filed a lawsuit against the company that Lyft agreed to provide additional driver benefits, while maintaining their independent contractor status.

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        • John Lascurettes December 5, 2018 at 2:00 pm

          I’m well aware of their business model and their burden in congestion. You said there’s no difference between Uber and Lyft, but from a public relations standpoint (which is what Jonathan was alluding to) I pointed out that they’re quite different.

          As far as worrying about which companies have executives that support Trump goes? I can’t boycott every company that has an executive with different political policies than me or I’d never be able to operate day to day. There’s also a huge difference between that executive’s support of something, and a company’s support of something. They’re not the same. Recently, people were trying to get people to boycott Nike because Phil Knight, the individual, was against Kate Brown, never minding the fact that he’s not involved in Nike anymore. There are plenty of valid reasons to shun Nike, that is not one of them.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter December 6, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      It’s really easy to report Uber and Lyft drivers to the companies.

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  • Champs December 5, 2018 at 11:46 am

    If scooters are eating into anything I’ll bet it was trips on Uber and Lyft. Summer seemed to have less of that “hovering” behavior from drives that I’ve recognized as a signal to watch out for the sudden appearance of car doors or people in the bike lane.

    Also, Lime insists that they collected the scooter I reported to them but it’s still in my driveway.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter December 6, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      After 30 days I’d consider it my scooter if it was left on my property and reported to the company. That’s how it works with other motor vehicles.

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