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

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.


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

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