Portland has slashed the price of the Biketown bike share system

Cheaper than ever.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

In their bid to promote safe travel, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has dramatically reduced the price to use Biketown.

Through April 30th, you can grab an orange bike share bike for just 1 cent per minute on their pay-as-you-go plan. If you’ve never used Biketown before, they’ve also dropped the sign-up fee to just 10 cents. That’s a huge reduction from their regular pay-as-you-go price of 8 cents per minute and a $5 dollar sign-up fee. If you’re already an annual plan or month-to-month member, the overage fees are also just 1 cent per minute (compared to 8 cents per minute).

PBOT stresses that you should only be using bikes for essential trips and continue to maintain social distancing while out and about. Everyone must also wipe off and sanitize the handlebar grips and other contact points before and after use.

Reader Jason M. is an essential worker at a government building in the Lloyd District who relies on this bicycle every day. He’s faced challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak. First he got a flat and didn’t feel comfortable going to his local bike shop. When he finally repaired the tube himself, he then got a big gash in his tire. Unable to replace the tire, he grabbed a Biketown. “Those bikes are tanks,” he shared with me yesterday. “But there’s a station nearby and I made decent time.”

The best part? The ride only cost Jason 22 cents each way. The worst part? He says “Their app is still broken”. (Note: Biketown reports no issues with the app at this time.)

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Interestingly, the end of this fee reduction period – April 30th – is also the final day of the existing contract between the City of Portland and Lyft, the parent company of Motivate, that operates the Biketown system. PBOT is currently in negotiations with Lyft about a major expansion to the system that would come with updates including new electric bikes, a larger service area, and hopefully a more stable app and hardware.

Biketown use was down 75% in the latter half of March compared to last year, so people like Jason shouldn’t have any problem with bike availability.

In other major cities, Lyft is offering free bike share usage to some frontline workers.

Signup and learn more about Biketown on their website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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mran1984
2 years ago

So, when did “share” and “rent” get so confused? It’s bike rental. Sharing does not include a fee.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  mran1984

Renting is something my grandparents did. It’s hard to find investors in a trillion dollar profitless company built on a word so ungenerational.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago

While my intellectual feline mind tells me the risk of using a shared bike is tiny, my lizard brain tells me “ick; danger; stay away”.

That is what bike share is going to have to contend with for the rest of the crisis, and a good while after it ends.

Jason McHuff
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

My thought is that taking transit is far more of a risk, where you’re in an enclosed vehicle with no or little window openings*, potentially mixing with those who have poor hygiene, and may not get picked up with the capacity limits and reduced service.

*TriMet responded to a concerned employee that they discontinued use of the 2900 series buses which passenger windows don’t open at all, but their data shows that some are still in use. In addition, only the tops of the windows open on all of the newer buses, unlike older ones.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Jason McHuff

Bus air is a lot cleaner than the air circulated in your car, let alone the air at your local auto repair garage. Everything is relative.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

It’s all about perception at the gut level. We have a lot of sub-perceptual machinery working on helping us avoid hazards through sensations such as fear and disgust. I suspect it has been recalibrated over the past few weeks.

Matt S.
Matt S.
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

But I have no one sitting next to me in my car that isn’t covering their cough… You couldn’t pay me to ride public transit right now.

https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/detroit-bus-driver-coronavirus-viral-video-woman-coughing/

Lady coughs uncovered, bus driver dies four days later.

Kittens
Kittens
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

How about MAX, where no windows open?

Jason McHuff
2 years ago
Reply to  Kittens

The 2900-series of TriMet buses have windows that don’t open (except for roof hatches and driver’s window) and they say they’ve (mostly) stopped using them.

Racer X
Racer X
2 years ago
Reply to  Jason McHuff

Speaking of “Back to the [Flu] Future” one of the better shared transit vehicles during the 1918-20 Influenza period was the open sided trolley car, perhaps a model to emulate (but add ADA access). http://rockhilltrolley.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/IMG_2105.jpg

Phil Richman
2 years ago

As a person who has put 1875 miles on my BikeTown account it is very sad to know such a great resource is not being put to use. For those who do have accounts and a HOP pass I highly recommend linking the RFD HOP card to your BikeTown account in which case it should be much easier to check out bikes than using the App, which I agree can be clunky at times.

Jason McHuff
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil Richman

It would be nice if you could use your phone to unlock a bike, much like you can use a phone as a Hop card.