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Portland has slashed the price of the Biketown bike share system

Posted by on April 9th, 2020 at 9:34 am

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.)


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
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Jason McHuffPhil RichmanKittensRacer XMatt S. Recent comment authors
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So, when did “share” and “rent” get so confused? It’s bike rental. Sharing does not include a fee.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty

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.

Phil Richman

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.