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Go By Bike adds test rides as part of OHSU e-bike push

Posted by on August 19th, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Go By Bike now offers e-bike test rides at their showroom in South Waterfront under the tram.
(Photo: Go By Bike)

Electric bike sales are skyrocketing nationwide and Portland is doing its part to stoke the boom. Now a new partnership between local bike shops, Oregon’s electric vehicle advocacy group, and Portland’s largest employer will make it even easier for people to purchase one.

According to market research firm NPD Group, e-bike sales were up 84% in March, 92% in April, and 137% in May. It’s no surprise given how the bikes have evolved in recent years. When they first arrived on the scene they were clunky and mostly the realm of early adopters and garage-tinkerers. Then they trickled into local bike shops, but there were only a few brands, battery technology was subpar, and prices were relatively high for what you got. Lately the bikes have made massive leaps in quality and affordability and there are tons of great brands and models available.

Now the nearly 13,000 people who work at OHSU are eligible for a $200 subsidy and there’s even a convenient place to take one for a test ride.

OHSU has teamed up with Go By Bike (the repair shop that also runs the bike valet under the Portland Aerial Tram) to offer test rides. The new Go By Bike showroom currently has five models to choose from and will rotate the selection every few months. When you’re ready to buy, OHSU’s transportation department will give up to 50 people $200 that can be used as credit off a purchase at The eBike Store (809 N Rosa Parks Way) or Cynergy E-Bikes (3838 SE Powell Blvd).

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(Four of the five bikes available for test rides. Click for make/model names.)

The showroom is open to everyone. In addition to the subsidy, OHSU has partnered with Point West Credit Union on an e-bike loan program.

“E-bikes are a significant aspect of our work and a fast-growing element of smart transportation.”
— Steve Guttman, Forth

Go By Bike owner Kiel Johnson says he’s thrilled at how this partnership came together and was inspired to build out his showroom after being part of the Electric Bike Work Group convened by Forth, Oregon’s nonprofit electric vehicle advocacy organization. That group had been planning an e-bike expo before the pandemic hit. Instead, Johnson use part of his federal COVID-19 stimulus check to purchase a new shipping container he’s using as the showroom. For now he only offers test rides. “Right now we are leasing bikes from the various bike shops,” Johnson shared with us. “But if we can show there is enough value in the showroom, the used bikes will go to a low income electric bike rental program.”

Go By Bike’s showroom and test ride program is just a pilot project at this point, but he and Forth hope to offer something similar at other employer sites citywide.

Forth Senior Program Manager Steve Gutmann said the idea was based on their EV Showcase in the World Trade Center in downtown Portland. While most of Forth’s lobbying and programs have focused on EV cars, car-sharing, electric trucks, and other programs, “We’ve also been working to accelerate e-bike adoption for years,” Gutmann said.

“E-bikes are a significant aspect of our work and a fast-growing element of smart transportation,” Gutmann added. Forth is seeking grant funds to expand the pilot to other locations and plans to offer e-bike test rides of their own once their EV Showcase re-opens.

The Go By Bike E-Bike Showroom is located at 3303 S Bond Ave and is Monday through Friday, 6:00 am to 7:30 pm. Current models available are from Specialized, Yamaha, Rad Power Bikes and Giant. Check out the website to fill out the test ride waiver before you show up.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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$4000istoomuchHello, KittySERiderKyle BanerjeeMatt Recent comment authors
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Emily
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Emily

This is great news, and I hope this program is expanded to everyone. However, why offer discount to OHSU doctors and staff who make $100k+ a year? No disrespect to our heroic medical friends is intended here.

Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to offer this program to low income minority workers who make less than $50k a year….now? During a pandemic where minorities are impacted more negatively?

Seems that this is another case of minorities waiting for benefits after privileged white counterparts.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello Kitty

It would be great to offer this program to other folks, but unless they work for OHSU, I wouldn’t expect it to be paid for by the OHSU Transportation Department.

This seems more like another case of an employer trying to implement a creative travel demand management program for their employees, who may not in fact all be privileged white folks.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Guest
Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)

The way the program works is we are reimbursing bike shops for the discount. It would be a lot to ask the bike shops to see a tax return or other income verifying thing before applying the discount.

But your point is certainly taken and it would make a lot of sense for the city to provide a discount on e-bikes or even a city wide rental program!

E-bikes have the potential to greatly expand the area of where a bike commute makes sense. Paying $4,000 for a bike is impossible for most people. Ultimately, the city needs to step in to provide some other options (biketown expansion is a start but I wonder how many commuters would rely on bikeshare?)

$4000istoomuch
Guest
$4000istoomuch

High-quality and obscenely-popular e-bikes available for $1000-1400.

SERider
Guest
SERider

There are PLENTY of staff at OHSU not making anything close to $100K+ a year. There are actually A LOT of staff at OHSU (some of them minorities) making less than $50K/year.

OHSU can’t do anything but offer the discount to their own employees.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest

Great job Steve! and Kiel! [Perhaps a new role model for the nation?]

Steve Hash
Guest
Steve Hash

This is great, just limit it to the purchase of Class 1 or 2.

nic.cota
Subscriber

A great idea.

I have many friends who work up at OHSU and drive to get there. The hill has been such a pinch-point for them to ever consider biking up there, and now with the tram at half capacity for social distance measures, the wait from South Waterfront further incentivizes driving.

Hopefully this subsidy at least makes it more of a consideration.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I wouldn’t expect much. When the Tram was entirely shut down, we got credits which allowed basically free e-bike use from the base up the hill. A few people tried it, but not enough for it to be any kind of factor. 200 bucks is nice, but I don’t see it swaying many people, especially given what these things cost.

I’ve asked around to try to understand why more people don’t ride the hill since it’s not bad going up and it’s the fastest and most convenient way down. One thing I’ve found is that aside the many reasons people don’t like to ride in first place, they’re afraid to ride down the hill.

I’ve also asked friends with what would be easy bike commute situations why they drive when the traffic situation is hopeless and you can just cruise by the stopped cars on a bike. The answer boils down to they find the environment inside the car pleasant and the environment outside on the bike unpleasant.

A “normal” nonathletic person can walk up from the base of the tram in about 25 minutes or down in 20. Yet people will wait much longer than that if something’s wrong. So while you’d think an e-bike would be an ideal way to get up the hill, there will probably be only a small number of takers

Matt
Guest
Matt

I’ve also asked friends with what would be easy bike commute situations why they drive when the traffic situation is hopeless and you can just cruise by the stopped cars on a bike. The answer boils down to they find the environment inside the car pleasant and the environment outside on the bike unpleasant.

Have these friends actually tried bike commuting and formed this opinion, or is this a “Green Eggs and Ham” situation (i.e., “I’ve never tried it and I already hate it”)? I ask because a constant refrain I hear from people who switch from driving to biking is that the car commute made them miserable and the bike commute makes them happy.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Both. I’ve had people had me help them buy bikes and they’ll do it for awhile, but then they often revert — usually after having to deal with something they regard as a nuisance such as getting a flat or muddy.

Others, I can’t even get to try. Even among those who cycle, I’ve been spectacularly unsuccessful with convincing people less than half my age from even trying to cycle up the hill.

One thing you see relatively few of in PDX that I’m surprised you don’t see more of is electric unicycles. Great for getting around in tight spaces and super portable. If it weren’t for the fact that I refuse to sacrifice my fitness and just don’t want to pay for one, I’d use one myself.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello Kitty

The dork factor killed the Segway (a machine that was as close to magic as any I’ve ever experienced). I am astonished that it has not wiped out the unicycles as well.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Dammit! I just bought an ebike yesterday for commuting up the hill to OHSU. Been using the valet and tram for years, but figure I don’t want to be on the tram for the foreseeable future and am too lazy to ride all the way up the hill. Rode up yesterday with the ebike from the east side – still a hard workout but definitely doable for most people. Too bad biketown didn’t include the hill when they expanded their ebike service – missing a lot of business.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Guest
Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)

I have a feeling the expansion will include Marquam Hill 🙂

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

That would be nice. Last Friday, my RD went into my spokes on the Broadway bridge when I was already behind so I had to take a normal Biketown bike all the way up Marquam Hill.

I made it on time (pedaling it up the hill wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be), but got charged $10 extra. I thought about dumping the bike at the PSU and running the rest of the way in, but figured the bike would be faster, plus it would probably still be there (it was) for me to get my regular bike back at the end of the day.

John
Guest

Hi Matt, if you bought just before the subsidy was announced but otherwise likely qualify, feel free to reach out to me directly at landolfe at ohsu.edu and I’ll explore our options.

In regards to the e-bike expansion, we share you enthusiasm for hill service. You may recall OHSU launched Portland’s first e-bike share of Jump and Lime bikes on Marquam Hill during a 2018 pilot. So stay tuned on developments and hopefully you can ride to OHSU on your new e-bike together with colleagues on e-bike share in the coming future.