“We are very happy and grateful to the city of Portland.”
— Chelsea Cox, Hamilton Bike Share
The City of Portland has found a home for our old bike share bikes.
About 750 of the trusty original fleet of the orange, Nike-sponsored Biketown bikes had been gathering dust in storage for the past year after the bureau of transportation set them aside in favor of the all-electric fleet that launched in September 2020. The well-worn used bikes, which are worth about $1.6 million in new condition, were incompatible with new software and other features of the re-launched system.
Portland’s loss is Hamilton, Ontario’s gain. At council this week, PBOT will ask Mayor Ted Wheeler and his fellow commissioners to endorse an agreement with Hamilton Bike Share, Inc., the nonprofit that runs Hamilton’s bike share system. According to city documents, PBOT will donate about 650 bikes and miscellaneous replacement parts and tools. PBOT estimates they’ll need $2,000 to load the old bikes into shipping containers and send them up north. The City of Hamilton will cover all other costs associated with the donation, which PBOT values at $10,000 based on the fair market value of the bikes (using guidance from the IRS).
PBOT tried to find a home for the bikes in Oregon, but no suitors stepped up. A few meeting were held with interested parties but PBOT says, “none were interested or able to take on the bikes.” “There is no entity in Portland that could meaningfully use a large number of these pedal only bikes,” reads a document in the council record.
Not only are the old bikes very heavy and specifically engineered for use in bike share systems, they also had proprietary software on-board. Hamilton Bike Share already uses the same model of bike (made by Social Bicycles) which makes integration into their system possible.
Hamilton won’t take all the old Biketown bikes. A small number of them will be donated to Portland-based organizations for what PBOT refers to as, “cultural or historical reasons (like the Oregon Historical Society)”.
The donation will nearly double the size of Hamilton Bike Share, which currently has 800 bikes. The group’s Executive Director Chelsea Cox shared with us this morning that she and her crew are, “Really excited,” about the donation. “This gives us an opportunity to improve our fleet and grow our service. We are very happy and grateful to the city of Portland.” Cox added that another reason they’re happy about the donation was that it prevents the bikes from being wasted and sent to a landfill. And while Hamilton’s existing bikes are dark blue, Cox said they plan to keep the Biketown orange color because repainting was deemed too expensive.
“We’ll pay a sort of homage to Portland,” Cox said. (While the orange color will remain, all Nike swooshes and other branding must be removed, as per the agreement.)
The icing on the cake is that while these bikes are old to us, they are actually a bit newer than Hamilton’s existing bikes. Cox said she can’t wait to receive the bikes, tune them up, and get them out onto the streets.
UPDATE, 11:34 am: In an announcement about the Hamilton deal today, PBOT announced that they’ll donate 100 bikes to the central Oregon city of Bend to help them re-start their bike share program. Bend’s system will be operated by Cascadia Mobility, Inc., a company we profiled back in April that recently took over a system in Eugene.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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