Posted on June 27th, 2019 at 10:58 am.
The City of Portland is working on a bike-sharing/rental system. The system will put card-activated rental bikes in kiosks downtown.
Read all our special coverage on this story below.
Posted on May 23rd, 2019 at 1:42 pm.
Evan Ross is a serial cycling entrepreneur who understands the local bike scene and how to create a viable business around it. That intuition served him well when the idea of cheap bike rentals available in seconds from a mobile app was first pondered in Portland.
“I started my business to get more people riding bikes. Biketown works toward that same goal, so it’s hard for me to be a hater.”
— Evan Ross, Cycle Portland
Ross founded his bike shop and tour business in 2008. That’s right around the time the City of Portland’s efforts to start a bike share program were heating up. Lucky for Ross he had a bit of time before any bike share system would hit the ground. Portland infamously stalled on the program several times before finally launching Biketown in 2016.
From the get-go, Ross knew it would impact his business. “I was scared; but I saw it coming and I had time to adapt my fleet,” he said during a chat with him outside his retail showroom on SW 2nd Avenue in Old Town yesterday. I’ve known Ross for years and can recall being a bit surprised when he didn’t share my enthusiasm for bike share. A dedicated bike advocate and former member of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, Ross wasn’t as excited about the idea as other advocates I knew.
“I knew my rental numbers would go down. That was always the threat with Biketown,” he shared.
And Ross was right. His revenue did go down. But he didn’t let that stop him from turning it into a positive.
Earlier this week, Ross announced an official partnership with the City of Portland to lead “Biketown Tours”. “Using public bikeshare you’ll cruise the waterfront bike path, discover Portland’s past and present, and ease into city riding with our experienced guides in America’s bike capital,” reads the copy on his new BiketownTours.com website.
For Ross, the third time was indeed the charm. The tours come after two previous attempts to work with Biketown fizzled out. He first hoped to get the maintenance contract for the fleet, then he tried to position his shop as the official helmet and map supplier for Biketown users. Neither of those came to fruition, but Ross maintained a working relationship with bike share program staff. And he remained optimistic.
I asked Ross how he went from seeing Biketown as a threat, to embracing it as a partner. “I realized bike share companies are really good at supplying bikes, but not in curating routes and building a connection to the local community,” he said. “Then I had this epiphany when I realized I spend a lot of time maintaining my fleet, and if I can outsource the maintenance of the bikes, but still provide the tour, it would be a bit advantage to me. I’d save wear-and-tear on my bikes — and not have to store, fix, or buy them in the first place.”
And there were also philosophical reasons for the partnership. “I started my business to get more people riding bikes,” Ross said. “Biketown works toward that same goal, so it’s hard for me to be a hater.”
Biketown (which is operated by Motivate, Inc., a Lyft company) loves the tours because Cycle Portland’s guide staff acts as a concierge to their system. The guides helps riders with rental checkout (including how to push the buttons on the keypad so they respond), offer tips and advice on how to stay comfortable on the bike (saddle adjustment is key), and they educate new riders about safety and rules of the road.
The $20 tours last about an hour and depart from the plaza in front of Voodoo Donuts on SW 3rd Avenue and Burnside. Riders get a $5 discount on their Biketown rental when they sign up. Learn more at BiketownTours.com.
Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.
BikePortland needs your support.
Posted on May 1st, 2019 at 2:52 pm.
What’s better than bikes? Free bikes! [Read more…]
Posted on April 19th, 2019 at 7:12 am.
What better way to mark Earth Day than to make bike share free?
Posted on March 29th, 2019 at 11:19 am.
So far, Biketown hasn’t turned out to be the ubiquitous presence or dominant travel mode I hoped it would be. Instead it’s a (mostly) reliable, well-run, affordable and accessible transportation option for people who need it most.
That’s what I came away thinking after I read the 2018 Biketown Annual Report (PDF) recently adopted by Portland City Council.
When Biketown launched in July 2016, I was eager to finally have a bike share system. Even though Portland was late to the party, I assumed the orange bikes would a vast impact on how we get around. Inspired by the systems I’d used and seen flourish in Washington D.C. and New York City, I envisioned orange bikes everywhere. And with bikes everywhere we’d have bike riders everywhere and we’d have bike infrastructure everywhere and my dreams of a cycling city would finally be realized.
But that’s not how things have gone. [Read more…]
Posted on November 7th, 2018 at 12:32 pm.
A major suburb just a few miles west of downtown Portland wants a dockless bike share system.
The City of Beaverton (population 100,000) has launched an official request for information (RFI) to learn more from companies that, “can provide useful and relevant information on a dockless bike share program.” Bike-share is called out in Beaverton’s 2017 Active Transportation Plan and city planners say it’s a needed weapon in their fight against congestion which is only expected to get worse as the city grows.
Here’s more from the RFI (PDF here):
“Metro anticipates that the Beaverton Regional Center will increase by 4,500 new jobs and 10,000 new residents over the next 25 years. As the City continues to grow, congestion on local roadways will continue to increase. As one way to help reduce or at least moderate congestion, the City is looking to increase multi-modal opportunities for residents to get to work, to transit, and in the case of walking and biking, as a general form of mobility and recreation.”
Posted on July 19th, 2018 at 12:53 pm.
Can you believe it’s already been two years since those bright orange bikes hit the streets of Portland?
Since the launch, the system has tallied over 700,000 rides and there are over 101,000 active users. In a presentation to the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee on July 9th, bike share program manager Steve Hoyt-McBeth with the Portland Bureau of Transportation said Biketown is on an upward trajectory. “There’s been a lot of growth in 2018,” he said. “We’ve really hit a sweet spot.”
Hoyt-McBeth endured years of delays as PBOT launched bike share long after they expected to. In February 2007 we proclaimed “The race is on!” among big cities who wanted to be the first to get a major system on the streets. Portland ended up 64th. Acknowledging that late entry to the market, Hoyt-McBeth told the committee that, “We felt like it was incumbent upon us to learn from other cities and try to be innovative with what we did.” [Read more…]
Posted on June 26th, 2018 at 5:31 pm.
Two private bike share companies have set up tiny pilot programs to help Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) cope with a five-week closure of the Aerial Tram.
Posted on June 1st, 2018 at 11:23 am.
Portland’s bike share system is now managed by Lyft while it uses bikes and technology owned by Uber.
On the same day Biketown launches a major service area expansion and host of other changes, Lyft is finalizing a $250 million deal to acquire Motivate, Inc. — the company that operates Portland’s bike share system.
The deal has potentially huge implications for the future of not only bike share in Portland, but the sharing of all types of last-mile solutions including bikes, electric-bikes, and “micro-mobility” vehicles like electric scooters.
It’s also sort of an awkward mess. Here’s why: The bright orange bikes Motivate uses in the Biketown system were designed and made by a company known as Social Bicycles, which was re-launched as Jump Bikes in January. Then in April, Jump was acquired by Uber, Lyft’s main rival. That means Portland’s bike share system is now managed by Lyft while it uses bikes and technology owned by Uber. What could possibly go wrong?
Posted on May 31st, 2018 at 1:42 pm.