Our “Gal By Bike” columnist Kate Johnson recently spent a day embedded with Biketown mechanics and rebalancers. She last wrote about guerrilla artwork on neighborhood greenways.
One fine evening in July of 2016 I just so happened to find myself on a corner outside a warehouse in inner southeast Portland.
Biketown was just days away from launching and the anticipation throughout the city was palpable. Thanks to a truck outside the building, I was able to peer into the windows and see a full fleet of 1,000 loud orange bikes lined up like readied soldiers. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I still well up a bit just thinking about that sight. That room wasn’t just filled with bikes, it was filled with hope — hope that the title of “best bike city” wasn’t just a fluke and hope that we were on the precipice of a great transportation revolution.
Since that day, I have imagined Biketown headquarters to be absolute mania. I envisioned bikes swarming to and fro, bike stands littering the entire warehouse floor — each manned by a mechanic tirelessly torquing their wrenches as sweat beads on their forehead. Much like the New York Stock Exchange — but with bright orange bikes. This is not at all what I found when I visited the headquarters last week. As it turns out, keeping a giant operation of 1,000 bikes and 100 stations going doesn’t have to come down to chaos and hustle and bustle. The folks at Biketown are working smart, efficiently, and having “the most fun you’ll find in any office in Portland” as one employee put it. After spending a day watching how Biketown functions, to say I was impressed would be an understatement.
I know it’s eight months away, but I thought you might want to start saving up for an e-bike…
The Portland Aerial Tram will close for track maintenance from June 23rd through July 30th, 2018. That’s 38 days where you’ll have to find a different way up the hill. If you need or want to bike up to Marquam Hill for the campus and facilities of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), your ride will go from 180 seconds to about 30 minutes. Or maybe not (keep reading).
The Tram is a crucial link between South Waterfront and Marquam Hill for 7,000 daily commuters. OHSU data shows that of the 10,000 employees who work on the hill, about one-fourth of those who take the tram use a bike to get to campus. The Go By Bike valet at the base of the Tram averages over 328 bikes in its parking lot every day.
If a bunch of people decide to hop in a car during the closure this summer, it could be a mess. Not only are the roads leading to Marquam Hill relatively narrow, parking is extremely limited (Metro has reported an eight-year waiting list and an average monthly fee of $128) and spots must be maintained for patients and their visitors. Hopefully a large percentage of people will continue to bike. But it won’t be easy…
The City of Portland just announced an important update to its Biketown for All program that makes it even easier for low-income residents to access to bike share.
As of today, anyone with an Oregon Trail Card is now automatically eligible to take part in the program. PBOT has launched a new online registration form that streamlines the sign-up process. The latest data from the Oregon Department of Human Services indicate there are about 70,000 individuals in the Portland area who have an Oregon Trail Card.
When Biketown for All first launched last year, would-be participants had to be referred into the program by social service organizations (which include: Alder House, Harsch Properties, UGM Women and Children, Home Forward, Central City Concern, Street Roots, Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA), Pacific Towers, Lagunitas, Sisters of the Road, Elders in Action NW, Cascade AIDS Project, Impact NW, and Humboldt Gardens). After the referral, a workshop was mandatory to establish eligibility. (Program partner The Community Cycling Center has hosted 38 workshops since last October.)
Now people who have an Oregon Trail Card can sign up for a membership online (and the workshops are optional).
Portland now operates the nation’s first partnership between a private bike shop, a bike share system and a city government to provide access to adaptive bicycles.
Adaptive Biketown is the latest evolution of our bike share system. But more importantly, adaptive bikes and the people who ride them are now a part of our city, our bikeways, and our community in a way they weren’t before.
Can you believe Biketown is already one? This Wednesday is the official anniversary of the launch of of Portland’s bike share system.
To mark the occasion, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has a full week of festivities and promotions lined up (see below). We’ve also got the latest numbers to show that — while it’s not perfect and there have been bumps along the road — Biketown has been a success.
One year ago Portland was readying for the big debut of its Nike-sponsored bike share system when a thorny issue popped up: The 1,000 Biketown bikes were useless to those with disabilities and who otherwise are unable to ride a standard bicycle.
Instead of ignore the problem, PBOT put their heads down and got to work. They launched a survey to garner feedback from people with disabilities (192 people responded) and convened a task force to figure out how the program could work. The result is a new bike rental system that will be separate from — but complementary to — the Biketown system. It’s set to launch next Friday July 21st.
The new program isn’t fully fleshed out yet; but based on the survey and interviews with adaptive bike users, PBOT has figured out enough to launch a pilot.
The city will work with two existing shops: Kerr Bikes, a rental company; and Different Spokes, an adaptive bike specialist. Each of them have agreed to provide a selection of handcycles, trikes, and tandems to registered users for short-term rentals. Kerr has locations on the Esplanade (near OMSI) and at Salmon Street Fountain in Waterfront Park. Different Spokes is located at SE 4th and Ivon, just steps away from the entrance of the Springwater Corridor.[Read more…]
The Portland Police Bureau has a lead on the suspects in the Biketown vandalism case.
As many as 260 bike share bikes — about one quarter of the entire system — at 32 different Biketown stations were vandalized. Through camera footage, the police have obtained images of the vehicle and three of the suspects and they need the public’s help to further the case.
Below is the official statement, followed by images of the suspects and their car: