Biketown has become a fixture in Portland in two short years. (Photo: Jonathan Maus)
Can you believe it’s already been two years since those bright orange bikes hit the streets of Portland?
Biketown launched on July 19th, 2016 and today the City of Portland and Motivate, the system’s operator, are hosting a party to celebrate.
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…]
Starting this Thursday, Portland State University students can use Biketown for free.
The partnership is part of a new agreement to cement the downtown campus as the cycling epicenter of Portland. PSU says the program will be paid for via auto parking revenue.
It’s a natural step for the campus that serves nearly 30,000 students and is one of only five colleges in the county that has earned a Platinum Bicycle Friendly University award from the League of American Bicyclists.
Last May, Biketown expanded service at PSU by making it a “super hub zone” where people can park bikes on any available rack without incurring a fee. At a meeting of the City of Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee last night, Bureau of Transporation Bike Share Program Manager Steve Hoyt-McBeth said usage rates at PSU have been “bezonkers” ever since. PSU is also Under the new agreement, students can take unlimited trips and get up to 90 minutes of Biketown usage at no charge. The offer is available to any current student with a valid @pdx.edu email address. PSU staff and faculty can already get a discounted Biketown membership for $7 a month (with an annual commitment). [Read more…]
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? [Read more…]
Aiming to make the service easier and cheaper to use, the City of Portland has announced that Biketown will expand eastward, have more payment options, and will no longer charge a $2 fee (to annual members) for parking outside a designated rack. [Read more…]
It’s usually a good sign when the private sector invests in a city-run transportation program. Such is the case with the new Biketown station at the new Field Office in northwest Portland.
Believing that access to bike share is an asset for their tenants and neighbors, the developers of a pair of new office buildings on NW Front/Naito between 15th and 17th have ponied up for a station and 15 bikes. [Read more…]
These users would usually been fined $2 for parking here. It’s been fun to see so many Biketown bikes parked all over town. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Portland’s experiment with free Biketown rides and parking fee waiver have led to record usage.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation just announced that people have taken 30,238 trips on the system so far this month — a 120 percent increase over the same time last year.
And Biketown broke a new one-day record on Saturday, May 12th with 3,591 rides (the old record of 2,990 rides was on July 30, 2016).
The official, stated reason for the free promotion was National Bike Month (it’s also Bike More Challenge here in Portland); but it’s clear that PBOT wants (needs) to test the waters of a “dockless” system. Dockless bike and electric scooter share systems are transforming how people get around because of they’re more simple to use, more affordable, and easier to access than more traditional, kiosk-based systems. PBOT likes to say that Biketown is already dockless because all the rental software and tech is on the bikes and kiosks aren’t needed; but the parking restrictions and relatively small service area are both very limiting factors.
Also of note is that private firms like Jump, Lime, and others are salivating at the potential of the Portland market for their dockless products. (Unconfirmed word on the street is that PBOT is finalizing a permit process for dockless e-scooter share which should be ready by the end of June.
Whether the free rides or the lack of a $2 fine for parking outside of designated parking zones was the attraction, Portlanders have responded well to more Biketown. Jessica Engelman shared via Twitter today that as an annuam member the free rides didn’t influence her usage much. “But not having to pay $2 to park outside of stations certainly did.” Engelman is using the system 275 percent more so far this year compared to last year.
Keep in mind that 1,000 bikes spread out over our existing service area is a very, very small system compared to global best practices. To truly reap the benefits of shared bikes, we need thousands more of them. And, as this experiments proves, they need to be as affordable and accessible as possible.
How has the free ride and parking policy changes impacted you?
Spring fever has hit Biketown too. (Photo: J. Maus)
The City of Portland has launched a novel promotion to boost Biketown ridership next month: It’s completely free.
To celebrate National Bike Month, the bureau of transportation announced today that new and existing Biketown riders can use the bright orange bikes for up to 90 minutes without being charged. Annual members who’ve already paid will get a promo code worth $12 (the monthly price). Better yet, the free promotion extends to the system’s Adaptive Biketown program, and the Biketown for All program, which offers disounted memberships to people living on low-incomes.
But wait! There’s more! During the month of May, the entire Biketown service area will become a “super hub zone.” That is, you’ll be able to park the bikes anywhere without incurring a fee. This aspect of the promotion is also a way for the City of Portland to highlight the dockless capabilities of the system — at a moment when they’re feeling pressure from private firms who want to release dockless scooters and bikes in Portland. [Read more…]
Is Portland is about to get a dockless bike share system?
According to this job listing, LimeBike is hiring a full-time operations manager for Portland. The listing says the manager will oversee a team of employees “ranging from 4 to 20.”
There’s been no public announcement, and I don’t have a response from the City of Portland yet, but hiring a full-time manager sure seems like a precursor to doing business.
Either way, if LimeBike is coming to Portland it would not be a huge surprise.
As we shared back in January, Portland Bureau of Transportation staffers took a field trip up to Seattle to test dockless bikes — with LimeBike being one of them. There’s also a personal connection between Portland and LimeBike: the company’s Chief Program Officer is Scott Kubly. Kubly and PBOT Director Leah Treat are former colleagues who worked together in Chicago as deputies under Chicago DOT Director Gabe Klein. Kubly resigned from Seattle’s top transportation job in December and was hired by LimeBike earlier this month to handle business development and government relations. [Read more…]