Free bikes you can park (nearly) anywhere prove wildly popular in Portland

by on May 15th, 2018 at 6:02 pm

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?

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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A Paul Bunyan-themed Biketown bike? Your vote could make it a reality

by on April 26th, 2018 at 9:57 am

Teresa Bubb’s design is inspired by the Paul Bunyan statue that watches over the Kenton neighborhood in North Portland. See all 15 finalists below.

A panel of judges has picked the finalists in a design competition that will bring new colors to Portland’s fleet of Biketown bikes.

And it’s time to vote on them.
[Read more…]

Ride Biketown for free and park anywhere you want in May

by on April 24th, 2018 at 9:48 am

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…]

Why is LimeBike hiring a full-time operations manager in Portland?

by on March 26th, 2018 at 11:07 am

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…]

Biketown launches ‘Design Challenge’ to flood streets with art on wheels

by on February 14th, 2018 at 7:30 am

They do it for shoes; why not do it for bike share bikes?
[Read more…]

Gal by Bike: A day with the people who make Biketown tick

by on November 2nd, 2017 at 11:31 am

Motivate employee Nissy Cobb tests the tech during a service call.
(Photos: Kate Johnson)

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.

Selfie in full safety regalia.

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.
[Read more…]

The Aerial Tram will close for 38 days next summer

by on October 17th, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Go By Bike shop in South Waterfront-9

The Tram reflected in an OHSU building as seen from the Go By Bike valet lot.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

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…
[Read more…]

Portland now offers online bike share memberships for food-stamp card holders

by on August 30th, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Biketown for All member Jon Horton.
(Photo: PBOT)

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).
[Read more…]

As stationless bike share booms in Seattle, Portland stands pat (for now)

by on July 28th, 2017 at 10:22 am

Seattle’s orange bikes seemingly came out of nowhere and have quickly saturated the city. What would happen if they launched in Portland?
(Images: Spin Seattle)

Is there room for another bike share system in Portland?

A company called Spin that just launched in Seattle thinks so. Spin is a start-up fueled by venture capitalists and founded by Derrick Ko, a former product manager at Lyft who’s now Spin’s CEO.
[Read more…]

‘Adaptive Biketown’ program brings new riders to the fore

by on July 21st, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Adaptive Bike Rental program launch-5.jpg

Handcycles, trikes, and tandems are now part of the Biketown mix.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

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.
[Read more…]