The two largest car-sharing companies in Portland have announced that some of the vehicles in their fleet will now be equipped with bike racks.
Car2go launched in Portland in 2012 and currently has 475 cars in their local fleet. They first installed bike racks on their vehicles in 2014 then phased them out when they moved to larger vehicles last fall. At the time, company officials said bicycle users could put the seats down and stuff bikes in the back.
Those cute blue and white cars that have become nearly ubiquitous on the streets of Portland in recent years are going away. Car2go, a carsharing company with 54,000 members in Portland, announced today they will phase out their compact, 2-seater Smart cars in favor of a larger vehicle.
The news is being received with some jeers from the many users of the service who liked not just the small size of the Smart cars but the fact that they came with a bike rack. A 2015 survey from the company found that sixty-eight percent of their Portland customers biked at least once per week, and 37 percent biked five to seven times a week. 76 percent of survey-takers said they wanted bike racks the local fleet.
The more seamlessly mobile future we’ve been talking about since November has started to arrive.
On Thursday, TriMet announced that you can now begin the process of hailing a Lyft or reserving a car2go using their TriMet Tickets app.
“More options, including BIKETOWN bike sharing, are expected be included in the future,” the regional transit agency wrote on its website.
This is a milestone for two reasons: first, it seems to be the first time any transit agency in the country has offered this kind of service, which envisions transit users not as monomodal drones who only get around by train or bus but as actual humans who are constantly using different tools for different jobs.
Second, it’s a real-life step (though a small one) toward the vision spelled out by cities like Helsinki to “make car ownership pointless” within a decade by creating a single, connected “mesh” of options that can whisk you around the city as efficiently — more efficiently, actually — as owning a car and taking it everywhere with you.
If you own a car but don’t use it much, or if you don’t own a car but want one occasionally, your options keep getting better.
First came CarSharing Portland (the company that reintroduced car-sharing to the country in 1998) and its corporate successors Flexcar and Zipcar. Later came car2go, which was like Zipcar but you could return it anywhere inside the service area. And Getaround, which let people make money by essentially turning their personal car into a Zipcar.
Now, Turo is making a bid to increase its usage in the Portland area. The company essentially lets people turn their personal car into a Hertz: it’s like Getaround but it’s optimized for car rentals that last one or more days at a time.
The “single, supple mesh of mobility” that the government of Helsinki is hoping to use to “make car ownership pointless” by 2025 may be arising spontaneously and gradually in Portland.
For people reading between the lines, an announcement Tuesday from the North American Bike Share Association could lead to Portland becoming the first U.S. city where a single mobile app will be able to let you plan a trip and buy a ride from a bike share service, transit agency, carsharing company or ride-hailing service.
For three years, Portlanders have been able to bring in extra cash by sharing their personal cars, trucks and vans on Getaround. But until this spring, a car owner had to personally approve every request, forcing reservations to be planned well in advance.
Now, the service has removed that hurdle. Anyone sharing their car on Getaround must obtain a Getaround Connect dashboard device for $99 plus $20 a month, then mark online any time slots the car is available for sharing.
After a member survey found huge overlap between car2go users and bicycle users in Portland, the carsharing service car2go has now added rear bike racks to half of its 500-car local fleet.
Portland is the first city to get the racks, which are set up in such a way that the rear tailgate of the car2go can’t open on cars that have the racks. (The rear window, however, can still be opened.)