A Jump bicycle in Seattle. (Photo: Seattle Department of Transportation)
Sources say the Portland Bureau of Transportation has ended bike share contract negotiations with Lyft and is now jumping on board with Uber.
PBOT sought bidders for a major bike share system expansion last fall and opted to stay with Lyft, the company that owns Biketown operator Motivate Inc. Portland’s current contract with Lyft ended in April and PBOT had been negotiating an extension of that agreement since December. As The Oregonian reported in January, the plan was to stay with Lyft and complete a seamless transition to a larger service area and launch an all-electric bike share fleet this summer.
This will be music to the ears of many of you as we’ve heard numerous complaints about unresponsive keypads for months now. Unlike older kiosk-based systems, the “smart” Biketown bikes the keypads are built into the rear rack. Users must enter a PIN and/or a six-digit rental code to unlock a bike. With over two years of wear-and-tear, many of the keypads simply don’t work anymore. You press the button and either nothing happens or there’s a frustratingly long delay.
Just over a month ago, I ran into this problem when I tried to rent a bike to get home from downtown after a meeting. There weren’t many bikes available and I tried the keypads on two before I gave up. I eventually tracked down an e-scooter and got home.
The next morning I contacted Biketown’s operator Motivate Inc. and asked General Manager Dorothy Mitchell about the problem. Biketown Marketing Manager Tom Rousculp blamed the problem on their vendor, Jump Bikes (formerly Social Bicycles). He said they’d been, “experiencing connectivity issues, including a system-wide outage over the past week that resulted in a number of unresponsive bikes.”
My first time using bike share and my first time on an e-bike. Wheeee! (Photos: Armando Luna)
Today is day 5 of the Portland Aerial Tram shutdown, but for me it’s only the second day I’ve had to deal with getting up the hill without riding the tram. Monday I telecommuted, yesterday I rode one of the shuttles and today I am taking an e-bike. Today was actually my very first time using bike share and riding an ebike.
I chose the Jump bike because I had already downloaded the app and the Lime bikes just arrived yesterday and I don’t have the app yet. OHSU has partnered with these companies to let students and staff use the bikes to get to OHSU, so the usage area is confined to the South Waterfront and the OHSU campus.
After checking my bike in at the Go By Bike valet (Whitaker lot), I opened up the Sobi app and reserved a Jump bike. There were only two, so I got lucky. I as I was trying to remember my pin, my coworker Jennifer showed up and reserved the other bike. She used the Jump bike yesterday to ride up the hill, so I asked her if we could ride together. I loaded my bag and speaker into the Jump bike basket and we were on our way.