Sources: Portland bike share talks break down, Uber now in line for major expansion contract

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.

That plan appears to have shifted.

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An Uber driver strikes again: 3 assaults on bicycle riders in 10 weeks

This Uber driver is parked illegally and is creating a dangerous situation by parking in a cycling-only lane on NE Multnomah.(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
This Uber driver is parked illegally and is creating a dangerous situation by parking in a cycling-only lane on NE Multnomah.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

People who drive for ride-sharing company Uber frequently ignore a key traffic law that impacts bicycle access on major streets. And when called out for doing so the drivers have a tendency to lash out at — and in some cases physically assault and/or harrass — other road users.

We now know of three such incidents in the past ten weeks.

This morning we received an email from a reader who came upon an Uber driver who was parked on the new raised bike lane on NE Couch as it enters the Burnside Bridge. When the bicycle rider confronted the person inside the car and attempted to photograph the vehicle, he claims he was verbally threatened. “He got out of his vehicle, got face-to-face with me, and threatened to asssault me.” Not wanting the situation to escalate, the man on the bicycle says he stood down and let the driver vent. That tactic didn’t prevent the driver from forcibly grabbing his bike and throwing it aside.

On October 19th another Portlander tried to document illegal and dangerous parking by someone who drives for Uber (and Lyft). He said the driver got mad, stepped out of the car, and grabbed his phone. He captured it on Twitter…

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Hit by Uber driver? Portlander watches as car that hit him drives off

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Park Blocks 5

SW Park Street, a bit south of the incident described.
(Photo: Marilyn M)

Here’s a troubling incident that doesn’t directly involve a bike, but certainly could have.

Less than a month after Portland became one of the first cities to legalize Internet-based ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, it calls into question the street culture that such services could be creating.

According to a local lawyer, it seems to qualify as a hit-and-run. Police are declining to investigate.

Here’s the account from reader John E. (emphases mine):

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Big day at City Hall affects pedicabs, taxi safety and backyard homes

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Commissioner Fritz.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A flurry of end-of-year activity at Portland City Hall Wednesday led to changes in three different stories we’ve been tracking on BikePortland.

With Commissioner Amanda Fritz playing a key role in all three votes, the council agreed to delay changes to pedicab rules that would have required pedicab operators to hold driver’s licenses and have a year of continuous driving experience; to require a one-time “defensive driving” training for taxi, Lyft and Uber workers rather than retrainings every two years; and to allow small accessory dwelling units to be built near the edge of properties as long as they’re no larger than the garages that have long been allowed near property lines.

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New rules would require Portland pedicab operators to drive cars and carry car insurance

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
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A night ride.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

“Half my guys don’t even have driver’s licenses — in fact, I don’t have a driver’s license.”
— Kyle Kautz, owner at PDX Pedicab

Three weeks ago, a task force convened by Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick released a new set of regulations for “for-hire vehicles” like taxis, Lyft and Uber.

Also included in the new rules: pedicabs — but the rules for those seem to have been written mostly with copy-paste buttons.

The result: According to code now under review at city council, car-free Portlanders would need not apply for pedicab jobs.

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Portland will require cab and Uber drivers to take Vision Zero safety training

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Riding Portland's urban highways-8

Eyes on the street?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

At their best, Lyft and Uber are better cab companies, one more piece of a system that enables low-car life.

At their worst, they’re a system for subsidizing an army of people driving around town with their eyes glued to GPS screens.

Portland’s new regulations of for-hire transportation companies, released last week, include an interesting change that’s supposed to target the problem: the city’s first mandatory safety training for drivers of taxis and “transportation network companies” like Uber or Lyft.

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Language Matters: Three rhetorical tricks bike advocates could learn from Uber’s Plouffe

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward


(Video courtesy Willamette Week/Tech Fest Northwest)

Language Matters is an occasional column about the ways we talk about bikes and biking.

When bike believers get political, they often struggle with talking points. People who know the argument for biking in their bones can forget that those who don’t ride won’t be convinced without words.

David Plouffe has never struggled with talking points.

The Obama campaign manager and strategic advisor turned professional Uber evangelist was in town last week to speak at the annual Tech Fest Northwest conference, and his 13-minute stump speech on behalf of his current employer was a rhetorical sight to behold.

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City makes deal to legalize Uber, sharpening deadline for safety requirements

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Riding Portland's urban highways-8

Uber inside?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

If Portland’s street safety advocates hope to put special requirements on Uber drivers, they’d better move fast.

On Thursday afternoon, city officials reached a deal that will make Uber and similar ride-summoning services legal by April 9. In exchange, Uber promised to suspend its service in the city starting on Sunday.

According to Willamette Week, the first local outlet to report on the city’s deal:

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