Portland, OR, Announces a New Bike Share Program for 2016

After years of delays, the city of Portland, OR, is finally on track to get a bike share program.

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After years of delays, the city of Portland, Oregon is finally on track to get a bike share program. The system is set to be up and running by the Spring of 2016. While this announcement has been made before, the city that cried “Bike Share!” is hopefully sticking to its word this time.

Portland has teamed up with Motivate, Inc. for a “smart-bike” system which functions sort of like a biking version Car2Go. While riders can return the bikes to a designated hub as in typical bike share systems, they also have the option to lock the bike to any rack within the service area for a small fee. This recently launched system, predicted to be the change bike share needs to find success in the future, dramatically cuts down one of the biggest expenditures for bike share operators – rebalancing the docking stations.

And fortunately, if there’s one thing Portland does extremely well compared to most cities in America, it’s bike parking. In the eight-square-mile radius that is to be where Portland’s Bike Share operation will begin, the city has already begun the process of installing 3,000 public bike racks equaling over 6,000 bike spots.

Portland’s efforts to bring bike share home date back to 1994 when the United Community Action Network started the Yellow Bike Project by placing 1,000 yellow bikes around the city–akin to the community bicycles in Amsterdam. The Community Cycling Center later took over the project in 2000 and adopted the yellow bikes into the Create a Commuter Program that focuses on low-income adults, which still exists to this day.

In 2012 the city of Portland and Metro approved a plan for a bike rental program that would cost $4 million. However, even before the program could take off, Alta Bicycle Share, Inc.’s supplier, Bixi, went bankrupt in January 2014.

Alta was rebranded as Motivate, LLC, earlier this year and some are viewing this delayed program as a good thing. In waiting, costs have decreased and have new funding opportunities have arisen. So while they were talking about spending $4 million in 2012 for 750 bikes, now they have coverage by federal grants and other sponsors. Subsequently, Portland has also skipped about a generation of unreliable software still being used in places like New York, and hopefully will end up with a much better system than it would have without its years of mishaps.

Portland City Council will be voting on this deal Wednesday, September 23rd; people who support bike share are encouraged by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) to come out and show their encouragement.


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