The Portland Bureau of Transportation has announced a new 5-year contract extension for the Biketown bike share system. The contract maintains partnerships with Lyft and founding sponsor Nike and will go in front of City Council for approval on July 22nd.
The contract means we can expect a major expansion that includes an all-new fleet of 1,500 pedal-assisted electric bikes with a top speed of 20-mph. The new system will go live in September with a service area that will include east Portland, the Jade District, portions of Lents, Gateway, and more. In total the orange Biketown vehicles will be accessible in 32 square miles of our city. PBOT says the fleet will expand to 2,500 bikes in 2021 and plans are in place for more expansions by 2024 that will boost the number of bikes to 3,000 and push the system even further into east and north Portland (including Kenton and St. Johns) as well as southwest Portland.
The design of the new bikes maintains the basic aesthetics of the current version. As you can see in the photo below, there’s a cool new front fender and all the essential urban bike features including a bell, front and rear lights, step-through frame, upright riding position, and a redesigned front cargo basket (with a 25-pound capacity).
Nike’s continued sponsorship is another sign that Biketown has been a success since it was launched in 2016.
“We believe Portlanders deserve access to affordable, active and sustainable transportation options,” said Nike’s Chief Social & Community Impact Officer Jorge Casimiro in a statement.
Today’s news is a welcome relief since we reported in May that contract negotiations had become tense.
The contract with Lyft (the company that owns Biketown’s operator Motivate, Inc.) keeps the system in the hands of the same operator as before which should make the transition to the new system much easier. On that note, PBOT says current Biketown members will be automatically rolled over in the new system.
Here are a few more details about the bikes and system released by PBOT today:
– Riding age will be lowered to 16 (down from 18).
– Bikes are pedal-assist, meaning you get a boost only when pedaling and there is no throttle.
– Membership fees are $99 per year plus 10-cents per minute*, or $1 per ride and 20-cents per minute.
– Low-income program is $5 per month plus 5-cents per minute.
– E-bikes are not allowed on transit vehicles
This is great news. Electric bikes are game-changers when it comes to urban transportation. They are the most efficient, convenient, fun and healthy way to transport people over trips up to 5-6 miles. Given that PBOT and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly are also poised for big progress on bike infrastructure-related policies and projects, this could be a major 1-2 punch for our transportation system at a time when we desperately need viable options to transit and driving cars.
Stay tuned for more coverage.
UPDATE 11:32 am: To clarify the new prices. Note that rates are going up. There’s no more “First 90 minutes free” for annual members. PBOT confirmed with us that all minutes will be charged at 10-cents per minute. Here’s statement from PBOT:
“The cost of operating an e-bike system is higher, but we think it will be worth it. These bikes will help more people reach more places, faster and easier. People who are new to biking will find themselves biking farther than they ever thought they would, and we think they’ll be inspired to explore biking further, by buying their own bike and growing their relationship with BIKETOWN.”
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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