After years of discussion, Portland is again seeking proposals to design, market and operate a municipal bike-share program that officials say could increase affordable and healthy transit in the city.

Portland has been exploring the idea of a bike-share program since 2012 and received grant money to support a study that concluded the city is a good candidate for a program because of its urban environment and tourism. The city anticipates the first year of the program would be a provisional pilot period that would begin by June 2022.

Bike-share programs provide free or affordable access to bicycles for short-distance trips in cities. They typically use heavy-duty bicycles stored at stations scattered around the city. The goal is to reduce automobile congestion, noise and air pollution while promoting personal health and environmental health.

The programs have surged in popularity in many large cities such as Washington, D.C., and Boston and are hailed as a way to reduce vehicle congestion and related pollution while encouraging healthy lifestyles.

“Expanded ways for people to safely bike in Portland is consistently mentioned by residents as something they value and hope to see more of,” Christine Grimando, Portland’s planning and urban development director, said in a statement. “Having a bike share system in Portland will be a fantastic opportunity for us to increase affordable, healthy transit and recreation options for all.”

In 2013, Portland began planning for a bike-share program with help from a roughly $25,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The city was one of five communities selected from a nationwide pool of 121 applicants to receive technical assistance to explore setting up a bike-share program. The resulting feasibility report determined Portland is a good candidate for a bike-share program and outlined strategies for implementing one.


The city in 2019 issued two requests for proposals seeking a bike-share vendor, but neither resulted in an implemented system.

As part of a revamped RFP this year, the city collaborated with Downtown Portland and the Chamber of Commerce for a limited survey of 92 businesses. It found that 78 percent of surveyed businesses strongly support the concept of a bike-share program. More than 13 percent of businesses said they “somewhat support” the idea, according to the survey.

The city’s goals for the bike-share program are to promote and encourage bicycling as a safe and sustainable mode of transportation for short local trips; expand low-cost, low-barrier and equitable transportation options; provide first-mile and last-mile options for city transit stops and transportation hubs; decrease drive-alone trips and increase the share of bicycling trips within Portland; and expand tourist travel options and encourage car-free visits to Portland.

Portland is looking for a provider that will be responsible for all aspects of the bike-share program, from planning to equipment purchase to maintenance. It must also provide marketing, ongoing customer service, and evaluation and reporting.

The bike-share program could be dockless, station-based or a hybrid system and fleets may consist of both nonelectric and electric-assist bicycles. The city is strongly encouraging the inclusion of electric-assist bikes, according to the RFP. Electric-only bikes are not allowed as part of the program and no e-scooter program will be allowed during the pilot period.

Bike-share bicycles should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a range of membership options, according to the RFP. The city prefers a system that would be sustained by a combination of funding sources, including sponsorships, membership revenue and bike-share system fees.

Portland is seeking a proposal that encompasses the entire city, but a smaller geographic area could be proposed for the initial pilot period. The number of bicycles in the bike-share fleet during the pilot program would be proposed by the provider but subject to city approval, according to city officials.

Portland’s bike network currently has 22 miles of bike lanes, 9 miles of shared-use pathways and 5.5 miles of bicycle boulevards. Additional miles of each type are in the planning and design phases, according to the city.

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