Portland has chosen a national company to plan and launch the city’s first bike share program, a transportation system that will give people the option of riding traditional and electric-assist bicycles throughout the city in an effort to reduce automobile congestion, noise and air pollution.

Here’s what a Portland bike share bike might look like. Image courtesy Tandem Mobility

Portland has selected Tandem Mobility, a company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to plan and launch a pilot bike share program by no later than June 2022, according to a news release issued Monday by Jessica Grondin, the city’s spokeswoman. Tandem Mobility operates bike share programs across the country.

“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, the city’s Planning & 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.”

Portland’s bike share program will not be funded by the city. Instead, Tandem Mobility will work with the city this fall and winter to find corporate sponsors and it will embark on a fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $200,000.

“The city will not be funding any part of this,” Keli Hoyt-Rupert, Tandem Mobility’s founder and CEO, said in an interview Monday.

Rider fees also will help support the pilot, but will not be the program’s sole source of funding. It will cost a rider $1 to unlock a bike and 15 cents per minute to ride a pedal bike. Electric-assist bikes will cost 25 cents a minute.

Riders will access and pay for bikes via an app on their phone using a valid credit card. The app supports a wallet feature that will allow cash payment. The electric-assist bikes will be charged by Tandem’s local operations teams. Those bikes feature an electric motor and batteries that can be swapped out as needed basis.

Hoyt-Rupert said day passes also will be offered. Day passes will likely appeal to tourists or visitors who want to spend the day riding around Portland. Day passes will cost between $10 and $15 per day. She said an annual membership pass will be offered as well at a cost of $100. Annual passes would likely appeal to Portland commuters, who would rather ride a bike to work than drive a car or take public transit, she said.

None of the fees that Tandem has proposed are final and may be changed after consulting with the city, Hoyt-Rupert said.

The city wants to make the new system affordable and accessible to as many people as possible, including college students and low-income people. Discounts may be offered.

“There will also be more affordable options for lower-income riders to make sure the system is equitable and accessible to as many people as possible,” Grondin said.

FLEET OF 200 BIKES

Tandem plans to deploy a fleet of about 200 new bicycles – with about 25 percent of them electric – that it purchased from a Boston company last year.

Most of the bikes in the fleet will be cruisers, which have thicker tires and are designed for riding in cities where there are more potholes, bumps and street obstacles to contend with. The bikes probably will be fitted with baskets on the front and may contain the name of the program or its sponsors, Hoyt-Rupert said.

She said her company will install 20 bike share locking stations at locations across the city. More stations could be installed if, for example, a business, such as a hotel, approves.

Tandem’s goal is to have the bike share program up and running by June 2022. The pilot program will operate for one year before a decision is made on whether to continue offering the service.

Bike share programs have surged in popularity in many large American cities, including Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., and are hailed as a way to reduce vehicle congestion and pollution while encouraging healthy lifestyles. Portland has been exploring the idea of a bike-share program since 2012.
The city issued two requests for proposals seeking a bike-share vendor in 2019, but neither proposal advanced. This year, the  city collaborated with Downtown Portland and the Chamber of Commerce and surveyed 92 businesses. The survey found that 78 percent of businesses strongly support the concept of a bike-share program. Portland issued a request for proposals in May, which resulted in Tandem Mobility being chosen to operate the pilot program.

Portland’s bike network has been evolving for two decades. It currently offers 22 miles of bike lanes, nine miles of shared use pathways and 5 ½ miles of bicycle boulevards.


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