A Tandem Mobility bike rental station at California State Polytechnic University Humboldt in Arcata, California. Tandem has been chosen to launch a similar service in Portland and said it aims to do so in July. Photo courtesy of Tandem Mobility

The company contracted to run a long-awaited bike-share program in Portland is running up against a tight deadline to put its rental bicycles on city streets by the end of July.

A planned June launch was delayed as the contractor, Michigan-based Tandem Mobility, secured major “title” sponsorships for the program. It is still recruiting local sponsors for bike docking stations and hasn’t yet finalized its contract with the city or settled on where stations will be placed around Portland.

Those plans are expected to come together in short order, and the company hopes to put a portion of its planned 200-bicycle fleet on city streets in mid- to late July, said Tandem CEO Keli Hoyt-Rupert.

“We are not sitting on our hands – we are doing a number of things for us to hit ‘go’ as we get everything finalized,” Hoyt-Rupert said.

Pushing the launch out any further could force another delay into next year because of seasonality, she added.

“If we don’t launch until August or September, we risk not launching until next year, which would put us and the city in a difficult position,” Hoyt-Rupert said. “It is an all-hands-on-deck situation to meet that (July) deadline.”


Plans for a bike-share program in Portland have simmered for at least five years. Last year, the city selected Tandem to put 200 bicycles – including 50 electric-assisted models – onto Portland streets by this June.

Challenges meeting a $350,000 annual sponsorship goal pushed that date back, Hoyt-Rupert said. Tandem eventually secured a $150,000 annual commitment from the Maine Department of Transportation and another $100,000 pledge from Point 32 Health, the parent company of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan.

Tandem is trying to raise another $50,000 through docking station sponsorships. Those sponsorships go for about $7,500 apiece, but the company will be able to launch the bike-share program without them, Hoyt-Rupert said.

Tandem intends to install at least 20 docking stations specially for its rentable bicycles. Another 20 to 25 “virtual stations” using designated spaces in existing bike racks with space to lock up the shared bicycles will be spread across the city.

Portland and Tandem have not yet finalized a contract. General locations for docking stations have been identified but not confirmed.

“We expect the contracting process to be completed within the next several weeks,” Portland Communications Director Jessica Grondin said via email. “We are expecting there to be a multiyear aspect, with the first year being a pilot program.”

Portland will be equal in size to Tandem’s biggest bike-share program since the company launched in 2020. Each of its roughly two dozen existing programs has about 40 bikes on average, with only a handful of bikes at some business campuses and other locations. Its largest program so far is in Wichita, Kansas, with 200 bikes and eight docking stations, Hoyt-Rupert said.

Riders will be able to unlock bikes with a smartphone app and ride bicycles between docking stations. It is expected to cost $1 to unlock a bike and 25 cents to 30 cents a minute to ride.

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