Portland residents and visitors have a new way to get around the city with the launch Monday of a bike-share program that soon will bring 200 bicycles for rent to 40 locations around the city.

So far, Tandem Mobility, the Michigan company that is running the program, has installed five stations with 22 bikes on the Portland peninsula. By the end of the week, 50 bikes should be available at 10 to 15 stations.

“It’s been really cool,” said Keli Hoyt-Rupert, founder and chief executive officer of Tandem Mobility. “The reception and excitement from the community has been really amazing. … We’re honored to be a part of the program and excited to see it be successful.”

Matt Tzuker of Portland downloads the app for the new bike share program at a station at the intersection of Middle and Temple streets in Portland on Monday. “I think it’s great,” said Tzuker, who used a similar program when he lived in Boston. Tandem Mobility is running the program and hopes to have 40 locations in the city by Sept. 1. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Portland has been exploring the idea of a bike-share program for years as such programs have grown popular nationwide as a way of reducing vehicle congestion and pollution while encouraging physical health. The city issued two requests for a bike-share vendor in 2019, though neither proposal ended up advancing, and chose Tandem Mobility last year after another request for proposals in May 2021.

“Transportation is one of the key elements in accomplishing our sustainability goals,” said Bruce Hyman, transportation program manager for the city’s Planning & Urban Development Department. “Certainly doing everything we can to create more transportation options for people is part of that strategy. Bike shares have proven very successful in other communities, and we’re excited to jump on board.”



Anyone who wants to take a bike-share bike for a spin can stop by one of the 40 locations expected to be in place by Sept. 1. Most will be on the Portland peninsula and are being installed by Tandem, though about a dozen stations will be “virtual,” meaning Tandem won’t be installing physical structures but they’ll be sites where people can still find or leave bikes.

Virtual stations will show up on the app Movatic, which must be downloaded to unlock and pay for bikes and which offers information on where to find the bikes. Virtual stations also will be identified by decals on the ground and will be places where bikes can be securely locked and picked up. Existing bike racks at the University of Southern Maine offer one location that the city and Tandem are considering for a virtual station.

Using the app, riders will pay $1 to unlock a pedal bike, and then $0.15 for every minute on the bike. Electric-assisted models – 50 out of the 200 bikes to start – will cost $1 to unlock and $0.30 per minute.

Riders will be able to pay $14.99 for a monthly membership, which includes all unlock fees and half off the per-minute rate. An annual membership will be available starting next spring. The bikes are expected to be available from April through November, though that could change if people show interest in riding them in the winter.

“Portland residents are pretty hardy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get feedback that they’d like to see it (in the winter),” Hoyt-Rupert said.

The city won’t have to pay for the program directly, but has offered “in-kind” payment by using city staff to help locate appropriate docking sites and potential donors. Revenue from rentals and sponsorship fees are expected to cover the program’s costs.


Tandem has projected the need for $350,000 a year in sponsorship fees, and most of the first year will be covered by a $150,000 commitment from the Maine Department of Transportation and a $100,000 pledge from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

That support was enough for the launch, said Hoyt-Rupert, but Tandem still is looking to bring in about $75,000 more this year, likely from “location sponsors” who are willing to contribute in exchange for advertising space or stations located near their businesses.


For now, all the stations will be on or just off the peninsula. The five locations set up as of early Monday afternoon include Washington Avenue at Walnut Street, Lobsterman Park at the intersection of Middle and Temple streets, East End Beach, Congress Street at Park Street and Hanover Street at Lancaster Street.

A map of 18 additional outdoor locations permitted by the city so far – where stations will soon be set up – includes the Back Cove Trail at Preble Street, the Portland Expo and Hadlock Field, the Western Promenade and Congress Street at City Hall.

Hyman said some additional sites “just off the peninsula” are being considered, including USM, the Portland Transportation Station and Thompson’s Point. “With people going to concerts and events, we see that as another good option where people could go car-free,” he said.


Hyman said people are free to ride the bikes outside the areas where stations are located, but they must be returned or dropped off at a station. He also stressed that the bike share is a pilot program this year, and that the city will be assessing community response and financial stability in the coming months.

Keli Hoyt-Rupert Founder and CEO of Tandem Mobility watches Cary Tyson, Executive Director of Portland Downtown as he uses his smartphone to rent a bike as part of the new bike share program in Portland on Monday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The city didn’t want to have too many stations spread out over the whole city because that would make the program “pretty diluted,” Hyman said.

“We really wanted it to be convenient so that if two people come up to this station here, there’s not just one bike but multiple bikes. … If it’s successful this year, maybe we’ll see 300 bikes next year,” he said. “That’s our hope and expectation, that we’ll see both an expansion to the service area and the number of bikes – but it’s to be determined based on the success.”


In Lobsterman Park Monday afternoon, three crisp white bikes with baskets on the front sat locked at the new bike-share station.

Matt Tzuker, a 43-year-old resident of the West End, stopped to check out the station and download the app. Tzuker didn’t rent a bike Monday, but he said he used a similar program when he lived in Boston.


“I think it’s great,” he said of Portland’s launch. “I think it’s been successful in other cities, and any reason not to have to drive downtown is good.”

Cary Tyson, executive director of Portland Downtown, a nonprofit focused on improving and promoting the downtown district, brought some of his staff to check out the station and stopped to try out one of the bikes.

Portland Downtown is one of a handful of groups that served as community partners on the project, helping with advocacy and community connections, and Tyson was excited to see it finally get off the ground.

“It was clean and simple and fun,” he said after circling the statue called “The Maine Lobsterman” a few times on the bike.

“Everybody is super psyched for this,” Tyson said. “Everyone has been waiting for this with bated breath. I think they’re going to get tons of use. The peninsula is so popular in the summer. I think once the tourists really start to know these are out, we will see a lot of usage.”

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