Lucy Morrell and Felix Garcia, who live in Guatemala, rent bicycles from a depot on the Portland waterfront on Friday as they try out Portland’s new bike-share program. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

When Nick Ramos wants an extra few minutes to relax before his shift at Urban Outfitters, he looks out his window on Congress Street.

From inside his apartment, he has a clear view of a rack installed last month as part of Portland’s new bike-share program. So far, he has always been able to rent a bike from that station when he needs one. Riding instead of walking buys him a little more time at home and costs him no more than $2.50.

“I’ll milk that as much as possible,” Ramos, 22, said.

Ramos is one of 376 people who have used the bike-share program since it launched in mid-August. Tandem Mobility, the company hired to run the program, now has 130 bikes at 35 stations in the city. Riders made 1,098 trips between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1, which means many people have been repeat users.

Keli Hoyt-Rupert, the company’s founder and CEO, said that data is slightly above projections for the first weeks.

“To see it in action is really rewarding, and it just reiterates that this type of system can work in Portland,” she said. “I know it’s early yet, but we’re really encouraged by the public support.”


The average trip is between 15 and 20 minutes so far. The busiest stations are those on Commercial Street and near East End Beach. Mondays have the highest volume. Those trends suggest to Hoyt-Rupert that the bikes are being used for both recreation and commuting.

To rent a bike, a rider must download the app Movatic, which shows the station locations and the number of bikes available at each one. Tandem is launching stations as they are approved by the city, and Hoyt-Rupert said the fleet will be up to 150 bikes at 38 stations next week. By the end of September, the company also will have added 50 electric-assisted bikes.

Tandem installed physical racks at most stations, but some are virtual. That means Tandem did not install a rack, but bikes can still be found or left on existing ones at those locations. On Commercial Street, bikes are parked and locked in new silver racks. Outside the Rosemont Market in the West End, a decal marks the spot where two rental bikes with their red baskets are locked alongside personal bikes on city racks.

Outside Masterton Hall on the University of Southern Maine campus, another four bikes waited on a rack near where Psalms Lovejoy was doing schoolwork on Friday.

Lovejoy, 21, had not yet tried the program but was excited to learn about the stations at USM. She had seen one near her job at King of the Roll on Congress Street, and now, she said, she would try riding from campus to work. The chemistry and creative writing student lives in Gorham and takes the bus to Portland and to get around it. Originally from Los Angeles, she had used a bike-share program in the past.

“I think it will be a good start for a healthy commute,” Lovejoy said.


Riders pay $1 to unlock a pedal bike, and then $0.15 for each minute of the ride. Electric bikes will cost $1 to unlock and $0.30 per minute. A ride on a pedal bike from USM to the rack outside Holy Donut on Park Avenue cost $2.05. Another trip from the West End to the Old Port cost $2.65.

A monthly membership is available for $14.99, 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.

Hoyt-Rupert said the company has seen only minimal issues with vandalism or theft, “nothing out of the ordinary.”

Nick Ramos of Portland returns a bicycle to one of Portland’s new bike-share depots at the corner of Temple Street and Middle Street after using it to commute to work on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“The bikes that are not ended at a station are locked, which means people are using the app mostly in the right way, and they’re not misusing the system but it’s just getting them to understand how it works,” she said. “So we’ll continue to work on this.”

The city isn’t paying 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 is 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. Hoyt-Rupert said the company is hoping to secure about $50,000 more before winter and will soon be finalizing a couple of “location sponsors” who are willing to contribute in exchange for advertising space or stations located near their businesses.


The peninsula is now dotted with the silver bike racks, especially downtown. One man who didn’t want to give his name signed up for the app at the rack in Bell Buoy Park near the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal. He had been hoping to find an electric bike but gave a pedal bike a try anyway. His ultimate destination Friday afternoon was in Westbrook, beyond the system’s last bike rack, but he said he planned to ride as far as USM and then board the bus.

“I would use it to go from locale to locale to make a 20-minute walk a 5-minute ride,” he said.

Lucy Morrell, 31, and Felix Garcia, 39, found only one bike on the rack near East End Beach on Friday, so they squeezed onto the seat together and laughed as they pedaled slowly to rent a second bike at the next station on the Eastern Trail. They live in Guatemala, but Morrell is originally from Brunswick, and they were in town visiting her family when they spotted the new bike racks.

A row of bicycles at a depot near Ocean Gateway on the waterfront. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Where to?

“You’re the tour guide,” Garcia said to Morrell.

First, some lunch downtown. Then “maybe a ride around the cove,” Morrell said.

Near “The Maine Lobsterman” statue on Middle Street, Ramos locked the bike he rented for his Friday commute to Urban Outfitters. He said he moved to Portland from New York City earlier this year. He had used a bike-share program there and was excited to see the stations pop up in his new home. He would ride them even in the winter.

“As long as the road are safe, I’ll keep on using the bikes,” Ramos said.

The city and Tandem Mobility will host an official launch for the bike-share program on Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon at the station near Commercial and Dana streets. Hoyt-Rupert said the event will include a ribbon cutting, promo codes for rides and education about the program.

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