Biketown Portland

Portland has long been a paragon of bicycle friendliness. On warm, summer evenings you can often see and hear bicyclists on busy streets, taking in the sweetness of rare, long days that melt into soft, starry skies. Whether you commute to work on our (mostly) rainy streets or you’re a weekend bike warrior in a mass ride (like the Naked Bike Ride, Pedalpalooza, or Cross Crusade Series), our town embraces your bike zeal.

We’ve done a lot of things in our city to help make it easier for people to get around on two, non-motorized wheels. We’ve set up a number of “bike-priority” streets, that we call Portland Neighborhood Greenways. Our TriMet public transportation system has developed a bike plan that includes Bike & Ride, Electronic Bike Lockers, bike racks at most rail stations, and designated bike spaces on all of our buses and MAX light rail trains, so cyclists can take public transportation with their bikes when needed.

But arguably the biggest thing we’ve done happens to be our latest effort: partnering with Nike to get our bike share program rolling (so to speak). Together we’re calling the new program Biketown.

This citywide bike share system is set to launch this summer. Originally we thought we’d only have 600 bikes but the five year, $10 million partnership with Nike will allow us to get to 1000. It also offers the opportunity to have bikeshare stations in more places throughout the city.

Portland is consistently named one of America’s top bicycling towns and Biketown will help ensure we live up to that reputation.

What’s more, with Nike’s partnership, we are doing it without spending city funds for Biketown operations. Besides the lead sponsorship money from Nike, the program is funded by a $2 million federal grant, which the Metro Council approved in 2011. We expect more sponsors to come on board and user fees will also help offset operational costs.

Steve at the Biketown unveiling

Biketown is truly a Portland creation that’s been years in the making. We made it a priority to provide a low-cost, flexible, transportation option. Livability matters a great deal to those who call Portland home. Walking and biking to our town’s top notch restaurants, food cart pods, craft beer establishments, and other local outlets are as much a part of our self-identity as gray skies, the Timbers Army, and roses. And Nike has a long history of supporting sports and physical activity in Portland.

But we also understand that bike sharing helps us tackle that greatest challenge in human history: climate change. More bike availability means fewer cars on our roads and less carbon in our atmosphere. It means people gaining the health benefits of exercise and experiencing our beautiful city in ways that being in a car just doesn’t allow.

Renting a bike for 30 minutes will cost about $2.50, which the city said would be the lowest fee in the country. Users can also buy a $10 to $15 a month membership, good for up to 90 minutes of bike time a day.

Steve and his staff with Biketown at Portland City Hall

So this summer as you’re making your plans to get from A to B in Portland, Biketown will be there for you, with its pop of bright orange and an invitation to explore.