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Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is bike share?

Bike share systems let people check out a bicycle to ride from one point in the city to another for a small fee. In cities across the globe, bike share systems have proven popular and successful by giving residents and visitors a fast, inexpensive and easy transportation option. Use bike share to get to work, run errands, connect to a transit line, visit friends and family or enjoy the city.

Why is Portland interested in Bike Share?

Bike share will be a great addition to North America’s most bike-friendly city. In Minneapolis, Denver, Miami, Washington, D.C., Des Moines, Chicago, Louisville, San Antonio and 33 other US cities, people are finding their bike share systems to be a simple and attractive alternative to driving and a positive addition to bus and rail systems.

Having a bike share system means giving Portlanders an efficient, sustainable choice. Our region has a comprehensive and safe bikeway network that bike share customers can use to cover short trips quickly. Bike share riders will move throughout the city without adding to road congestion and parking demand, while improving air quality and personal health by forgoing a car trip. Residents, business owners and travelers want bike share to come to Portland for all these reasons.

Who is paying for it?

Regional leaders approved the use of federal transportation funds in 2011 to help start Portland bike share. Private sponsorships and revenue from bike share memberships and user fees will cover remaining costs for the bike share system.

What kind of bicycle is used for bike share?

Bike share systems use bicycles specifically designed to meet tough, 24/7, outdoor conditions. These bikes are sturdy, yet comfortable to ride, have adjustable-height seats and baskets to conveniently hold a purse, briefcase or shopping bag. They also look unique to prevent theft and are outfitted with an electronic system that lets the bike be checked in and out of stations. Bikes are clean and reliable. Phase I of the system is proposed for 750 bicycles and 75 stations. Nice Ride in Minneapolis, for example, started with a fleet of 700 bikes in 2010 and has expanded to more than 1,200 bikes.

Where are bikes stored, checked out and returned?

Bike Share systems include a fleet of bikes that are stored, checked out and returned at bike share “stations” located throughout a metropolitan area.  The number of stations varies depending on the area served and the density of stations. Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C., for example, has 140 stations in D.C. and Northern Virginia. Customers check out and return bikes on their own by following the posted instructions. 

Stations consist of a series of bike docks, which lock and release the bikes at the beginning and end of rides, bike share bikes, a power source (usually solar), payment interface and signage to make the stations visible and easy to use. They can be 40 to more than 70 feet long and are typically six feet wide. Locations for stations vary throughout a system. They can be located in the parking lanes of public streets, wide sidewalks, parks, university campuses, train stations, privately-owned plazas and tourist attractions. Installation is not invasive and requires no excavation. To provide ample space for customers to check out and return bikes, bike share stations usually have twice as many spots to dock a bike as there are bicycles kept at the station.

Bike share operators are required by contract to conduct regular maintenance on the bicycles and stations and their appearance in neighborhoods and business districts has been welcomed and accepted in other major cities.

How much does it cost to use bike share?

The cost to check out a bike and be a bike share member is yet to be determined. The majority of American systems require riders to become “members” before checking out a bike. Memberships in these systems range from $5 to $10 for a day and range from $50 to $100 for a year in other systems. Once you’re a member, the first 30 minutes of every ride are typically free.  Ride longer, and a small fee is added to a rider’s total cost. However, you may return the bike to any station and receive another free 30 minutes.

What forms of payment are accepted?

Other systems require a credit or debit card to become a member and check out a bike. Using a bank card system makes users accountable for appropriate costs and prevents theft. Since this presents a barrier to people who don’t have access to credit, bike share systems in Washington,D.C., and Denver are working on pilot projects to make their services available to those without bank cards. The City of Portland plans to apply the best practices emerging from these cities and apply them to Portland.

Where will the bike share stations be located?

You tell us! 

Portland is asking private sector vendors responding to its request for proposals to submit a geographical service area that the first phase of a bike share system could successfully serve. Please use the online tool linked above to share your own idea for where a bike share station should go in. 

Have more questions?

Please reach out to staff at the Portland Bureau of Transportation, who are securing a private sector partner to start bike share in Portland. Email, call 503-823-7191, or write 1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204.