The idea to provide a fleet of shared bikes in downtown Portland that would be rentable like Zipcars has seens stalls and restarts over the years. While the city is currently pondering a plan to put about 660 shared bikes on our streets, other cities are starting to seriously endanger our "America's Best Bike City" cred—Boston, a town which just got around to painting its first bike lanes last year has selected a vendor for its bike-sharing program and plans to soon launch about 1,200 shared bikes.
"Will Boston's bike-sharing scheme catch on in car-obsessed America?" ask international news outlets. Boston is teaching America how to live car free, not Portland? The shame! The shame!
Finding a vendor and figuring out the estimated $2.6 million cost of a bike sharing system are two big hurdles for Portland's tentative bike sharing plan. While big-name companies foot the bill for bike sharing systems in some European cities—in exchange for plastering the bike racks with ads—Boston decided to go with the company Montreal's public transit agency developed to run its own bike sharing program. Though none of the articles about Boston's system lay out the financing very well, memberships for the program will cost only $40 a year or $2.50 a day, says the Boston Globe.
Less than one percent of Bostonians currently commute by bike, so bike sharing will likely make the city's streets safer for cyclists by putting more bikes on the road. "Bike share will transform Boston into a world-class biking city,’’ said Boston's "bike czar" Nicole Freedman in the Globe.
Here in Portland over the weekend, hundreds of people tried out a Bixi bike-sharing demo at the Waterfront on Friday and SE Sunday Parkways. When I stopped by the bike sharing booth next to Laurelhurst Park on Sunday morning, all but one of the silver step-through bikes were being taken for a spin.
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