Nonprofit Says West End on Short List for Bikeshare Stations
by Tony Zeli
Last year, bikeshare advocates founded a nonprofit to pursue a bikeshare program in Portland. West End resident Brian Chick is Treasurer of Portland Bike Share. He works with a volunteer board that includes Samantha Herr, the Executive Director of the North American Bikeshare Association. Chick said that the West End is on the short list for a bikeshare station, perhaps as soon as Spring/Summer 2018.
“In the long run, we have at least a couple stations in the West End as it expands over the years,” said Chick.
The organization plans to release up to four stations with up to fifty specially designed bicycles that residents or visitors could rent.
Here is how Portland Bike Share could work:
Perhaps you are a downtown resident who cannot store and maintain your own bicycle. Maybe you have visitors who you would like to ride with. Perhaps you commute by car into Portland, but once downtown you would like a quick and convenient way to zip around the peninsula. Just log-in to the mobile app or online, pay a fee, and unlock a bike from a docking station. The bike itself is trackable with GPS and has security features. When you are finished, return the bike for another rider to enjoy, or perhaps leave it where it is and another rider will pick it up there.
“I’m a bike commuter myself…” said Brian Chick, “so I have a vested interest in seeing this come about.”
He believes that a bikeshare program would be good for all bicyclists and pedestrians. A bikeshare program means more bikes and riders and more advocates. The hope is that bikeshare leads to improved infrastructure and bolsters a share the road culture, thereby making everyone safer.
The program is still a year or more from implementation. In fact, Portland Bike Share is a temporary name. The organization is considering expansions to other communities, first South Portland and eventually other Maine communities. So, they are hosting an online survey for a new name. Choices include DiriGO, Chickadee and We Spoke.
In addition to the name, unknown are the exact technologies to be employed and pricing structures. It is likely the bikes will be the step through style to allow easy access, and will have GPS for tracking. But, what will the docking stations look like, or will there even be docking stations? Will riders need a card or code to access the bikes, and will they be able to use a mobile app?
In Boston, the bikeshare program is called Hubway. It costs $8 for a day pass, $20 monthly or $99 for a year. Though pricing has not been decided in Portland, Brian Chick said the program would be geared for residents first and foremost. And he said that low-income access is important to Portland Bike Share.
Locations are yet to be determined, but the City is supportive. In fact, on the organization’s Board of Advisors are Jeff Levine from the City’s planning office and Bruce Hyman, Transportation Program Manager. The City is not investing any funds directly to the bikeshare program.
Portland Bike Share has announced their first sponsor, a real estate management and development group, North Atlantic Properties. They are seeking additional corporate sponsors, who could receive advertising on the bikes and stations.
To learn more, visit http://portlandbikeshare.org.
Tony is Publisher and Editor.