Crowded Biketown station on Belmont Street late on launch day
OwnerPortland Bureau of Transportation
LocalePortland, Oregon
Transit typeBicycle-sharing system
Number of stations133
Began operationJuly 19, 2016 (2016-07-19)
Operator(s)Lyft, Inc.[citation needed]
Number of vehicles1,000

Biketown (stylized as BIKETOWN), also known as Biketown PDX, is a bicycle-sharing system in Portland, Oregon, that began operation on July 19, 2016. The system is owned by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and operated by Lyft, with Nike, Inc. as the title sponsor.[1] At launch, the system had 100 stations and 1,000 bicycles serving the city's central and eastside neighborhoods, with hopes to expand outward.


Planning for a modern bicycle-sharing system for Portland began in 2009, under the direction of PBOT.[2] Beginning in 1994, a group of Portlanders experimented with a free community bike sharing system called the "Yellow Bike Project"; the program, inspired by a similar scheme in Amsterdam and operated by the Community Cycling Center, was declared a failure three years later after many of the bikes were subject to vandalism, theft and disrepair.[3][4]

In December 2011, Metro approved the allocation of a $2 million federal grant to PBOT for the development of a bike share system.[5] Alta Bike Share, a national operator of similar systems headquartered in Portland, was contracted in September 2012 to be the system's operator.[6] The $4 million cost of the system and inability to secure a corporate sponsor led to several delays in the planned launch.[7]

In March 2014, selected supplier Bixi declared bankruptcy, forcing another delay in the system's launch to 2015.[8] Planned operator Alta Bike Share would later be sold to Motivate in October.[9]

In September 2015, the Portland City Council approved a new contract with Motivate to move forward on the bikeshare program. Motivate went on to place a $1.5 million order placed with Social Bicycles to manufacture and deliver "smart" bicycles that include on-board computers and other technologies.[10]

In January 2016, Portland-area based Nike signed a $10 million, five-year deal to be the program's sponsor,[11] naming it "Biketown".[12] On June 13, 2016, officials announced various details for the program, including a launch date of July 19.[13] More than 1,000 Portlanders signed up for the first batch of annual memberships by launch day,[14] and almost 2,500 during the first month of the service.[15]

The service launched on July 19, 2016, during a ceremony in which 150 riders took an inaugural ride across the Tilikum Crossing bridge.[16] During the service's first month, almost 59,000 rides were taken.[15] Holders of annual memberships accounted for 36 percent of rides taken during that period.[15]

The placement of Biketown stations that replaced public street parking sparked some controversy over a "lack of outreach" by PBOT.[17]

Service area

Portland residents were surveyed online and invited to five open house discussions to decide the locations of the bike racks. The final locations were based on the 4,500 responses.[18] As of its launch in 2016, Biketown operates 100 stations in 8 square miles (21 km2) of the city.[14][19]

Neighborhoods that are served by Biketown include:

Pricing and fees

Commissioner Steve Novick speaking at Biketown launch event. Other dignitaries in background.
Commissioner Steve Novick speaking at Biketown launch event. Other dignitaries in background.

Biketown operates with three payment options for riders. A single-ride fare of $2.50 includes 30 minutes of riding.[20] A day pass ($12) includes 180 minutes of riding and the ability to rent up to 4 bicycles at a time (at a cost of $6 each).[21] An annual membership of $12 per month includes unlimited rides within a 90-minute daily limit, as well as the 4-bicycle maximum available to day-pass users.[22][23]

Riders making extended trips over their allotted time limit are charged 10 cents per additional minute. A fee of $2 is charged for locking a bicycle at a public rack within the system area; a fee of $20 is charged for the doing the same outside of the system area. A $1 account credit is awarded for bringing a bicycle from a public rack to a designated station.[23]

There is a discount program available for low income participants for $3/month. [24]

A fee of $1,500 is charged for a lost bicycle.[23]

The city's contract with operator Motivate includes provisions to introduce a discount to 500 low-income residents of $35 per year.[25]


Row of bicycles next to the Nike Store in downtown Portland, 2016
Row of bicycles next to the Nike Store in downtown Portland, 2016

Biketown's fleet of 1,000 bicycles were manufactured by Social Bicycles of Brooklyn, New York[10] and designed in part by Nike, at a cost of $1,500 each.[26] The eight-speed bikes weigh 45 pounds (20 kg) and come equipped with automatic lights and a bell; the seat is positioned for upright ridership.[14] Unlike a typical bike share system, Biketown's bicycles do not need to be docked at a designated station, instead using on-board computers with location tracking and U locks; this allows bikes to be stored at public bicycle racks, though users are charged an additional fee.[27] Bikes are rented by customers using a PIN, generated by a smartphone app or computer, or a member card.[28] Biketown is the largest self-secured bike share system in North America.[29]

In June 2016, PBOT announced plans to add "adaptive bikes", such as handcycles and tricycles, that can be rented for people with disabilities. They will be branded as Biketown but will be organized through local adaptive bike shops, rather than at the standard street kiosks.[30][31]

Biketown does not provide helmets for its users, but does offer coupons to purchase one at a store.[32]

The original fleet of Biketown bicycles were retired in September 2020 after their replacement e-bicycles entered service. The remaining 750 bicycles were donated to a bikeshare operator in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.[33]

Related programs

Biketown WHQ

Not part of the Biketown PDX service, but sharing some aspects, is a private bike-sharing program for employees of Nike in the Beaverton area, where Nike's world headquarters is located. As of 2016, the program had already been in place "for years",[34] but was recently renamed Biketown WHQ. The suffix, standing for World Headquarters, is intended to differentiate the program from the public Biketown PDX service in Portland. The City of Portland owns the rights to the "Biketown" name, but gave Nike permission to use it for its program.[34] It has a fleet of 400 bicycles, which company employees can use to go between any of Nike's several Beaverton-area facilities. In 2016, when Nike signed a 10-year sponsorship contract with Portland for the latter's new bike-sharing service, it also purchased for its own service new bicycles of the same design (and color: orange) as used on the Biketown PDX service, from Social Bicycles. However, the Biketown WHQ program is operated by Holy Spokes, a Portland bike shop, rather than by Motivate.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Andrew J . Hawkins (February 16, 2016). "Nike bought Portland a $10 million bike share program". The Verge. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  2. ^ Larabee, Mark (July 4, 2009). "Portland to experiment with rental bike system". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  3. ^ Rose, Joseph (January 21, 2016). "Joseph Rose: Remembering Portland's disastrous Yellow Bike Project". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  4. ^ Ryan, Don (December 9, 1994). "Portland Journal: Where Trust Rides a Yellow Bicycle". The New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  5. ^ Rose, Joseph (December 8, 2011). "Portland's $4 million bike-sharing plan, 10 other regional transportation projects get green light". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  6. ^ Rose, Joseph (September 28, 2012). "Portland picks homegrown Alta Bicycle Share to run bike sharing as firm faces problems in other cities". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  7. ^ Cronin, James (January 7, 2016). "Nike's bike share sponsorship ends years of frustration for Portland planners". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  8. ^ Rose, Joseph (March 3, 2014). "Portland officials 'uncertain' about launch of much-delayed bike share system". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  9. ^ Rose, Joseph (October 28, 2014). "Portland's Alta Bicycle Share sold. What does it mean for city's delayed bike share launch?". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Njus, Elliot (September 24, 2015). "Road test: The good, bad of Portland's new bike-share bicycles". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  11. ^ Angela Natividad (February 16, 2016). "Say Hello to Biketown, Nike's Incredibly Cool Bike-Share Program for Portland, Ore". AdWeek. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  12. ^ Njus, Elliot (January 7, 2016). "Nike to sponsor Portland's bike-share program, call it Biketown". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  13. ^ Njus, Elliot (June 13, 2016). "Biketown bike-share launch date, pricing, station locations announced". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c Njus, Elliot (July 19, 2016). "Biketown bike-share launches today: Five things to know". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c Njus, Elliot (August 26, 2016). "136,000 miles in, Biketown bike-share makes its mark on Portland". The Oregonian. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  16. ^ Njus, Elliot (July 19, 2016). "Biketown bike-share program launches with inaugural Tilikum Crossing ride". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  17. ^ Dowling, Jennifer (July 13, 2016). "Biketown racks not welcome in some neighborhoods". KOIN. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  18. ^ Julia Comnes (July 16, 2016). "The BikeTown Backlash Starts With Handmade Signs From Southeast Portland Malcontents". Willamette Week. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  19. ^ Biketown Station Map (Map). Portland Bureau of Transportation. June 13, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  20. ^ "Single Ride". Biketown. Archived from the original on August 7, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  21. ^ "Day Pass". Biketown. Archived from the original on August 7, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  22. ^ "Pricing". Biketown. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  23. ^ a b c "Annual Membership". Biketown. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  24. ^ "Biketown for all".
  25. ^ Anderson, Jennifer (January 28, 2016). "Portland bike share: Will it reach the poor?". Portland Tribune. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  26. ^ Powell, Meerah (July 19, 2016). "Portland's BIKETOWN Bike Rental Program Launches". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  27. ^ VanderHart, Dirk (September 9, 2015). "Share and Share a Bike". Portland Mercury. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  28. ^ Anderson, Jennifer (June 13, 2016). "Five things to know about BikeTown, set for July 19 launch". Portland Tribune. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  29. ^ Passas, Jennifer (January 29, 2016). "1,000 Nike-Orange Bikes Will Make Portland Even Bike-Friendlier". PSFK. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  30. ^ Andersen, Michael (June 30, 2016). "Portland will offer Biketown-branded cycles for people with disabilities". Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  31. ^ Parks, Casey (June 30, 2016). "Portland's bike-share program will add adaptive bikes". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  32. ^ Budnick, Nick (September 15, 2016). "Lack of helmets a Biketown road bump". Portland Tribune. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  33. ^ Gormley, Shannon (July 12, 2021). "Portland Is Donating Some of Its Disused Biketown Fleet to Canada". Willamette Week. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  34. ^ a b c Njus, Elliot (October 7, 2016) [online date October 6]. "Why do I keep seeing Biketown bikes in Beaverton? (Commuting Q&A)". The Oregonian. p. A6. Retrieved October 11, 2016.