BikeShare Program Could Come to Portland Under Right Circumstances Say Experts

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,415)

A  three year old phenomenon is sweeping the country and under the right circumstances, it could come to Portland as well.  So said, two representatives of a company hired by the EPA to present the BikeShare Program to the public at a meeting late this afternoon at city hall.

ALTA representatives were hired by the EPA to conduct a two day workshop in Portland to determine whether or not Portland has the necessary interest to become a site for this innovative bikeshare program. The two representatives met with city officials today, conducted a public forum and tomorrow will meet with potential stakeholders in such a venture. Their recommendation to the city will depend on public as well as stakeholder input. (Some of the stakedholers include: Bicycle Coaltion of Maine, Metro, Down Easter, city staff and city councilor David Marshall.)  The team from ALTA will prepare a report on their findings to be forwarded to the city in the near future.

In his introductory remarks, Jeff Levine, Director of the city’s planning office said that Portland is a good place for this program for a number of reasons including its density.  “Lots of the pieces are in place.  We’d have to figure out how to pay for it and determine whether or not people want it.  We’d also have to find a business model to follow.” Levine was involved in the expansion of a bikeshare program in Boston to area suburbs before coming to Portland last year.

The bikes are heavier than normal and can go no more than ten miles an hour to ensure public safety.  The number of bikestations within a given area need to be determined, the number of bikes at each station and their locations.  Are bikes to be put in tourist areas or in low-income areas to help provide exercise where it otherwise may be limited?    Who will administer the program? A city office or a private or public/private partnership?  Could a non-profit run the program?   These are a few of the many questions brought up at the city hall meeting requiring answers.

The three year old Washington, D.C. bikeshare program is the largest program in the country.  It has 175 bikestations with over 4,000.000 riders to date. Tourists are a large part of the District’s patrons. A moderate climate and long tourist season adds to the program’s success.

Bruce Hyman, the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator said following the meeting:  “Certainly as the EPA team outlined, Portland has a good opportunity to create a successful bikeshare program, but we need to be very deliberate about the challenges as well as the opportunities.”

“We’d have to be really creative to pull this off,” said Levine.  “Really, really creative,” he said grinning.

Please see Post # 1,412, dated 5/5/13 herein.