BIKETOWN, Portland's beloved bike-share system known for its ubiquitous orange bikes, converted to an electric pedal-assist system in September, replacing the original pedal bicycle fleet. As PBOT considered the future of the bicycles remaining from the original BIKETOWN fleet, the bureau focused on finding a way to reuse the bikes, which come with special technology for renting and locking.
Reuse -- rather than recycling or disposal -- can make bicycling accessible for more people and reduce carbon emissions by extending the life of the equipment and avoiding the need to manufacture new bicycles. Bike-share systems use specialized technology and proprietary parts specific to bike-sharing, so thousands of bike-share bicycles have been scrapped worldwide as new technology replaced them. PBOT determined that the best way to extend the life of the original fleet was to donate them to another bike-share system that uses the same technology.
"With this donation, BIKETOWN is making good on our goal to expand access to bicycling," Portland Transportation Director Chris Warner said. "By reusing our equipment, these bikes will keep serving the public and providing a sustainable transportation option. I am glad that PBOT staff have created partnerships with other communities that are eager to make bicycling more accessible to more people through bike sharing. Portlanders should be proud that BIKETOWN is able to help other communities in this way, and I hope this kind of creative reuse of bike-share technology becomes the standard across the nation."
On Wednesday, the Portland City Council is expected to consider an agreement to donate about 625 BIKETOWN bicycles to the City of Hamilton, where a nonprofit organization called Hamilton Bike Share operates the public bike-share system.
The Hamilton City Council voted to approve the donation on Friday. If the Portland City Council approves on Wednesday, the bikes will be delivered to Hamilton this summer.
Also this summer, Director Warner plans to authorize the donation of 100 bikes to the City of Bend, which plans to use the fleet to re-start a bike share system in the high-desert hub of active living. The donation does not require Portland City Council approval.
The new program in Bend will be operated in partnership with Cascadia Mobility Inc, a new nonprofit with a mission to develop an interoperable network of equitable shared transportation programs in small- to mid-sized Oregon communities. In April, Cascadia Mobility and its nonprofit fiscal sponsor Forth assumed operations of PeaceHealth Rides in Eugene. Eugene's PeaceHealth Rides program and the donated fleet of BIKETOWN bikes both function on the same software platform, making interoperability between Bend and Eugene possible.
Well managed bike-share systems increase affordable transportation options for community members who need them most. People on low incomes and people with disabilities are especially likely to benefit from bike-share programs because driving a vehicle may not be accessible for them. Hamilton Bike Share operates the Everyone Rides Initiative which is focused on increasing access with rider subsidies, education, and outreach in the bike-share program.
Bend, meanwhile, hopes to reintroduce bike-share as a small central pilot, serving downtown, the Old Mill District, and the OSU-Cascades campus. Bike-share service previously ended in Bend in 2020. Bend and Cascadia Mobility have ambitions to expand the program to serve more communities on the east side, and to extend the reach of the city's transit system.
About 750 bicycles are remaining from the original BIKETOWN fleet of 1,000 bicycles. The other 250 are not in usable condition. The new owners will change the branding and other characteristics to match the systems in Hamilton and Bend.
BIKETOWN’s 2020 expansion and new electric pedal-assist bike fleet were made possible in large part due to the extension of the sponsorship agreement with its founding partner. Nike increased its BIKETOWN sponsorship with PBOT by more than $8 million through September 2025 — building on the initial $10 million sponsorship for the system’s first five years of operation.
Launched in July 2016, the original BIKETOWN system made 1,000 bikes available for short-term rentals. By the original system’s last day on September 7, 2021 Portlanders and visitors had logged 1.3 million trips on the iconic orange bicycles. On September 8, 2020 BIKETOWN re-launched with 1,500 electric pedal assist bicycles. While the start of the pandemic caused a drop in ridership, it has been rising steadily, with riders logging more than 200,000 trips through July 8 on the new all-electric fleet.
BIKETOWN is Portland’s bikeshare system, launched on July 19, 2016 with 1,000 bikes available to ride from one point to another for a small fee. BIKETOWN is now composed of 1,500 electric pedal-assist bicycles serving a 32 square mile service area, including portions of East Portland. BIKETOWN is a partnership between the City of Portland’s Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and NIKE, the program’s sole title sponsor. BIKETOWN is operated by Lyft, the world’s leading bikeshare operator. It uses innovative new “smart bikes” which make it easy to find, rent, and park a BIKETOWN bike. BIKETOWN is designed to be affordable and accessible, encouraging even more Portlanders to ride and allowing visitors to experience the city by bike. Portland joins over 60 U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Antonio, Indianapolis, Boise, and Austin and another 500 cities worldwide that have popular, safe, and successful bikeshare systems. biketownpdx.com
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the city’s transportation system and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage, and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. portland.gov/transportation
About NIKE, Inc.
NIKE, Inc., based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer, and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly-owned subsidiary brand Converse designs, markets, and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories. For more information, NIKE, Inc.’s earnings releases, and other financial information are available at investors.nike.com. Individuals can also visit news.nike.com or follow @NIKE on social media.
Lyft was founded in 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation, and is available to 95 percent of the United States population as well as select cities in Canada. Lyft is committed to effecting positive change for our cities and making cities more livable for everyone through initiatives that bridge transportation gaps, and by promoting transportation equity through shared rides, bikeshare systems, electric scooters, and public transit partnerships. Lyft