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Biketown program ditches pedal-powered bikes under new five-year contract between the city of Portland, Lyft.

COURTESY PHOTO: BIKETOWN - With a reported top speed of 20 miles per hour while pedaling, a new fleet of 1,500 electric bikes will roll out on Portland streets in September. Cyclists can soon get a boost from an electric motor as they zip from downtown Portland to as far away as Northeast 114th Avenue on Biketown, the city's orange-hued bike-share program.

Portland Bureau of Transportation and its corporate partner, the ride-hailing company Lyft, will roll out a new fleet of 1,500 pedal-assist e-bikes across an expanded 32-square-mile service area beginning in September, according to a Thursday, July 16, announcement.

City Hall officially inked another five-year contract with Lyft on July 22. Nike will stay on as the branded sponsor of Biketown for the duration of the contract, which expires in 2025.

"Biketown has become a Portland institution," said Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees PBOT. "With this new contract and sponsorship agreement, we can now bring the benefits of bike-share to more of our fellow Portlanders."

Biketown has provided a stable of big-boned cycles to tourists and locals alike across a 19-square-mile service area since it launched in July 2016. The new electric bikes, with a top speed of 20 mph, will mean the replacement of the traditional pedal-powered orange behemoths.

PBOT envisions the program growing to as many as 3,000 e-bikes across 40 square miles of terrain by 2024, with expansions east toward Gresham, north to St. Johns and into outer southwest Portland. For now, service is being added to areas such as the Jade District and the Lents, Powellhurst-Gilbert and Gateway neighborhoods.

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera says Biketown costs the city of Portland nothing.

COURTESY PBOT - Biketown will now have a 32-square-mile service area, a 13-square-mile increase, when the program revamps next month. "No tax dollars are spent on operations or equipment," Rivera said by email. "The costs of operating the system and all new capital equipment (e-bikes, new stations, etc.) are covered by sponsorship dollars, user fees and Lyft investment."

Rivera didn't respond when asked if the expansion would include new racking stations or if Biketown bikes stop working outside the approved service area. The city does pay for Biketown for All, a program offering discounts for low-income residents, and has a separate contract with Albertina Kerr to provide recumbent trikes for people with disabilities.

BikePortland reports that Biketown prices will be "much higher" after the new roll-out. Members were previously charged a $5 sign-up fee and an additional eight cents a minute — but will now shell out $1 per ride plus 20 cents per minute, the blog reported.


Zane Sparling
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