Portland is one of the great bicycle towns in the United States, and the passionate bike community is famous far beyond the city limits. But what about more casual bikers? Or people who’d just like to get around without using a car or a ride-share? Enter BIKETOWN PDX, Portland’s bike share system. Sponsored by Nike, BIKETOWN has been operating since 2016, and has over 1,000 bikes in circulation and 125 bike stations. BIKETOWN has created notebooks with us for the past two years to help spread the word about BIKETOWN, and share some of the locations of great rides and bike stations across the city. We spoke with Tom Rousculp, marketing manager at BIKETOWN, about what they’re up to and how they use their books.
Can you tell us about Biketown PDX?
BIKETOWN is Portland’s bike share system. It’s owned by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and sponsored by Nike. We (Portland) have 1,000 bikes and 123 stations currently but you can also park at any bike rack in the service area, usually for a small fee but we’re waiving that in May along with making the whole system free to use. BIKETOWN for All is our program for Portlander’s living on a low income and is available to anyone with an Oregon Trail card. It’s just $3/mo. flat, no additional fees ever. Mobility is a major barrier to getting overcoming poverty and we hope B4A can be a helpful piece of the big puzzle. Finally, there’s Adaptive BIKETOWN which is the adaptive bike rental program that PBOT is piloting with Kerr Bike Rental. Adaptive bikes are expensive to buy and maintain. This way a lot of folks that never thought they’d ride a bike again can join friends and family for spin on the waterfront.
What was the inspiration for the books? How do you use them?
We were looking for an item we could hand out at events and to new members that would be useful, not just another throwaway tchotchke. The Scout Books totally win! Then we added a promo code to the inside and a few of our favorite places to visit by bike, ta-da! People love them!
We love that bike-sharing makes it easy to explore Portland, and that the books include some of the best spots around the city. Do you have a favorite bike-friendly location from the book?
I personally like the little secrets in a city. The two I like to share the most are Mill Ends Park and the Bart Simpson sketch Matt Groening did in the sidewalk. I’d love to do a book with just quirky stuff like that, more like a scavenger hunt that would entertain visitors and locals both.
What’s the BIKETOWN Design Challenge?
The BIKETOWN Design Challenge asked local artists and designers to share their neighborhood (N, NE, NW, SE, SW) visually. A panel of judges selected 3 finalists and our members voted for their favorites. Those five designs will be wrapped on 10 BIKETOWN bikes each and rolled out over the summer in their respective communities. It’s been a really fun process and we can’t wait to see all the new designs on the streets!
What else is happening this year with BIKETOWN?
We’re celebrating our 2nd birthday in July!