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Bike Share program advances

City Council commits $2 million in federal transportation funds to project, seeks private operator

Portland took another step towards creating a so-called bike share program Wednesday when the City Council approved the release of a Request for Proposals for a private operator.

Sixteen other American cities have already started programs that allow people to easily rent and return bikes at various locations. Among other things, they are intended to encourage people to use bikes for errands or short trips instead of cars - thereby increasing interest in biking.

Bike share will be a great addition to North America's most bike-friendly city,' Mayor Sam Adams said after the vote. 'It's a simple, attractive alternative to making quick trips by car. Bike share systems are popping up all over, from American cities like Washington, D.C., and Denver, to foreign cities. We've waited to see what these cities learned from their own bike share launches and are confident a private sector partner can be successful in Portland.'

The city has received a $2 million federal transportation grant to start the program. Adams says no more public money will be used to start or operate it. Additional private support is expected to be raised through ads and sponsorships. Those who respond to the RFP will be expected to explain their financing plans.

The public will have opportunities to weigh in on proposal before the council votes on the operator. It is expected to up and running by spring 2013.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is overseeing the project and has launched a new Portland Bike Share website at www.pdxbikeshare.com. It includes more information on such programs and has a 'crowd sourcing' tool that allows users to recommend locations for bike share stations using an interactive map and share their points through Facebook and Twitter.

Bike share systems let people check out a bicycle to ride from one point in the city to another for a small fee. In cities across the globe, bike share systems have proven popular and successful by giving residents and visitors a fast, inexpensive and easy transportation option. The project will be funded by a federal grant, along with private sponsorships and user fees.

Having a bike share system in Portland means giving residents and visitors an efficient, sustainable choice. Our region has a comprehensive and safe bikeway network that bike share customers can use to cover short trips quickly. Bike share riders will move throughout the city without adding to road congestion and parking demand, while improving air quality and personal health by forgoing a car trip. Residents, business owners and travelers want bike share to come to Portland for all these reasons.

Portland City Council authorized the release today of a request for proposals to solicit bids from companies interested in installing and operating a large scale bike share system in Portland. The RFP is expected for public release at the end of the week. In December 2011, the Metro Council awarded $2 million in federal transportation funds to pursue Portland Bike Share. Bike share is expected to be operational by spring 2013.

Bike share currently operates in 16 American cities, with another 14 in the planning stage. Bike share cities such as Denver and Minneapolis have seen reductions in drive-alone trips and an increase in bicycling since launching bike share systems.