It’s an enormous day for Portland’s transportation system. Final night time the transportation bureau flipped the change on a long-awaited Biketown growth.
The Biketown app is now absolutely upgraded and 500 electrical bikes are able to be rented and at the moment unfold over the expanded, 32 square-mile service space. And since Biketown’s operator Encourage Inc. is owned by ride-hailing juggernaut Lyft, the bikes will also be rented through the Lyft app (which additionally gives glorious public transit data).
I grabbed one of many new bikes from a station on Northeast Killingsworth this morning and gave it a take a look at journey.
The primary large improve I observed was that the bikes not depend on a clunky, unreliable keypad. With the app open on my telephone all I needed to do was scan the QR code, reply a number of fast questions, and the bike was mine. I additionally like the brand new locks significantly better. It’s a versatile cable as an alternative of a tough metallic u-lock.
How does it journey?
I’ve owned an e-bike for some time now, so the added increase wasn’t a serious revelation. However boy-oh-boy the brand new Biketowns are a lot simpler to journey than the previous ones! The 250 watt motor zipped me alongside effortlessly. I used to be in a position to journey 16-20 mph and felt assured merging with drivers and taking the total lane on residential streets. And I barely observed the hills. I pedaled the uphill on SW Broadway from Burnside to Portland State College and simply hit all of the inexperienced lights. No heavy respiration and no sweat. That’s what these bikes make attainable.
I don’t suppose individuals understand how a lot it adjustments your perspective to journey with a motor. The steadiness of energy on the road — particularly with posted speeds of 25 mph or decrease — virtually ranges out. Prefer it or not, American highway tradition equates may with proper (of means). And motors give bicycle riders extra may. This offers you a confidence and sense of security that’s onerous to clarify till you’ve skilled it.
I additionally like how the brand new bikes are quieter than the previous ones — even with the slight hum of the motor. It’s because the brand new bikes are chain-driven as an alternative of a shaft drive. One factor I didn’t like was how bumpy the journey was. PBOT has the big Schwalbe Marathon tires pumped means as much as keep away from flats and prolong the time between air refills, however the draw back of the excessive stress is a jarring journey over any crack or bump.
Different minor adjustments with the brand new bike embody a shallower step-through body, a way more shallow entrance basket, and a full rear fender. I believed the previous bikes seemed fairly cool, however the brand new ones look even higher. The design is minimal and every little thing is built-in and durable. I got here throughout an previous bike and snapped a number of photographs that will help you examine side-by-side…
As I rode round I began to fret concerning the battery stage and didn’t see any gauge on the bike to observe it with. Then I found I may view the remaining estimated vary of the battery simply by pulling up the app. One of many issues I’m interested in is how effectively crews are in a position to maintain batteries charged always since I didn’t see any stations with built-in charging functionality.
PBOT says they plan so as to add 1,000 extra bikes to the fleet within the coming weeks. That may convey the overall variety of bikes to 1,500 — in comparison with the 1,000 we had with the previous system. And by 2024 PBOT says we are able to anticipate 3,000 bikes within the system and a six sq. mile growth of the service space.
As I reported again in July, the price of using this new system has gone up. I haven’t gotten an annual membership but so I used to be on the “Single Experience” plan which prices $0.20 per minute plus a $1.00 “unlock payment”. This morning I had the bike out for 109 minutes and it price me $22.80. Ouch! (Sure I understand the Single Experience plan is supposed for fast journeys, so it’s partly my fault.) The Annual Membership plan is $99 plus $0.10 per minute and will get you free unlocks. Type of a bummer that there are not any extra free minutes; however PBOT says there was simply no option to maintain prices low whereas additionally upgrading the bikes and increasing the service space.
Have you ever tried out the brand new bikes but? Please share your experiences with us.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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