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Biketown 2.0 is here and the electric bike share era has begun

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Biketown 2.0 is right here and the electrical bike share period has begun

All able to go.
(Photographs: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s a giant day for Portland’s transportation system. Final evening the transportation bureau flipped the swap on a long-awaited Biketown enlargement.

Previous (left) versus new (proper).

The Biketown app is now totally upgraded and 500 electrical bikes are able to be rented and at present unfold over the expanded, 32 square-mile service space. And since Biketown’s operator Inspire Inc. is owned by ride-hailing juggernaut Lyft, the bikes can be rented through the Lyft app (which additionally affords wonderful public transit information).

I grabbed one of many new bikes from a station on Northeast Killingsworth this morning and gave it a check experience.

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 just a few fast questions, and the bike was mine. I additionally like the brand new locks significantly better. It’s a versatile cable as a substitute of a tough steel u-lock.

How does it experience?

I’ve owned an e-bike for some time now, so the added enhance wasn’t a significant revelation. However boy-oh-boy the brand new Biketowns are a lot simpler to experience than the previous ones! The 250 watt motor zipped me alongside effortlessly. I used to be in a position to experience 16-20 mph and felt assured merging with drivers and taking the complete 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 potential.

I don’t suppose folks understand how a lot it adjustments your perspective to experience with a motor. The stability of energy on the road — particularly with posted speeds of 25 mph or decrease — virtually ranges out. Prefer it or not, American street tradition equates would possibly with proper (of approach). And motors give bicycle riders extra would possibly. This provides you a confidence and sense of security that’s exhausting 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 is because the brand new bikes are chain-driven as a substitute of a shaft drive. One factor I didn’t like was how bumpy the experience was. PBOT has the massive Schwalbe Marathon tires pumped approach as much as keep away from flats and prolong the time between air refills, however the draw back of the excessive strain is a jarring experience over any crack or bump.

Different minor adjustments with the brand new bike embrace a shallower step-through body, a way more shallow entrance basket, and a full rear fender. I assumed the previous bikes appeared fairly cool, however the brand new ones look even higher. The design is minimal and all the things is built-in and durable. I got here throughout an previous bike and snapped just a few pictures that will help you examine side-by-side…

As I rode round I began to fret in regards to the battery stage and didn’t see any gauge on the bike to observe it with. Then I found I might view the remaining estimated vary of the battery simply by pulling up the app. One of many issues I’m interested by is how effectively crews are in a position to preserve 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 can carry the full 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 count on 3,000 bikes within the system and a six sq. mile enlargement 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 Trip” plan which expenses $0.20 per minute plus a $1.00 “unlock payment”. This morning I had the bike out for 109 minutes and it value me $22.80. Ouch! (Sure I understand the Single Trip 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 strategy to preserve 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 jonathan@bikeportland.org
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