Portland has one of the largest “smart” bike shares in the U.S., and soon it might also have one of the most diverse, adding hand-powered cycles, easy-balancing trikes, and tandems to its 1,000-strong fleet.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is developing an adaptive-bike pilot project to supplement its Biketown program, which rents Nike-sponsored bikes with GPS and solar-powered LCD displays. The idea is to serve more riders with disabilities, who have been vocal in lobbying the city for bikes they can comfortably control.
“These customer needs were quite distinct from how conventional bike-share systems operate,” says Steve Hoyt-McBeth, operations manager at PBOT’s Active Transportation and Safety Division. “People wanted a staffed service to help with questions and fitting, they wanted storage for their mobility device, and they were mostly not interested in biking with auto traffic.”
The city plans to partner with existing, private bike-rental shops located near multi-use trails that don’t allow motor vehicles. It might propagate some form of parking stations for wheelchairs and other mobility apparatuses, so riders can store them safely while they chug around town for a few hours. City staffers have consulted with a number of advocacy organizations, as well as interviewed riders with disabilities. The plan is to launch the pilot in June.