Portland, The City that Works, Cancels Contract Review for Rental Bikes

Let me get this straight. Portland has been working for eight months to identify a provider for a rental fleet of 500 bicycles. The bikes could be rented from kiosks, ridden where the rider wanted to go, and returned to another kiosk. What could be simpler? We already have the bike lanes, a relatively bike-friendly city, and a relatively bike-friendly populace.

But, the City that Works isn’t working. The kinks, whatever they are, must be worked out. Shoshanah Oppenheim, City Commissioner Sam Adams’ liaison for transportation issues, said, “We want to avoid as many pitfalls as possible.”

So, after only 8 months of thinking about this, the City that Works is confused. How could we pay for this program? Where would all the kiosks be located? Would they be self-serve kiosks? Would the bikes get stolen? Oh dear — so many questions and so few answers.

Here are the facts:

Paris has 20,600 bicycles and 1,450 kiosks installed in its Velib bike rental system. 130,000 people use them every single day.

How can this possibly be? Aren’t there kinks to be worked out? Logistics to pore over? Pricing plans to consider? Theft issues? Kiosk location issues? Traffic pattern concerns? Safety? Oh me, oh my!

Goodness — this is way too complicated to actually put into place. Let’s cancel all the bids, shelve the whole idea, discuss the pros and cons from time to time, rethink all our thinking, pose some “what ifs”, put things on the back burner, spend some more taxpayer dollars determining that we can’t possibly do what Paris has done (I mean, who could?) and, after a couple hundred thousand dollars or more, simply CALL IT QUITS.

I just love the City that Works!

  • Crawdude

    This was a loser idea to begin with, we aren’t Paris. It may or may not work there, its a socialized government and would never release accurate costs for anything. Socialist governments thrive on lies.

    Since we want to be like Paris, do we also want to have weeks of car burning and riots? Or maybe during the next heatwaves our self indulgent kids can go on vacation and leave thoughsands of eldery to die in the heat. Things like that happen in 3rd world countries, do we want to be like them?

    The Bike plan was a joke, Paris is a joke, heck, the whole of Europe is a joke. Though when the Muslims take complete control, humor won’t be allowed……its an afront to allah.

    • game sink

      Riots? Heat waves? What are you talking about? Apparently you don’t understand the concept of borrowing good ideas.

      • CRAWDUDE

        The bikes aren’t a good idea, why borrow failure. When Paris produces a cost benefit analysis on their bikes that can be confirmed accurate, I’ll be a little more interested.

  • Bob Clark

    Why not give some bicycle shops some business tax breaks in exchange for promoting bicycle rentals from their shops? I like the idea of bicycle rentals. When I visited Palm Springs two Februarys ago, my wife and I rented bicycles from a vendor who dropped the bikes off at our motel. It was great fun. Maybe give hotels/motels a break on their taxes if they provide bike rentals.

    • Crawdude

      Bob, I think it would be awesome, except for the mass amounts of bums, tweakers and criminals who are allowed stalk the downtown streets.

      Unfortunately, the unsuspecting visitors to this city wouldn’t be cautious enough understand the precautions they need to take to keep the bikes from being stolen.

      What about any injuries that may occur, will insurance policies be available to renters e.g. car and boat rentals. If so, would the cost make renting the bike out of the question? Heck, the Max stations are lucky to have 4 bike lockers or at least I’ve never seen more than that.

      Great idea, not in this town though.

  • dean

    Jerry….how long did Paris take to plan its system in order to avoid “as many pitfalls as possible?” And isn’t it better to spend the extra time planning to get it right so that it succeeds?

    CD…what’s a “tweaker?”

    • cc

      All the “planning” in the world won’t make a stupid idea smart. That’s the 360 degree blind spot of “planners”. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you’re a tweaker, Damascus looks like heaven – all those 5 acres lots to cook on, without nosy neighbors 20 feet away.

      What a pseudo-hick!


      Dean, a tweaker is a meth addict. They can usually be recognized, due to there emaciated appearance, rotten black teeth from inhaling the toxins the meth is made from.

      Also, most hard core users will have pock marks on their faces and open sore about their bodies. This comes from handling the toxic chemicals in the meth and then touching thie faces and bodies. Many of the sores come from malnutrition since tweakers typically don’t eat while speeding their brains out for weeks at a time.

      • dean

        Eeeiiiuuww. Thanks for sharing.

  • Bob Clark

    Crawdude, you are right about the harrassment factor in and around downtown Portland. Whenever I’ve ridden the Max on weekends, you’ll see these unassuming tourists mixed with folks sporting hoods and talking dope or panhandling. Maybe the cost of bike rental will deter any misuse of the bicycles by the panhandler/drug crew.

    I think this bike promotion thing has been tried once before with cityhall making free “yellow” bikes available around the city. Maybe the bikes didn’t come back after awhile or were melted down for the scrap metal.

    I sure like bicycles as a means of transport more than the building of new street cars. They’re a lot cheaper, and you can actually go faster than the slow, fixed in place streetcars. Moreover, the panhandler/drug crew like traveling by train to what were once safe neighborhoods whereas they don’t like having actually work to get somewhere via bike. Also, you don’t get high rise future ghettos built alongside the streetcar tracks. Bikes and cars(make’m electric if it pleases you) yes. Steetcars, yuck.

    • dean

      Bob…we share an affiliation for cycling over streetcars. I have also found I can walk faster than the 11th street version, factoring in wait time. On the other hand, a lot of people seem to be packed into those cars, so different strokes.

      As I recall, the yellow bike project was a strictly volunteer, private sector effort. It failed when the bikes got stolen or wrecked faster than they could be replaced.

      Surprisingly, a number of homeless andother poor people do use bicycles. We have had one in my rural neighborhood for years. He cycles along the roads collecting the bottles and cans, rides them into town for the deposit, and rides back to wherever his camp is at the moment.

      For cc…part of what I assume the city is doing is “business planning” with respect to this program. This is how one tests how smart or stupid an idea is before one spends capital. The first year private sector business failure rate is about 80%, largely due to lack of planning, over estimating the market, or underestimating capital requirements.

      Also…Damascus has very few 5 acre lots. It has a large number of 1-2 acre lots (70% of our total,) some 5s and 10s, and diminishing numbers of 20s-100s. We also have a fair number of homes on the 1-2s for sale right now at cut rate prices, some well below what a typical Portland townhouse or condo goes for.

      • cc

        Shocking as this must be for you, no one, least of all me, cares about your assumptions. Everyone, especially me, is beyond amused at your penchant for straying off-subject with your feigned thick-headedness.

        The failure rate of private businesses is wholly immaterial to the discussion here. Private businesses don’t gamble with taxpayer money (yes, I know, there are bailouts, subsidies, etc.). The point, elusive as it seems to be to you, is that Portland’s city government is ill-equipped to make ANY intelligent judgements about money matters.

        Wi-Fi, anyone?

        For those benighted souls who don’t know what that is, join the club of citgov idiots that spent a ton of money on that fiasco.

        “Surprisingly, a number of homeless andother poor people do use bicycles. We have had one in my rural neighborhood for years.”

        dean, dean, dean…

        Oh, well, I suppose ONE is a number…

        • dean

          Shocking as this may be to you, many small businesses fail on guarenteed taxpayer supported loans from the SBA. So taxpayers do bail out banks that loan to private enterprise.

  • Terry Parker

    “How could we pay for this program?”

    Simple, the users who rent the bicycles pay for the entire program, including the costs for the bikes, the kiosks and for any permits and/or rent charged for spaces where the kiosks are located. This concept must not become yet another taxpayer subsidized entitlement program that allows bicyclists to freeload.

  • Eddie

    I say give it up… You know why people ride the streetcar, instead of walking which is often faster? For the same reason we ride the horse-trolley at Disneyland, it’s fun! What we need to do is embrace Portland-as-Theme-Park and just build rides.

    I think a log-flume down the 5, and a rollercoaster that stops up and down the waterfront would be a good start.

    Of course, Pioneer Square could easily be transformed into a Haunted House, just squirt some fake blood on the people hanging out there already and you’re halfway there.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Its a bicycle.

    Does anyone here understand that?

    How about this new and novel idea? If you want a bicycle, buy one.

    If you are in town and want to rent one, go to a damn store and rent it.

    If there aren’t any stores that rent bicycles, then maybe there simply isn’t the market to support it. The idea that city planners have a better handle on the market for bicycle rentals than the stores that deal in them is simply inane.

    When did the phrase “if you cannot afford a bicycle, one will be appointed for you at no charge to you” become part of the Miranda litany?

    “Oh but hey man, some people cant afford a bicycle, don’t they have the same right to get around and share the space on this planet we lovingly call earth, or Gaia, and at the same time try and save it?”

    Listen, did it ever occur to anyone that some idiot who cant afford a bicycle, is probably the first guy that’s going to start ripping them off from these kiosks?

    Oh, and what about safety? I mean we all know the bicycle fetishists and the helmet uterine brigades joined forces a long time ago. You think someone will be just walking down the street who has a helmet but no bike? Oh, ok, well, then I guess we will also have to have helmet kiosks as well.

    Look, someone should just walk into whatever little room these Guatemala draw string pants vest clad stringy grey pony tail bald guys are meeting in and just slap em.

    “Oh but hey man, we are just trying to find solutions, I mean bikes cut down one greenhouse gasses and are more eco friendly”

    Slap – “OK, schools, cops, roads, fire, that’s it, got it nitwit?”

    “Hey, we are just trying to find solutions, what’s your problem”

    Slap – “You aren’t listening”

    “Schools” slap

    “Cops” slap

    “Roads” slap

    “Fire” slap

    “you think you got it now?”

    “Hey man, I think we are fully capable of doing things in parallel, we are trying to act locally and be global and save the planet”

    “Oh yeah? Really? Well, I’m just trying to save my wallet. How about that? And you know what else? Considering the number of nitwits like you who think its your business to take every dollar from people like me who have the unique skill of being able to wake up in the morning, and give it to those who want to hang out and listen to Bob Marley all day rather than work, I think I have the harder job.”

    Believe me, nitwits isn’t the word I would use real life.

    Its a bicycle, not a halo, got that?

    • Jerry

      In this case, I would say the gross ineptitude of city government has spared us all. These people can’t do anything. It is sad, but true. Not one of them could run a private enterprise successfully. Not one.