Portland’s bike share program BIKETOWN turned one this month. On the heels of its one-year anniversary, the Portland Bureau of Transportation launched Adaptive BIKETOWN, a bike rental service for people with varying abilities.
It's the first city-sponsored program of its kind in the nation.
The agency shaped this pilot program over the course of a year with input from community partners, accessibility advocates and people with a range of mobility needs.
“Portland is already known across the country as a destination for bicycling, and I am proud that we will now be a cycling destination for people of all abilities,” said Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman on July 21 at the launch party.
“As a parent of a child who experiences mobility challenges and a disability advocate, I can't tell you how much it means to me, to individuals with disabilities, their families, and their care providers that the city has shown this commitment to decreasing barriers and increasing access and participation,” added Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
PBOT provided $30,000 in funding for Adaptive BIKETOWN’s upfront program costs, including $14,000 to purchase 10 bicycles. Nike contributed another $10,000 for ongoing costs.
The program’s partnership with Albertina Kerr, which owns Kerr Bikes, makes Adaptive BIKETOWN distinct from the city’s self-service bike share program:
–Kerr Bikes’ OMSI location along the Eastbank Esplanade is the rental hub for a mix of tandem bikes, hand cycles and foot-powered trikes for one to three hours (bike helmet included).
–Staff will fit first-time renters to their bikes, and save those measurements for future rentals.
–Kerr Bikes will store mobility devices and crate service animals during the rental time.
The rental service costs $5 per hour or three hours for $12 for people with disabilities, seniors and anyone who qualifies for a TriMet honored citizen pass.
Throughout this summer and fall, riders may enjoy bike rides along the Tilikum Crossing, Waterfront and Sellwood Bridge loops.
In the winter, PBOT staff will evaluate the program and make any changes to improve it for next year’s season.
“We know we're not going to get everything right at the start,” Saltzman said. “And we want you to tell us how to make it better for your experience.”
“You know, my firm belief is that cycles empower people with disabilities,” said Jeremy Robbins, who sits on PBOT’s Adaptive Bicycle Pilot Project Work Group. “I know that, in my community, this is the case.”
Robbins broke his neck nearly 20 years ago. He didn’t let his permanent injury stop him from cycling. Within a few years of his injury, Robbins was riding around town again. This time on a hand-powered bike.
Robbins hopes people will take advantage of Adaptive BIKETOWN, play in their city and make memories with family and friends.
“We really believe this will be transformative for people with disabilities in this community,” said Jeff Carr, CEO of Albertina Kerr. “It really gives all of us an opportunity to live out our values as Oregonians.”
Check out Adaptive BIKETOWN's website for more details on how the program works.
Read PBOT's Frequently Asked Questions about Adaptive BIKETOWN.