Portland's BIKETOWN only third bike share to offer cash membership for low income riders

(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Though it took several years to bring a bike share program to Portland, BIKETOWN is only the third bike share system in the country to now offer cash memberships for low income riders.

To set up an account or even use a bike once, riders had to use a credit or debit card as payment, leaving out many low income residents who don't have bank cards.

With the "BIKETOWN for All" project announced Thursday, 500 Portland residents who are living on low incomes and are affiliated with participating housing, social service and community organizations can sign up for a BIKETOWN monthly membership for $3, payable in cash.

"We want to make these bikes available to everyone regardless of your income," Dylan Rivera with PBOT said. "They can go farther, get more exercise and get where they need to go conveniently with bike town than they did walking or using any public transit."

The program was piloted with residents from the Alder House Apartments.

BIKETOWN worked with the Community Cycling Center, the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Better Bike Share Partnership to create the program. The CCC will work with housing, social service and nonprofit organizations to promote the bike share with their residents or clients.

"I was low income once in my life and I've always been thankful something was there when I needed it," Mark Bennett, a cyclist, said.

The program is funded in part by a grant from the Better Bike Share Partnership. Motivate, the bike share operator, is donating $54,000 for the program.

If you think you qualify for BIKETOWN for All, you can contact a supervisor at your subsidized housing unit, Oregon Trail Card or other services to become a member. Workshops will be available for those who need to learn the basic bike share system and skills for riding a bike in the city. Free helmets will also be available.

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