View Full Version : Nike to sponsor Portland bikeshare; Baltimore bikeshare plans

01-25-2016, 11:38 AM
Portland is frequently named as one of the top cycling cities in the U.S., but they don't have bikeshare. They are finally expected to join the bikeshare movement in July this year. The City Council approved a 600-bike system back in September. Now Nike has agreed to pay $10 million over five years to sponsor the system. The program will start off with about 1,000 bikes because of the Nike sponsorship.

The system will be called "Biketown." The bikes will be painted orange and include the Nike swoosh logo. Motivate will operate the program on behalf of Portland. Motivate also operates Capital Bikeshare, Citi Bike NYC and many other bikeshare programs. However, Portland will be using bikes from Social Bicycles (SoBi), not the Bixi-style bikes and stations that CaBi, Citi Bike NYC and other areas do. The SoBi bikes have locks and communications devices on the bikes.

I've read about pros and cons with that different type of bikeshare. Sometimes it's called "4th generation bikeshare" but there are other definitions of that term too. The fact that the bikes have locks means that they can be locked up anywhere. The user doesn't need to bring it back to a specific station or location. However, that can be a con too. If the bikes can be locked up anywhere, then a user may not know where to go to find bikes. Even if the bikes can be tracked on a website or mobile app, will there be many bikes available in high-demand areas? I know that Bixi-style systems have similar problems with peak demand hours (empty or full stations). But some studies have shown that if you wait at an empty (but busy) station during peak hours, someone will usually check in a bike within 10-15 minutes. With a system that has no stations, you may never know where another user will finish a current bike trip.

Some of the other "4G" systems have a limited number of "stations," which are really more like a set of standard bike hitch racks with no locks or docking mechanisms. But those are limited in number. Most of the bikes would be parked throughout the area.

I've never tried or looked closely at any of these station-less bikeshare programs, so I don't know how well they work or don't work in practice. I believe College Park is starting up such a system this year, in partnership with Zagster. Earlier reports said they might start up during the new semester. (I think the Spring Semester was supposed to start today, but the university is closed today and tomorrow because of the snow clean-up process.) No updates since September.


The Nike HQ is located just outside Portland.


Baltimore is also trying to start their own bikeshare program, again. They have announced plans a few times in the past but nothing ever happened. The latest push involved bids from three serious operators and three "non-responsive" bids. Motivate submitted the lowest bid by far, compared to Zagster and Bewegen Technologies of Canada. (The non-responsive bids were not opened. Maybe they were from start-ups that have never actually operated a bikeshare system?) The city scoring system considers cost but also the services provided by the vendor. The last update was in October 2015. I haven't read whether Motivate won the final vote, or if any decisions have been made at all. The October article on Baltimore Brew says Baltimore "could" have a small system in place by this fall. But other dates have been announced in the past without any progress on an actual bikeshare system.

Since Nike has taken an interest in Portland bikeshare, what about another large athletic apparel company for Baltimore? Under Armour is now a multi-billion dollar company. They are based in Baltimore with plans to build a new headquarters in Baltimore along with a related redevelopment of an industrial area to the south of the Inner Harbor. The founder, Kevin Plank, has ties to both DC and Baltimore. (The company started up in the basement of the Georgetown townhouse of Plank's grandmother. Plank attended high schools in the DC Maryland suburbs and DC itself, and later the University of Maryland.)

Under Armour doesn't sell much cycling-specific gear but bikeshare has little to do with performance cycling. It has more to do with general recreation and basic fitness, as well as transportation. Some of the UA run clothing in particular can be useful for cyclists (winter tights, base layer shirts, zip-ups, windbreakers, compression shirts, gloves and hats). Bikeshare systems have also become prominent in major cities. A bikeshare sponsorship might be beneficial for Under Armour. If they did sign a deal, that could help ensure that Baltimore bikeshare actually gets started this time around.


01-25-2016, 11:50 AM
I just found this article, dated Jan. 10, 2016:


Kevin Plank's real estate team unveiled their plans for Port Covington in South Baltimore a couple weeks ago. The 266-acre location would be converted into a modern mixed-use development, including the new Under Armour headquarters along with other offices, residential, retail, restaurants, hotels, entertainment, parks and promenades. New mass transit connections would be added (possibly light rail and bus) and four bikeshare stations.

Their team does not own all of the land in that area, but they own a lot of it.

I'm not familiar with Port Covington. Online commenters say that it's an "industrial wasteland" while others say that it was remediated but it remains an unpleasant location to bike, run or walk. From what I've read, it seems like a good idea. It would bring economic development to Baltimore, open up more waterfront areas for public use and expand light rail and promote bikeshare.

Is anyone here familiar with Port Covington, or with any updates on Baltimore bikeshare plans?