PORTLAND, Maine — Portland is planning a new bike-share program, which is expected to launch in June or July of 2022.
Keli Hoyt-Rupert, CEO of Michigan-based 'Tandem Mobility,' said the company plans to deploy 200 bikes around Portland's peninsula — 150 pedal bikes and 50 electronic or "e-bikes."
Hoyt-Rupert walked folks through the process Wednesday, explaining, "Say I'm a rider. I walk up to a station. I scan the QR code, which is located on the bike, then you put in your information, hit 'start ride,' and the bike is unlocked."
You can make stops along the way, but when you're done with the bike, you must dock it again to end the transaction.
The cost? It's $1 to unlock a bike. Then it's $0.15 per minute for a pedal bike and $0.25 per minute for an electronic bike. That works out to about $9 per hour and $15 per hour respectively.
Still, to stay profitable, Hoty Rupert said the company needs to find money from elsewhere.
"What we've learned is that ridership fees alone cannot support a bike-share system, so it needs subsidy," she said. "Sometimes that subsidy comes from grants, city funding, and/or sponsorship."
Tandem Mobility is currently looking for sponsors. The title sponsor will get to name the bike system in Portland.
City officials said Portland is a good fit for a bike share for several reasons.
Director of Planning and Urban Development Christine Grimando said, "I think it's good from a health perspective. I think it's good from a transportation perspective. I think it's good from an equity perspective. It's potentially really affordable transportation."
However, there are already a handful of local bike rental services in the city, like Portland Encyclepedia. Owner Norman Patry said this new bike share system will inevitably hurt small businesses like his.
"It's going to impact our business. There's no doubt about it," Patry said. "People might walk out of their hotel and find a dock share bike is easier than making their way to our location."
Patry sees e-bikes as presenting a learning curve for riders.
"There are some people who think you don't have to be a skilled rider to ride an e-bike," Patry said. "If there are a lot of people riding e-bikes in heavily trafficked areas, we're going to see more accidents involving cars and bikes and pedestrians and things like that."
Bike-share systems haven't been successful in all cities, but Tandem said it is ready to meet the potential challenges of damaged and stolen bikes, first and foremost, by hiring a local team.
Hoyt-Rupert said, "There will be a mix of full-time and part-time employees that will be based in Portland and doing routine maintenance on the bikes. They're touching bikes daily to make sure they're in the right place, that they're locked at stations, that they're not in the right-of-way."
The bike system will be seasonal, with the bikes being removed and stored through the winter.