You may have already heard about Portland’s Biketown which is a new bike-share system that was installed overnight this past Monday to Tuesday. It’s a 5 year partnership between the city and Nike. The system includes 1000+ beautiful, bright orange bikes within 8 square miles. Of course, us physical therapists love it. Not only does it reduce emissions, it gets the city moving! Here are 10 things you should know about this newest installment to our lovely city of Portland.
1. YOU NEED AN ACCOUNT TO USE IT
Create an account from biketownpdx.com or download the Biketown app on your smartphone. There, you’ll get a 10 digit account number and then create a 4 digit pin. If you are feeling less tech-savy, you can purchase a $2 membership card at any Biketown location where you will just need to create a pin.
2. BRING YOUR WALLET
A single 30-minute ride is $2.50 and a day pass is $12. There’s a little caveat, though. If you buy a year membership, it is $12/month to ride 90 minutes/day. It’s $2 if you lock it up at the rack on a break (the bike comes with a lock). Don’t lock the bike outside of the rack. That’s a $20 fine. If you take a bike from a public spot and return it, that’s $1 credited to you.
3. YOU DON’T NEED MORE THAN A HELMET
The bikes are equipped with lights that automatically turn on which is pretty neat! There is even a basket in the front for your goodies and a bell to warn people you're coming through (be nice). Legally, if you are over 16 years old in Oregon, you don’t even need a helmet, but no one really promotes riding on bikes without helmets.
4. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GO FAST ON THESE BIKES
The bikes weigh 45 lbs. Yikes! You’re not going to be speeding around the streets of Portland on these suckers. They are commuter bikes which are great for touring, nice for downhill, and not so nice for uphill.
5. BIKETOWN KIOSKS ARE GOING TO PROVIDE BIKE ROUTE MAPS
These maps will also be available on apps. The advantage? Getting to your route quicker with less chance of getting hit by a car! Google maps and a typical iPhone mapping system has an option for bike routes as well which will automatically choose the most bike-friendly roads. You can ride on non-bike paths, but you want to follow traffic patterns.
6. LEARN THE WAYS OF THE ROAD
To use these bikes, you should have common bike-use knowledge when on the road. These include hand signals. Give drivers a heads up when making turns, holding your arm out straight out to the right or left beforehand. If you are making a right, you can also hold your left arm up in a “high five” position. When on non-bike friendly roads, stay to the right, try to keep up with the speed as best you can, and pay close attention. It’s illegal to have two ear buds in, by the way, so one at a time for music.
7. BIKETOWN HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT AND HELPS YOUR HEART
Did you know that on average, biking burns 400-500 calories an hour for a 130 lb person? Not to mention, it increases your overall cardiovascular endurance. A sedentary lifestyle is actually one of five major risks for heart disease. So, getting on a bike every once in awhile can go a long way.
8. THERE’S A LITTLE DRAMA WITH BIKETOWN
What is something new in Portland or any city for that matter without a little drama? People are mad that the bikes are taking up parking spaces. However, the city says that this isn’t the case with some people claiming only 1/10th of parking is compromised. Others say none.
9. USING A BIKETOWN BIKE WILL KEEP YOU CLEAN
The bikes have shaft drives instead of chains, so your nice pants won’t get dirty. They also have front and rear fenders which are devises that prevent kick up from water and dirt.
10. THE BIKES ARE AN EASY AND QUICK FIT
You don’t need to be a bike guru to fit yourself. The bikes have an adjustable seat with numbers. Find a height that is at hip-level in when standing next to the bike. You should have a slight bend in your knee when the pedal is lowest while sitting on the bike.
Now that you know the basics, you should try it out! Learn more details at www.biketownpdx.com. Just be careful out there on the roads. We don’t want to see you in our clinic from a preventable bike accident :)