The Oregonian: Portland State students will get free Biketown rides starting Thursday
Author: Andrew Theen, The Oregonian
Posted: July 12, 2018

Read the original story in The Oregonian.

Beginning Thursday, Portland State University students will be able to ride Biketown bikes for free for up to 90 minutes per day.

The state's second-largest public university announced the arrangement on Wednesday. Biketown is a bike rental organization that's a partnership of the city, Nike and Motivate, the New York-based company that runs bike rental programs in several cities.

PSU and Biketown plan to formally roll out the new program Thursday morning. Students must register through Biketown's platform.

The news comes on the heels of a popular "free" rental month citywide in May, which saw ridership spikes and record-breaking days for the city system. 

Clint Culpepper, the university's transportation program manager, said he'd been discussing making Biketown more accessible for students since the orange bikes debuted in 2016.

As Biketown continued to expand its service area on the eastside and in the Northwest neighborhoods, Portland State saw more value and a chance to step in.

"This is something that they're able to use every day of the week," Culpepper said, "They can use it to run errands from campus or they could try commuting on it. It's kind of limitless."

The university is estimating its costs to subsidize the program could be $45,000, roughly $1.70 per student per year.

The average Biketown user takes a relatively short spin on the two-wheeled behemoths, with most rides going 1.92 miles.

PSU students already had a discounted monthly Biketown package available, but Culpepper said an estimated 200 students were regularly using the service. The campus is also a specially demarcated "free lock zone" where all users can park bikes for free at any rack.

Portland State has roughly 27,000 students.

Offering free rides should encourage more students to sign up for the service, he said.

"We see it as not just a transportation tool but something that will allow students to experience the city in a way that they wouldn't otherwise," he said. Culpepper added that he believes bicycling is good for students' health.