How to get started
Create an account on their website. Get an annual membership if you can afford the price. It’s currently $99 for a year that includes 90 minutes of free rides a day (XX cents a minute after that). There are often $20 discounts running, so keep an eye out for those! If you have a lower income, there are subsidies available.
The other great benefit to an annual membership is that you can park your bike anywhere within the Biketown.
Create a PIN. Create a PIN that only includes two numbers. This slightly horrifies me since I spend a fair bit of time thinking about security. But the keypads on the orange bikes are the most challenging part of Biketown, and you only want to have to hit the keys a minimal amount. Additionally, the worst that will happen is that someone will steal your account number and go for a joyride on your account. You’ll get a notice on your phone and you can shut down that poor person from any further rides.
I suggest the pattern of one unique digit and then picking a second unique digit for the second through fourth position in your PIN. You may end up with a bike that doesn’t like one of the numbers you picked, but you’d have that issue whether you used that number once or three times.
- Note: the keypads are getting replaced (yay!), but as of October 2018, still need to be fully swapped out. If these keypads work better, consider switching your PIN to a more random number.
Install the app on your phone if you haven’t already.
Get an account card. You want to get an account card so that you don’t have to wrestle with the keypads on the bikes to enter your account number. Stations that have the little wireless icon goober will let you print out a plastic id card:
Ready to ride: handkerchiefs, helmets and safety notes
How to find a Biketown bike
Checking out a bike
- Make sure the bike has air in its tires.
- Hit some keypad numbers to wake up the bike, but I’m not sure that is actually needed.
- Hold your Biketown card patiently over the keypad (sometimes 10-20 seconds) until the keypad asks for your PIN.
- Adjust the seat if necessary.
When shifting, don’t pedal. Totally backwards from what a lot of us learned to do, but the poor gears grind out terribly if you are pedaling hard when shifting.
Don’t ride on the sidewalk downtown. Yield to pedestrians when riding on the sidewalk outside of downtown.
Do it three times before giving up on Biketown.
Also, these bikes are much, much heavier than any bicycle I have previously owned. This is great for riding smoothly, but can be an unexpected challenge on hills or if your parking efforts.
A few other observations
- We have adaptive bikeshare!
- Biketown for All: discounted memberships for Portlanders living on low incomes.