Portland's Alta rides bike-sharing wave
By Wendy Culverwell
Real Estate Daily editor
Alta Bicycle Share's president Mia Birk is leading her companies charge to be the nation's undisputed leader in bicycle share programs — and she hopes it will result in manufacturing jobs for Portland.
The Portland bike world is over the moon since the city of New York tapped a local firm to operate its ambitious bike share program.
New York City selected Alta Bicycle Share Inc., an affiliate of Portland-based Alta Planning & Design, and its Canadian partner, Bixi, to establish a $50 million, 600-station, 10,000-bike share program by 2012.
The New York decision confirms that Portland is a major a center for bicycle-related planning.
“It’s really validating what they’re doing here,” said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “And from a financial perspective, it’s fantastic.”
More important, he said New York’s foray into public bicycle sharing gooses a movement gaining acceptance across the U.S.
The city of Portland has identified potential funding sources for a program of its own and is expected to solicit bids from operators within a few years.
Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, are also visiting the subject. Alta will or has bid on them all.
Todd Roll, who owns Portland’s Pedal Bicycle Tours, was thrilled to see a Portland-based firm land the opportunity to bring bike sharing to New York.
“It’s more than good news. It’s natural,” he said.
Gaining a foothold in New York won’t be easy.
Alta and Bixi, which operate bike share programs in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Melbourne, have to find 600 locations in New York, which requires significant communications with the public and New York’s powerful neighborhood groups. And they need to secure $50 million in sponsorships to foot the $5,000-per-bike cost to install the high-tech system.
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