Rental Bikes vs. Advertising

The City of Portland has been exploring the idea of a rental bike system along the lines of those found in may European cities (see the excellent coverage at BikePortland.org).

In Saturday’s O, Anna Griffin explores the funding implications. In Europe, the programs typically include a lot of display advertising which helps underwrite the costs. That probably won’t fly here in Portland where we tend to try to avoid visual advertising clutter. So do we make up the difference with higher rental rates, government subsidies, or … ?

One question I’m interested in is whether the rentals would be one-way or round-trip (i.e., do you have to return the bike at the place where you rented it, or can you return it at any of the kiosks in the system). I don’t see this called out in the RFP. I think a one-way system would be much more useful.

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