City has authority to impound privately-owned bikes parked at Biketown racks

City has authority to impound privately-owned bikes parked at Biketown racks

This is how a Biketown station should look when it's empty.(Photo: M Andersen/BikePortland)

This is how a Biketown station should look when it’s empty.
(Photo: M Andersen/BikePortland)

In case you haven’t heard: Don’t lock your bike to one of the orange Biketown racks. If you do the City might cut your lock and impound your bike. Why? Because those racks are only for Biketown bikes.

After docking stations were installed last week they were almost immediately used by people looking for a place to park their own bikes. The issue forced the City to post a relatively aggressive tweet that was picked up by the local media. After that dust-up we asked the city if there was any city code that specifically covered this issue. There is.

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said they will continue to use social media and signage at the stations to educate people about the parking rules. “We don’t want to have to remove anyone’s bicycle!” he said. “Our hope is that with education and warnings we can reduce the incidents of people locking private bikes to Biketown racks.”







But if the education doesn’t work, Rivera says the city will lean on ordinance number 16.70.330 of the Portland City Code. That ordinance — the same one that allows them to confiscate bicycles left in the same spot for over 72 hours — gives the city the right to immediately impound a bicycle if it, “obstructs or impedes… vehicular traffic.”

“In this case,” Rivera tells us, “the vehicle is a bicycle.”

The ordinance also gives the city the right to charge a fee for retrieval of impounded bicycles but Rivera says, “We do not plan to charge fines at this time.”

Even if your bike gets removed and confiscated by the city, you’ll very likely get it back. The ordinance requires the city to make “reasonable efforts” to find the owner and Rivera says they’d hold it for several weeks to give the owner time to claim it.

Biketown is set to launch with 100 stations and 1000 bikes on July 19th.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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