By Jamie Bartman
I decided to check out PSU’s BIKETOWN and see for myself how it works. I decided to go biking on a nice, sunny day. The only problem…
I haven’t ridden a bike since fifth grade.
But I told myself this was no big deal. If you used to bike a lot as a kid you can re-learn again, right? Easy peasy. Not a biggie! At least I wished it was that easy. How my adventure went was much more embarrassing.
I planned on using the PSU BIKETOWN system to bike at Waterfront Park. I dragged my friend with me to make sure I didn’t crack my skull. I downloaded the app and signed up for a membership (free 60 minute trips for students!) then me and Anniston headed down to the Urban Center to find the nearest bike. We picked a bike, scanned the QR code, unlocked it, and our 60 minute trial started.
Here are two things we immediately discovered:
- The bikes are HUGE. I may be exaggerating but the bikes are not fit for a short 5’1 person like me.
- Every biking skill I had in fifth grade has left my head completely. I couldn’t even get on the bike without falling over! My poor friend had to hold onto the bike as I struggled to get on like a toddler. I achieved climbing onto the bike and, sadly, that was as far as I made it in that moment. I couldn’t even ride the bike without tilting over. My frustration got the best of me and I asked my friend to try out the bike. She reassured me that she also hadn’t ridden a bike since she was a kid. I felt comforted only until she got on the bike and rode it like a champ. She pedaled down to the waterfront while I jogged beside her, occasionally taking turns to practice on the bike.
Once we reached the waterfront, I decided to practice riding the bike in a wide, empty space under the bridge. It would be perfect since the source of my anxiety came from running into people and the bike was extraordinarily fast. First we practiced biking steadily downhill, the first few times with my feet on the ground. Then my feet off the ground. Eventually I got brave and pedaled around the lot, my friend recording me and cheering me on like a proud mother.
It went on for about 45 minutes, circling around the lot then practicing the ride uphill and downhill. The bike was fast, easy to turn, and the experience felt freeing. It reminded me why I loved biking as a kid. Easier commute than walking, wind in your hair, cool breeze hitting your face, feeling as free as a bird.
Eventually the free trial was up ($0.05 per min after 60 minutes). My friend biked to the nearest bike stop and I jogged after her. Once we reached it she locked the bike and I ended the trial on the app. Thus concluded our bike riding journey. Would I do it again? As long as I’m with a companion to make sure I don’t die…yes.
Student deals on BIKETOWN rentals
All students throughout Portland who qualify for federal financial aid qualify for a free BIKETOWN for All membership — with no monthly membership fee — and an unlimited number of 60-minute rides a month.
All PSU students not eligible for BIKETOWN for All are eligible for a ride credit to cover up to $20 a month of casual user fees.
About Jamie: I’m a Portland State University freshman from Hermiston, Oregon, majoring in communications and minoring in writing. I’m left handed and a Capricorn (quirky am I right). I enjoy hanging out with my friends at Smith’s and reading poetry.