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TriMet asks for support to secure stimulus cash for bike stations, lockers

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 12th, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Pre-paid bike lockers in Vancouver
With more cash, maybe TriMet will
card-activated bike lockers
similar to this one in
downtown Vancouver, WA.
(Photo © J. Maus)

TriMet is counting on about $60 million in federal cash as part of the stimulus bill. That slice of money cannot go to operations and must be spent on transit infrastructure and preventative maintenance projects.

TriMet's list of projects under consideration for that funding currently totals about $127 million. To help Uncle Sam make up his mind about where to put the money, TriMet is encouraging folks to make public comments in support of projects they care about.

On that list is a project titled, Bike Parking Improvements. According to TriMet, the money would go toward:

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Replacement of existing deteriorating bike lockers, and construction of up to six bike stations (secure, covered, high capacity bike parking facilities).

I am not a huge fan of bike lockers (they seem over-engineered and more complicated/expensive than necessary), but the bike station mention is interesting. I contacted TriMet's bike program czar Colin Maher to find out more.

Maher said, "Our top priority is to replace our oldest bike lockers. Additional funding would be used to build bike cages at up to six transit centers throughout the region with parking for up to 120 bikes at each."

TriMet is looking into building bike cages, similar to this one in Boston.
(Photo: by k a t m on Flickr)

Also according to Maher, these new bike cages would be designed with theft-prevention in mind by using lockable gates with card readers and security cameras. The design, he said, would be similar to recently installed bike cages used on Boston's MBTA line.

If you want to weigh in and speak up in support of this project and the importance of bike parking and bike-transit connections, here's a link to the comment form. Comments must be submitted by 9 a.m. on Friday, February 20.

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Comments
  • Mike February 12, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Actually, I'd rather have busses and max trains modified to take more bikes.

    Everyone who wants to leave their bike at a bus stop raise your hand....anyone....anyone....

    Did Trimet ask their riders, or cyclists who aren't riders, where more bike lockers are on their priorities?

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  • Paul Cone February 12, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    What about some of those triple racks like the Seattle busses have?

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  • Loren February 12, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I'm a huge fan of the lockers at Clackamas Town Center. You can't see through them. They're over at the parking lot off to the side of Macaroni Grill and REI. The only downside I can see with them is that the divider is a piece of particle board. Doesn't inspire confidence if one side isn't locked.

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  • Peter February 12, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    bike lockers at strategic locations would be OK, but in regular places where they actually have to be seen? blah.

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  • Donna February 12, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    I understand the triple racks have been removed from busses in Seattle because they have a tendency to spill bikes.

    I share the preference that the money be used to get more bikes on busses & MAX.

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  • a-dub February 12, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I'm all for more space on buses and MAX (and WES too for that matter), but in the meantime I like the lockers. Yes the particle board divider is a bit underwhelming but it is thick particle board. I actually wish the lockers were slightly bigger so that I could easily fit my son's rear rack bike seat in (detached of course) with some ease.

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  • Marie February 12, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I definately think a large bike cage like the one in the picture would be great over at PGE Park. But I can't see any need for more of those little "bike lockers" they are huge and only hold 1-2 bikes. Seems a waste of space especially since they are empty most of the time. I'd much rather see the Max hold a greater number of bikes. 4 racks on each car is not enough.

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  • John Russell February 12, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Personally, I don't think building this bike parking is what we should be doing with this money. I for one would never use them. I think there are a lot more worthy projects that will help a lot more people.

    Lighting along the Multi-use path adjacent to the I-205 LRT sounds like a good one, as does the Transit Tracker installation at
    I-205 MAX stations along with things like Preventative Maintenance.

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  • Cecil February 12, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    I absolutely LOVE my bike locker. I ride my bike to the transit center in the morning, lock it in its very secure, weatherproof blue box, get on the bus and go to work, come back on the bus and retrieve my bike and ride home. What absolutely astounds me, however, is that Tri-Met charges me a mere $5 a month for the privilege. And that's a new development - it used to be FREE - imagine that! Perhaps if they charged a wee bit more, they be able to build a few more . . .

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  • SkidMark February 12, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I thought Tri-Met conducted an online survey about this and discovered that most people needed their bikes at both ends of their commute? I would prefer more bike access on trains and buses. I have no need for a locker.

    I used the triple racks in Seattle last spring and they worked fine, no different than the ones on the buses here, just room for another bike. The bus part of my commute was downtown to Redmond, so my 20 lb. bike stayed on over potholes and at freeway speeds, in the rain.

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  • mechanic Mark February 13, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Here's one more vote for increased bike capability on bus and MAX. I've got no use for bike parking since I need my bike to continue once I reach my stop. I fear that if Tri-met builds these bike cages, it will be that much easier for them to restrict bike access on transit.

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  • Todd Boulanger February 13, 2009 at 10:17 am

    As a long time bike commuter whose bike life was vastly improved when buses got sportworks racks and Trimet did away with the bike passes...

    I hate to bring the bad news...but there is little Trimet can do about adding enough peak hour bike capcity to buses to fill the demand - unless pedestrians stop riding buses. (The triple racks are having problems (safety and security) and artic buses are a ways off for most routes.) MAX trains could have a more bike (and pram) friendly layout with flip up seats, but again this does not help for the peak hour demand.

    Commuter rail (WES) is another story...there is greater opportunity to carry bikes in larger volumes (but it is still not enough for peak hour demand - look at Caltrain one of the best models in the US.)

    http://www.caltrain.com/news_2009_02_06_bike_capacity.html

    For local transit trips the bike parking behavior of Dutch and Japanese commuters will be the model where the greatest number of transit bicyclists can be served successfully (leaving a bike at the station stop in a secure parking area - perhaps a bike at each trip end).

    I know that model is hard to develop trust in - especially in this country where most have not used it and most transit agencies bike parking is pretty poor and unsecure.

    For those that need to 'carry' their bikes with them - its going to be folders...or waiting for the next bus...or carrying a card to the 'public shared bike' kiosk. Or just riding a bike and skipping a bus trip.

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  • bikieboy February 13, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Cecil (#9), you've hit upon a fundamental pricing dilemma: with single user/key operated bike lockers, especially at MAX stations, if you make 'em free you have an underutilized asset, as people who use it infrequently will have guaranteed 24/7 access and no incentive to return the key, but price it high enough so you discourage this behavior and you end up discouraging people from biking to access transit.

    Seems like on-demand card-swipe lockers would address this somewhat, though then you run into a cyclists arriving at a transit station and not finding a space. And, as others have noted, just locking up one's bike to a bike rack at a MAX stop all day is not very palatable.

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  • Options Guy February 13, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Big challenges - growing number of cyclists, increasing transit use overall, and projected Metro-area growth of a million more people over the next couple of decades. How will we fit?

    Come to PBOT's March Bike Brown Bag (3/19 at the Portland Building) for a discussion with Colin Maher.

    And while you've got your calendar out, mark down next Thursday (Feb. 19) for the Bike Brown Bag on the proposed Idaho Stop Law. Sure to be a lively discussion!
    (end of commercial; back to your infosnacking...)

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  • Jessica Roberts February 13, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Wait - you're all complaining that TriMet wants to vastly improve bicycle accommodations at stops? Seriously?

    It's going to take a lot of tools to meet bicycle-transit demand, but I can guarantee you that we will NEVER be able to put all the bikes on vehicles that might want to be there. Station parking is not the only solution, but it's definitely part of the solution.

    If TriMet were reading this thread I think they would conclude that they shouldn't even bother to install anything...which would be a big mistake.

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  • Brad February 13, 2009 at 11:41 am

    If they ban bikes during peak hours because there is plentiful bike parking (and I bet that is what will happen) then I will revert to driving. With a 15 minute walk at each end of the MAX trip instead of an easy five minute spin, I actually gain time by going back to the car and the comfort / convenience factor offsets the costs in my mind.

    Have you been on the westside MAX in the past year? More than half of the riders are standing past Beaverton Transit Center anyway. It has to be less expensive to remove seats and add hooks than build a covered secure bike corral. Less seats allows more bikes and people on trains.

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  • Carl February 13, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I love how folks seem to love the way cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam handle bikes...except for when it comes to bikes on mass-transit. While a Copenhagen cyclist would laugh if you suggested they try to put their bike on a city bus, Portlanders MUST BE ABLE TO PUT THEIR BIKES ON MASS TRANSIT! As a Zoobomber, I must admit, I enjoy this privilege (albeit off-peak with a 16"), too, but I'm also perceptive enough to recognize that as our bike mode share skyrockets, it's decreasingly realistic to expect your bike to ride for free (or at all) on mass transit. It just doesn't scale. That's why in the cities whose mode splits we're striving to match, bikes are rarely allowed on public transit for free if at all.

    SO. Trimet is listening to concerns about locking bikes at stations and bus stops and they're trying to make those conditions better. Stop whining.

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  • Geezer Guy February 13, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I find it hard to support Trimet when they don't seem to want to support me with my commuting needs from Gresham on MAX. I gave up on them about 2 years ago and really have no plans on trying to use them again.

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  • Carl February 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    "I gave up on (Trimet) about 2 years ago and really have no plans on trying to use them again."

    Yay optimism!

    Thanks "Geezer Guy." Your comment and your moniker perfectly sum up why I frequently call this site "GRIPEportland.org"

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  • Bent Bloke February 13, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I hope Trimet considers the needs of special bikes. My 7.5 foot long recumbent (needed because of back problems) just won't work with their current bike lockers, won't fit on the bus racks, and isn't allowed on MAX. The bike cage idea in the photo would work, though. Thumbs up for that!

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  • carless in pdx February 13, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I'd honestly rather see Trimet use the funds to improve bus stops w/shelters and LCD display times on major frequent service lines, and consolidate some of the stops to make their service faster and more reliable.

    I bike a lot, too.

    One quick observation I had while in Europe - the local trains in Switzerland (a 6+ carriage train), I believe, dedicated half of an entire train car to stand-up bike racks. People with their dogs and babystrollers also would use it instead of the normal train cars.

    However, this was NOT a metro or light rail line; it was an intercity service. No rush hour, nobody was standing.

    Would be a good model for WES, Amtrak Cascades, that sort of thing.

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  • carless in pdx February 13, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    That being said, however... why don't they just install 50 staple racks at each transit center and MAX stop?

    By far the highest bike theft rate is downtown, and the theft rate really isn't that bad - I've never had a bike stolen in this city, as long as you use a decent lock.

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  • bikesalot February 13, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    +1 on the comment about recumbents on transit. My wife and I got warning citations for being obstructions the last time (on Max some 2+ years ago) that I have used Trimet. That was late on a Sunday evening, by the way.

    The secure bike shelter room, however, does have potential for a regular run with a recumbent. Wouldn't work for my current commute, but you never know the future.....

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  • jim February 13, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    If they put this money into maintenance , can they take money they would normally put in maintenance and spend it on operations?

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  • Matthew Denton February 13, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    I would in theory use a cage, if the cage was near the Goose Hollow end of downtown. (Maybe in the Triangle at the PGE park station?) However, you can currently get a locker in a parking garage downtown for $75/6 months, (at the Library/Galloria (sp?) stops,) and besides the fact that I have to sign up and all that, (and I'm more lazy than caring about the money issue,) why should I pay when I can get on the train for free? Sure, somedays at rush hour the train is so full that I have to wait for another one, and I do, and adds 5 minutes to my reading time. (I'm reading this great book right now: Ecotopia Emerging)

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  • jim February 13, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    What if they were to allow a private company(s) to install and operate bike lockers in key areas

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  • JR February 14, 2009 at 8:03 am

    #24 If they put this money into maintenance , can they take money they would normally put in maintenance and spend it on operations?

    I believe this is already going on quite a bit, but there's only so many buses and MAX trains that can get progressive overhauls at a time, given the peak vehicle requirements during rush hour.

    I don't think there's many other opportunities great bike parking coming in the near term, so I'm all for better (and more) bike parking at key locations. Once we get a half dozen locations really full, it will force TriMet to think harder about adding real bike parking elsewhere. This is a really cost-effective use of that money!

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  • Coyote February 14, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Carl (#17) is right bikes don't scale on transit. Making more room for them on the MAX just reduces efficiency. At some point we are going to have to start looking at that too.

    For those who need a bike at both ends of their commute I would suggest a folding bike or a xootr. Of course more and better transit would be even better.

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  • jim February 15, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Lance probably could have used one of those lockers. He just got ripped off. It shouldn't be to hard to find as it's a one-off

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  • Racer X February 18, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Or how about a true bike centric city parking policy...for a platinum city...include set requirements (10% to 20%) for real bike parking (fee for service smart lockers/ parking bicycle stations) as part of city car parking contracts for 'Smart Park' etc.

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