Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 28th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
and Burnside is one of 12 that have been recently installed.
I've got some great news for Portlanders who frequent Plaid Pantry convenience stores by bike.
For years, I've heard grumblings from readers (and have experienced it myself) about the hassle of having no bike parking at Plaid Pantry stores. It's always been frustrating that the stores have places for people to park cars just a few feet from the entrance while customers who arrive by bike have nowhere to lock up. In Portland (which is America's bike capital last time I checked), Plaid Pantry stores are an institution. For them to have no bike parking seemed like such a shame.
Now I'm happy to report, that because of people that cared enough to contact them and request bike parking, Plaid Pantry has just completed installing bike racks at 12 locations throughout Portland.
I first heard about this citizen effort in comments on a June 2011 story about a PSU study on how travel modes impact consumer behavior. It turns out, reader Geana Tyler had emailed Plaid Pantry about bike parking just one month prior. Tyler wrote,
"Recently I have had to pass up several locations because there was no secure place to lock my bike up while I needed to grab a few quick items. I live on SE Holgate and there are two Plaid Pantries that could see more customers if there were secure locations for us to lock our bikes to. I ended up riding to the Safeway on 122nd and Powell because they have bike racks."
Plaid Pantry President & CEO Chris Girard replied to Tyler saying the addition of bike racks would be a "great idea" but that the sidewalks in front of his stores were too narrow and therefore didn't meet City of Portland bike parking codes. In response to Tyler, Girard said, "I am having our Land-Use folks check to see if there is may have been a modification to the code or other alternative, so that we can better accommodate bike folks."
Enter Plaid Pantry Administrative Manager Laura Sadowski. Sadowski heard several requests from customers about the bike parking issue and she also happens to ride herself and took a personal interest in doing something about it.
Another challenge was that most of Plaid Pantry's stores are leased to independent operators and therefore they'd need to get permission from each landlord before making any exterior changes. When I emailed with her in June 2011, she said she was already working through these issues.
Fast Forward to September of this year. Tyler said she noticed a new rack at her local Plaid Pantry at SE 122nd and Holgate. Turns out, in response to her initial requests and emails, Plaid Pantry had installed just a few racks as a test.
Then today I received the following from Sadowski:
"In response to customer requests for a place to safely park their bikes while shopping at their local Plaid Pantry store, and input from our Field Managers, we are pleased to announce we have completed the installation of bike racks at SE 50th & Division, SE 30th & Belmont, SE 122nd Ave & Holgate, N Greeley & Rosa Parks Way, SE 12th & Morrison, N Going & Interstate, SE 112th & Division, NE 28th & Glisan, SE 20th & Burnside, SE Grand & Burnside, SE 21st & Powell, and SE 20th & Division. Thank you to those customers who helped identify those particular Plaid Pantry stores and the biking community for your patience while we installed the bike racks!"
Here's how the racks look at the SE Grand and Burnside location:
This is fantastic! Sure the racks could be more plentiful, perhaps covered, and someday they should be placed closer to the main door (how about using one of the car spaces?); but this is a great start.
Thank you Geana and everyone else who contacted Plaid Pantry. And thanks to Chris Girard and Laura Sadowski from Plaid Pantry for making it happen. Hopefully we see more of the 107 Plaid Pantry locations throughout the region add bike parking. This isn't about just appeasing a customer request, this is about respecting customers no matter how they arrive. It's also about competition. People who bike will go out of their way for a business that welcomes them. Not only that, but I have a hunch that Girard is well aware that the former CEO of New Seasons is opening up a chain of healthy convenience stores and you can bet those will have ample bike parking.