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Washington County commissioner swaps car parking spot for a bike locker

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 19th, 2013 at 10:24 am

Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten tries out the bike locker.
(Photos courtesy Janna Allgood)

This is a guest article submitted by Washington County Sustainability Program Educator Janna Allgood.

When it comes to amenities for people who ride bikes, Washington County learned that it pays to think strategically about who’s on your bike commuter list.

Rod Rice, Senior Deputy County Administrator and long-time bike commuter, snapped a few photos of the tight bike parking conditions at an August breakfast to kick off the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge. “Our bike commuter email list has grown from 36 to 49 employees since May,” said Rice.

Martin Granum, Washington County Facilities & Parks Services Superintendent, and fellow bike commuter, jumped on the issue. "I park my bike at another building," said Granum, "so I didn’t know how bad the parking was getting to be at our main building on First Avenue." More bike racks, enough for close to 30 more commuters, have been ordered and will be installed this fall.

Not to be outdone, Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten, another seasoned bike commuter, offered his reserved car parking space for more bike parking. A bike locker, capable of securely storing two bicycles, was recently installed.

Schouten says, "Commuting by bike can save you thousands of dollars every year and improves your physical health." He also notes that "Washington County has a lot of money tied up in parking lots. The bike locker easily doubles the capacity of my old parking space. That's good for the County and two commuter bikes are now safely sheltered from the weather."

Incidentally, Commissioner Schouten returned from Cycle Oregon 2013 last week and followed that by participating in the 50-mile inaugural ride of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway on Monday, September 16.

Note: We always welcome article submissions from readers (whether they are city/county/state staffers or not). If you have a story to share, go ahead and send it in. (While we're open to just about anything, we will only publish stories that meet our editorial standards.)

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Comments
  • wsbob September 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Commissioner Schouten, good start making parking for two bikes out of a space sized for just one car,, but how about a more efficient use of the area in that parking space, with a bike locker or shelter design that would allow parking of what looks as though could easily be 10 or more bikes?

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    • dr2chase September 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Good grief, we agree on something. Maybe not 10 bikes unless you're willing to pile them or lift them, but certainly more than 2. (This assumes you keep the nice roof and walls and locking door. If it was just a roof over a corral, I think I've seen 20 bikes in a parking space.)

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  • peejay September 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

    One good sign that we're winning: when it's not news that there is plenty of bike parking for everybody, and nobody cares or notices that there are fewer and fewer car spots left.

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  • Lynne September 19, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I like the locker setup at Tektronix. There are pods of them by all the buildings

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  • Lynne September 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Link to pic of Tektronix bike lockers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynnefitz/2369488055/

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  • Bjorn September 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I'm surprised that they were able to just remove a parking spot, would be nice if any property owner were allowed to "convert" parking spots without penalty, and not just the government. Parking minimums destroy connectivity, we should let the market decide how many spaces are needed.

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    • Spiffy September 19, 2013 at 11:44 am

      but the converted it to twice as much parking, so it's probably ok...

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    • Todd Boulanger September 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Good point on parking maximums...if we were to pull each developers agreement and compare it to the then code one would usually find the developer built more parking than "required" and there may also be even more through construction and striping changes. So there should be room to convert some to bike parking etc.

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  • Kristen September 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Bjorn, it's not that they removed any old parking spot-- Commissioner Schouten gave up his own assigned spot for this bike parking locker.

    I do agree that it would be nice if property owners felt like they could remove car parking spots to make room for more bike parking spots without backlash, or if they had better incentives to do so.

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  • Heather September 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Dick has always been an amazing supporter of bike infrastructure in Washignton County. I LOVE seeing how he's taking bike parking into his own hands. Dick, THANK YOU for everything you do for Washington County and for the bike community.

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  • Peter W September 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Brilliant! I think the fact that they put that tiny 2-bike locker in a regular parking stall does a great job showing how much how space efficient bikes are. Especially compared to the SUV behind it.

    Dick, keep up the great work in Washington County. Thanks!

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    • wsbob September 19, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      That a single two-bike locker on just one car parking space, emphasizes the luxurious space required for most motor vehicles, is a good point, but that point could easily be enhanced by some bright colored, bold lettering on the rather drab bike locker: Two Bikes!!

      May be kind of fun for efficiency minded people to play around with seeing how many bike lockers could realistically be enabled to work on a single car parking space (keeping in mind that cars will likely be needing to park to either side.). Single level, it looks like four of them would fit and work; that's parking for eight bikes.

      Got to hand it Commissioner Schouten here out in Washington County, for offering a striking example of what can be done by departing from the same old way of doing things. Appreciation also, to Washington County Sustainability Program Educator Janna Allgood for writing a great story, and bikeportland for posting it here.

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  • Editz September 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    That's a 2 bike locker? Are there doors on both ends or something?

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  • Lynne September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    If it is like the Tektronix lockers (I so miss them here at Intel), the rectangle has an inner divider, making two triangles. Works great.

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  • jim September 19, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Do all of the employees get a bike locker?
    Does he get a personal shower too?

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  • wsbob September 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

    "Do all of the employees get a bike locker? ..." jim

    Jim, that's an excellent question!

    The answer probably is, that instead of driving a car to work, and upon getting there, using an area of land the county must provide to park employee cars ('county', being essentially, people paying taxes.), if all of the employees decided to ride their bikes to work instead of driving a car...or even more of them, which, reading the article, seems to be the situation taking place...the county likely would gain by offering employees a bike locker, or other means by which to park their bike while working.

    Reduction in land required to provide parking for employee vehicles...cars...could be substantially reduced, if the vehicle of choice were a bike instead.

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  • Justin Gast September 20, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I work at Washington County as well and I'm glad we're getting more racks for bike parking. There are bike boxes available for employees, but not boxes for everyone who bikes. I myself don't use one.

    What makes biking to WashCo. easy is the locker room facilities available for guys and gals.

    When I first started biking from North Portland to Hillsboro for work, I saw very few cyclists on the Westside once I got into Beaverton. Now, I'm seeing more and more, as I believe more individuals are realizing the ride from the Westside to PDX isn't that bad, and, the infrastructure out here is getting better, thanks to individuals like Commissioner Schouten.

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  • Lynne September 20, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Re: showers. While they are really nice, they aren't necessary. My commute is 10 mi each way, so I am usually awfully sticky when I arrive. I wash my hair in the bathroom sink, and take a couple of wrung out washcloths, 1 with a bit of soap, the towel, and my change of clothes into the handicapped stall. Just like Superman. :-)

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    • Terry D September 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      Just like me in 1999. I think showers are a sign of slow progress. :)

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  • Trek 3900 September 22, 2013 at 2:56 am

    Now if we could get rid of our county commissioners we might be able to live as free and prosperous people; and they wouldn't take up ANY parking spaces. I won't be holding my breath waiting on it.

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