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TriMet to build fewer bike lockers and more covered bike racks at new transit stops

Posted by on February 27th, 2014 at 7:59 am

(Photos courtesy TriMet.)

Portland’s regional transit agency is installing far fewer $50-a-year bike lockers than it used to and adding more short-term parking near stops as it rethinks the ways people in cities tend to combine bikes and public transit.

Though the City of Portland’s parking code requires eight “long-term” parking spaces at every new rail stop, the city is waiving that rule for many stations on the future Orange Line. Instead, TriMet is building several much larger and more space-efficient bike-and-ride storage areas, plus plenty of covered, open-air bike parking.

“We’re looking to increased covered bike parking in the future,” TriMet active transportation planner Jeff Owen said Wednesday. “It’s very low barrier to entry. You just show up and use it.”


In all, the Orange Line will include a total of 445 bike parking spaces at the line’s 10 new stations. (Stay tuned for some in-depth coverage of the numerous bike access improvements on the way with the new rail line through Southeast Portland.)

The traditional bike lockers, meanwhile, require a reservation process, and most are only available to one person at a time. At many stations, there’s a waiting list to get one, even though they regularly sit unused.

One of three bike shelters installed at bus stops
by the City of Forest Grove in 2012.

“Once someone has it, they tend to keep it for a long time because it’s a pretty good deal,” Owen said of the long-term lockers. “You’re making a couple people happy for a few years.”

Some other local cities, looking to boost transit ridership by increasing bike-to-transit connections, are thinking similarly. In 2012, Forest Grove installed three covered bike parking facilities at bus stops at a cost of $62,000. (Of that, $45,000 went to build the shelters themselves; the other $17,000 was from the racks, pads and installation.)

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  • BicycleDave February 27, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Duh. What a stupid idea bike lockers are. Reserve space where 3 or more bikes could be locked 24/7/365 for the exclusive use of 1 person and charge them a lower than market price for the privilege.

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    • Todd Hudson February 27, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Mixed feelings. The last time I parked my bike all day at a Trimet stop, I returned to find a my bike reduced to a frame and a chain. The two surveillance cameras apparently were not a deterrant; Trimet even told me it wasn’t a serious enough event to review the footage.

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  • James February 27, 2014 at 10:46 am

    That shelter looks so tall, how does it even keep your bike dry when its slightly breezy? $45K, less security, less weather resistant….I’ll stick to my bike locker.

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  • dan February 27, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Why not have bike lockers that work more like airport luggage lockers? Make them fee-for-use, say a few bucks per day, and first come first served. Or, bump the cost, $50/year is obviously too low.

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    • Spiffy February 27, 2014 at 11:51 am

      like the covered bike lockers at Gateway that hinge and let you lock your bike inside them and also lock the cover closed…

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    • davemess February 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Yes! The rare few times I’ve wanted to use a bike locker (like for a week’s trip where I need to get to the airport), I don’t want to rent one for months or years. Single use lockers would be so much better, and are likely to get used a lot more often.

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      • Scott Mizée February 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        The end of the MAX redline at the airport would ALSO be an ideal location for single use lockers. YES, I realize there are TSA issues, but can’t we figure out a way to get past that?

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        • davemess February 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm

          Oh I was even just thinking MAX stops before I got to the airport, so i could just ride the mile from my house over to the station and lock up my bike, then get on the train.

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          • Scott Mizée March 4, 2014 at 11:08 am

            yes. that makes sense. I would still like to have a Bike Secure Parking Area at the airport for those of us who do ride to the airport.

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      • mabsf February 27, 2014 at 5:46 pm

        Why not asked the airport to provide a bike check area where you can check in your bike for the length of your trip?

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        • davemess February 28, 2014 at 7:16 am

          Because I just want to ride my bike to the MAX (not necessarily the airport). And anything involving an airport tends to usually be overpriced.

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    • Jame March 4, 2014 at 11:03 am

      We’ve got these in the Bay Area, provided by a company called Bike Link. They are awesome. 5 cents an hour, you just need to purchase the Bike Link card. They have been putting them up at our BART stations. I think you can leave your bike in there for 3 days, and it is first come first serve. It was totally painless to use.

      http://www.bikelink.org

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      • Scott Mizée March 4, 2014 at 11:06 am

        Yes, ours are operated by BikeLink card too. In fact, your Bike Link card will work here in Portland too! :) We just need more of them here in more convenient locations for a better network.

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  • Spiffy February 27, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I would never leave my bike at a transit stop… that’s just ripe for theft…

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    • mran1984 February 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Does anyone actually do this? Honestly, I would drive my car before I left a bicycle like this… and I ONLY DRIVE TO GET TO THE TRAIL HEAD.

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    • Alex Reed February 27, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      I left my bike at the NE 60th Ave. MAX stop for more than a year during the workday. After my panniers were stolen (though they were pretty cheap and there was nothing in them, it still wasn’t very smart to leave them there with only a bungee keeping them there), I locked some Wald baskets on with little padlocks. All my components were bolted on, no quick release. No other problems. It was very convenient for me and I would have kept doing it if we hadn’t moved. We lived about a mile from the MAX stop and biking there saved me a good bit of time walking every day or a bus transfer.

      It would have been nice if TriMet had more secure bike parking – I hear that train stations in the Netherlands and Denmark have gigantic bike parking stations with attendants.

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      • Tony February 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm

        ” I hear that train stations in the Netherlands and Denmark have gigantic bike parking stations with attendants.”

        They do, and while many are free, most cost 2-4 Euros/Day to use.

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        • JV February 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm

          However, in Europe (or at least what I saw in Netherlands, Germany, and Italy) there are also just lots of bikes locked up every which way outside train stations. Theft is indeed a problem, but there is a market solution there : Care about your bike, then pay to use daily service. Don’t care, then lock it up outside.

          It would be great to have both options at transit hubs, as the range of people’s bikes and their attitude about security varies greatly.

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      • Paul February 27, 2014 at 7:26 pm

        Yeah, there can be thousands of bikes near a main train station – 15-20k bikes around Amsterdam’s Centraal station alone – and hundreds at smaller stations in A’dam and smaller Dutch cities. So you have the safety in numbers thing working for you.

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  • GlowGoy February 27, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    There’s an employer near me here on the westside that offers TWO kinds of bike lockers to its workers: Reservable, exclusive-use lockers (like we’ve been talking about here) and Day-use lockers, available first-come, first-serve, and BYO lock. What makes them day-use is that any lockers left locked overnight are either double-locked or have the locks removed.

    I’ve got skin in this game, because I live about 2/3 mile from the nearest stations on the new Orange line. That’s a longer walk than I’d like to always do, and often I will want to ride down to the station and leave my bike there so I don’t have to bring it on a crowded train. But no way am I going to leave my bike locked up all day at a staple rack, at least not on a regular basis.

    Why won’t TriMet offer day-use lockers? Seems like the right solution to this problem. (And BTW the bike lockers downtown, the other logical place for me to lock ‘n’ ride, are a LOT more than $50/year. Which is why I haven’t rented one).

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    • dan February 27, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      For that kind of distance, a skateboard would be perfect, and it’s the right size to easily carry on the train with you. There’s a couple of cool local longboard manufacturers…

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      • GlowBoy February 27, 2014 at 7:49 pm

        Good point. I do have an 8″-wheeled scooter (Razor A5) that is perfect for that job, and bought specifically for this sort of thing but don’t always thing of. The Razr’s urethane wheels aren’t suitable for wet pavement IME, but if lockers don’t materialize at the Clinton or Rhine station I could see investing in a rubber-wheeled scooter like the KickPed.

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  • DIO February 27, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Why can’t TriMet convert its existing bicycle lockers into Electronic Bike Lockers, as well as, add in more Electronic Bike Lockers?

    http://www.trimet.org/howtoride/bikes/electroniclockers.htm

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  • dweendaddy February 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I agree with DIO – have more bike lockers, but have them pay for themselves. I think 10c/hour is reasonable. It would cost about $1 if you were working a full day, and that peace of mind should be worth it. If they got 50c a day from those on average, it would be a lot more than they get now. Those typically cost $1-2k to install, so they would pay for themselves over 5-15 years, unlike the new $45,000 shelter.

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  • Scott Mizée February 27, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Interested to see the new plans. The question about on-demand lockers is a good one. I know it has been thought about.

    Jeff: Could you please speak to that a little bit?

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  • dr2chase February 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Perhaps emulate the MBTA’s “Pedal & Park”? It’s a fenced enclosure, with racks, with a camera and a register-before-use prox card access.

    Costs more, but is more secure. A yearly fee on the prox card would help deter thefts. There have been thefts, and the videos reviewed, and the thieves caught.

    E.g. http://flic.kr/p/h8SJs1 (There are now three of these, and it’s been mostly double-decked since then, plus there’s still 100+ unprotected spaces, at a station with over 10,000 entries per weekday. So something smaller might be appropriate for a smaller station. Note that this photo was taken 3 weeks after opening, and directly behind me taking this photo the unprotected parking is still full: http://flic.kr/p/h8SDDx . Build it, and they just might come.)

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  • Scott Mizée February 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    @dr2chase: The Alewife station is a great example. We actually already have 2-3 sites similar to MBTA’s ‘Pedal & Park” here. (disclaimer: I was one of the designers working on them in 2009) TriMet is calling these facilities “Bike & Ride.”

    Here are some more recent pictures I took of the Boston area Alewife station secure parking areas this last fall. http://bit.ly/AlewifeSPA It is a highly, HIGHLY used facility and a new section (the one with now bikes in it) was about to open.

    Note that they have now double stacked the bikes on one side. Also, that cardboard cutout of the police officer has reportedly reduced crime.

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    • davemess February 27, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      These types of facilities are not quite as enticing for single users, who might not want the hassle of getting a card/access, etc. I see the bigger facilities being more useful further out on the line and the more day use ones closer in.

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      • dr2chase February 27, 2014 at 5:06 pm

        Try it, you’ll like it. The MBTA has done a pretty good job. Usual case travel uses a stored-value prox card, that’s fast and easy. For bike access, you get a “special” card from most agents, and register it online so they know who you are. *Everybody* has a stored value prox card; the only difference (and I am not sure there is even a difference anymore with the online registration) is that the Bike card is obtained from an agent, once.

        That’s it, you’re done, ride to the station, *boop*, wheel the bike in and lock it, walk towards the subway, *boop*, get on train, etc. Same prox card gets you on busses, pretty sure it gets you on the commuter rail, too.

        My wallet just has a BikeCharlie card in it somewhere, I always top it up when it falls below ten dollars so I can get me and a guest on the train in a hurry.

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        • davemess February 28, 2014 at 7:18 am

          except I don’t live in Boston (despite my best efforts to get into BU).

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          • Scott Mizée February 28, 2014 at 8:00 am

            You don’t have to live in Boston. Use the TriMet Bike & Ride facilities here in Portland. Only problem is, there are not enough of them in the right places.

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          • dr2chase February 28, 2014 at 8:01 am

            If the guys running your transit system have not moved on to stored-value prox cards, I think they’re (probably) not doing their job. Maybe you lack the necessary scale to make it economical, but in terms of boarding speed and convenience, it’s a big improvement over coins and bits of paper — plus they can be used for other things, like opening semi-protected bike storage areas.

            I.e., they make things more enticing for single users.

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  • Jim February 27, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    This sounds like a common sense alternative.

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  • WendP March 2, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Never mind that not all bikes fit inside the storage lockers. I waited six months to get a TriMet locker just to find out my bike (a Townie) wouldn’t fit in any direction or orientation. I will give TriMet props for refunding me in a timely manner. Honestly, though, I’d rather have my bike fit.

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