Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on July 21st, 2014 at 3:54 pm
(Photos by David Hampsten)
Portland may have just cracked a very important puzzle: How can the public provide convenient bike parking in neighborhoods where the front door of a business is half a football field away from the sidewalk?
The city just wrapped up a project that bought metal bike racks in bulk and donated them to interested businesses, who in turn agreed to maintain the racks along with the rest of their private parking lots.
The city council had to pass a special exception in its bike code to do it, but the result will be a major convenience upgrade for patrons of the 12 businesses that are getting these new corrals. In our week reporting from East Portland last month, Jonathan and I noticed the huge shortage of bike parking east of Interstate 205, which surely reduces biking rates and increases bike theft. Here’s the city’s Google Map of the destinations that have just received new bike staples or corrals:
“East Portlanders had long flagged the lack of bicycle parking as one of the barriers to meeting daily needs by bike,” the city wrote in its article about the project, published Monday.
After the city council changed its code to allow the public to donate bike racks to private businesses, “East Portland community activists then helped identify potential locations and PBOT staff worked to secure business and property owner agreements.”
Most of the money for the racks and negotiations were paid for by the East Portland Action Plan after being called for by East Portland in Motion, a work plan identified by neighborhood leaders and the city to make biking and walking easier in these neighborhoods that were developed with only cars in mind.
Here’s the catch: the process of getting all the necessary parties to sign off on these corrals — business managers, business owners, property managers, property owners and everyone’s lawyers — was so complicated that the city is unlikely to install any more racks unless businesses or residents do much of that legwork themselves in the future.
“We’re seeing this as a completed project for now,” Portland Bureau of Transportation bike parking specialist Scott Cohen said. “I had to work pretty hard to find the 12 locations. it wasn’t like people were knocking down my door asking me to do this. … If there’s a ton of business interest and we get a ton of the business community coming back to us asking for these, we’ll look at it again.”
Portland’s on-street bike parking program, surely one of the nation’s best, grew out of a single corral installed on North Mississippi Avenue. Nearby businesses saw the benefits, asked for their own and the common-sense idea spread. Whether the same process can repeat in a different environment will, at least for now, be up to East Portland retailers and biking advocates.