alta planning

Bicycle planning icon Mia Birk is leaving Alta Planning after 16 year career

by on November 5th, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Mia Birk in her office this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Mia Birk’s ‘joyride’ as a leader in the bicycle planning field is taking a major turn. Alta Planning + Design, the firm Birk joined in 1999 after a stint as the City of Portland’s bicycle coordinator, announced today that she is leaving at the end of this year.

“It’s time,” Birk shared with me in a conference at the firm’s Portland headquarters on Southeast Grand this morning. “It’s just a gut feeling.”

Since the mid 1990s Birk has played a major role in the renaissance of cycling in America. As the bicycle coordinator for the City of Portland between 1993 and 1999 her persistence and unwavering belief in bike lanes literally laid the groundwork for Portland’s reputation as our country’s best city for cycling.

When she joined Alta in 1999 the firm had just one office and two employees. As president and most recently CEO, Birk’s career at Alta has seen the company boom to nearly 200 employees and 30 offices throughout North America.

As Alta grew so did the field of bicycle planning itself.

Turnover of top traffic engineers will shake up city and county

by on March 12th, 2015 at 11:05 am

Cycletrack on SW Broadway-2
Rob Burchfield, who spent 16 years as Portland’s city traffic engineer, is moving to the private sector.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Two people whose judgment calls have shaped Portland’s streets for years — in one case, for decades — are stepping into jobs elsewhere.

Rob Burchfield, Portland’s top traffic engineer since 1999 and a nationally respected innovator on bike-friendly street designs, will leave the city on Friday after almost 30 years. He’s becoming the regional engineering director for Toole Design Group, a national engineering and design firm that specializes in biking and walking projects.


NYC investment company buys Alta Bicycle Share, hires former transit CEO

by on October 28th, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Bike share ride with Oregon team-1
DC’s Capital Bikeshare system was a hit – a bigger one, it turned out, than an independently owned Alta Bicycle Share had the capacity to capitalize on.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

You might have heard by now: A local bike business that bootstrapped its way to the national stage, and then suffered a dizzying series of problems, has sold.

Alta Bicycle Share, a startup that unexpectedly became much larger than the bike planning company that birthed it after launching popular and successful systems in Boston and Washington DC, announced Tuesday that it has been purchased by New York City real estate developer REQX Ventures.

Terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed. In July, the Wall Street Journal pegged the deal at $40 million, but it’s not clear whether any of that money went to Alta’s founders or will be invested directly into the company. It’s also not clear whether Alta’s six cofounders (including local executive and former Portland bicycle coordinator Mia Birk) retain any ownership in the firm.


Chicago brings Portland’s bag of biking tricks to Bronzeville’s ‘Black Metropolis’

by on February 6th, 2014 at 10:58 am

Cargo Bike Roll Call: Bronzeville edition
A Bronzeville resident at a local bike event last fall.
(Photo: Steven Vance.)

Can a Portland-brewed program that uses free events, maps and T-shirts to get people informed and enthused about biking and walking work on the inner south side of Chicago?

With the help of two experts from Portland’s top bike planning firm and two advocates in Chicago’s Bronzeville community, the City of Chicago is trying.


10 key details from Portland’s bike share proposal and contract

by on September 4th, 2013 at 10:12 am

A rendering by Alta Bicycle Share of a future Portland
bike share station at downtown’s Director Park.

As public bike share systems continue to become standard public services in cities around the country, we figured it was time to learn more about what’s in store for Portland.

Meet 4 of the best indoor bike racks on the market (videos)

by on August 27th, 2013 at 10:26 am

Mad scientist Scott Mizée outside
his bike parking laboratory.
(photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Indoor bike parking rooms are becoming standard in Portland’s offices and apartment buildings. But when square footage is scarce, sometimes plastic-coated hooks just won’t do.

That’s where hanging horizontal racks come in. These two-level metal models cost hundreds of dollars per bike space — but they also make a bike parking area 50 to 100 percent more efficient per square foot.

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Their systems of shocks and hinges also make it easy for someone with a smaller frame or less muscular arms to hoist a bike into place. To get a better look at the state of the industry in bike parking, I visited local expert Scott Mizée of Alta Planning and Design. Alta’s employee bike parking room — a.k.a. “Bike SPA” — on Portland’s inner eastside doubles as Mizée’s test lab for the industry’s best bike parking products.

I asked Mizée to give a brief introduction to each of the main horizontal rack products he’s testing.