Update on bike parking during bus mall project

Posted by on April 2nd, 2007 at 10:12 am

As many of you know, the downtown bus mall is currently under major re-construction. I’ve had several readers wonder what the plans are for bike parking, both during the upheaval and once it’s complete.

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TriMet recently announced their plans to add motorized vehicle parking, but what about bike parking?

I asked TriMet‘s Erik Hesse for an update. He said bike parking is “still being determined” but that Trimet is “looking to make bike connections and parking a major component of this project.”

Hesse added that the project is being managed by PDOT and their point person for bike parking is April Bertelson. She has put together a fact sheet that lists their objectives for the project as they pertain to bike parking:

April Bertelson at a Bus
Mall Project open house.
[File photo: 3/15/05]

  • Satisfy Portland Zoning Code requirements for long-term bicycle parking at light rail stations
  • Replace existing lockers and racks on the Transit Mall displaced by Project improvements
  • Identify the best possible investment of Project dollars in bicycle parking facilities

According to the document, which is only “aspirational” at this point, the project budget includes $89,000 for long-term bicycle parking which is slated to be used for four lockers (fit two bikes each) at light rail (MAX) stations.

Bertelson says other “creative solutions” might include:

  • Enhanced Indoor Bike Parking Facility at PSU
  • Bike Oases
  • Central/North Mall Indoor Facility
  • Relocate Displaced Lockers

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And what about existing, short-term racks? Those will be replaced as close to the original location as possible.

For more info, download the Bus Mall Bike Parking fact sheet (PDF 144kb).

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Adams Carroll (News Intern)Eric HesseDKpeejayAndre Recent comment authors
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$89,000 for 4 lockers? Really?


I had the same reaction. I understand that the price tag most likely includes all of the supporting infrastructure (right down to shipping the lockers to Portland and paying the crew that will install them), but are EIGHT measly long-term parking spaces really that valuable compared to how many more staple-style bike racks that could cover? In my opinion, there is a dearth of simple parking spaces downtown. As an avid rider and daily commuter, I’ve never once thought “gee, I wish there were more bike lockers available”, but I have frequently wished for a much greater abundance of staples …


Since bike lockers are so rare, most people don’t anticipate one being available, and thus don’t even plan to use them. They cannot make commuting decisions based on their availability, and don’t use them. Paradoxically, it’s possible that because of this, lockers might always be available, and go unused. $11000+ per bike is a huge waste of money if the goal were to encourage more bike riding, and even worse if they remain vacant because people cannot plan for their availability. Now, if bike lockers were widespread, we might begin to use them routinely. Maybe their cost per unit would come down, too. But I doubt it. They’re probably made by GM with a huge markup. Kind of like the electric car.


Anyway, bike lockers only made sense in the bad old days of no bikes allowed on Max. I ride three to four miles at each end of my daily Max trip. Do I want to use two bikes for my commute? Lockers just don’t make sense to me.


$89,000 so that 4 bikes can be parked at any given time?? Even this tax-and-spend liberal is amazed at the utter waste. We desperately need more staple racks downtown, and this is what they choose to spend money on? Unbelievable.

Todd of Bikestation
Todd of Bikestation

From reading the text…it looks to be 4 bike pods each providing 2 bike parking locker spaces = total of 8 bikes. I would wait for a clarification from April on what is included in this project’s budget as there have been many things wrapped up in it from time to time…related to bike parking (lockers, racks, marketing, membership technology for bike cages, installation, signage, permits, etc.)

Lockers generally cost from $700 (basic ‘dumb’ locker) to $2500 (‘smart’ electronic locker with architectural quality materials) per stall space. The additional costs of shipping and site preparation depend on the agency and the retailer.

Trimet and a Silcon Forest employer will be visiting the City of Vancouver’s BikeLink system over the next month to see if this type of locker fits their needs and project budget.

Todd of Bikestation
Todd of Bikestation

A recent email to me includes a new planning level cost estimate for ‘smart lockers’ using the BikeLink system from Steven Grover of eLocker Technologies.


The cost per space including shipping and installation – about $2350 – is approximately twice that of traditional mechanically keyed bike lockers, but the on-demand BikeLink system typically serves many more cyclists than traditional lockers and the quality of the locker is higher. The exact cost depends on materials, configuration and quantity. Current lead time is 4-6 weeks for the quad configuration, 12 for wedges.

Here are a few more contacts:

Non-Profit Insurance Alliance in Santa Cruz. Our last contact there was Fred Rodrigez (800) 359-6422. Last I heard they were serving approximately 30 of their 100 employees with 8 BikeLink spaces.
Melanie Mintz, City of El Cerrito CA (510) 215 4339.
Jeramie Brown, San Diego Association of Governments (619) 699-4814.
Dasani.com (we did 5 “Dasani bluebike” installations around the country last year)


Steven Grover AIA, P.E.
eLock Technologies
800 Heinz Ave. #11
Berkeley CA 94710


I think that 89,000 is for 4 lockers at each of the downtown max stops, or so reading John’s post would have me believe.

“for four lockers (fit two bikes each) at light rail (MAX) stations.”

emphasis on the plural, stations


OK, so, maybe they might be cheaper, and if so, great. But my point still stands: unless these things are ubiquitous, you cannot depend on them, and they aid the average commuter not at all. Do you think four is a significant percentage of the number of bike commuters at each Max stop? If so, we’ve got bigger problems!


Forget the lockers, they’re only there for the transients to store their worldly goods while they trapse around on buses and MAX anyway. How about using the down time on the mall to try out some bike lane infrastructure. It wouldn’t take up alot of space to lay down some painted lines and symbols, if only to navigate the construction areas. So, why is it so hard to come up with ideas to alleviate traffic downtown, while supporting alternative (biking) forms of commuting? What a waste of energy, time and taxpayer money! And for what? Lockers.

Eric Hesse

Given the evident confusion about the number of lockers the stated budget would cover, I wanted to validate Andre’s (Post #8) reading that (per City code) 8 long-term bike parking spaces will be provided at each MAX station. As the fact sheet makes clear (I hope), these lockers are just one component of the plan that will include more extensive (because cheaper) short-term parking (a la staples) and other innovative options (see the “creative solutions” bullet).

To people’s concerns about being able to plan, some of the more expensive “smart” lockers leverage IT to provide real-time web-based information on availability throughout the system, which should help for trip planning. Additionally, these systems use smart cards that would be valid throughout the system, rather than an individual renting a particular space for a set period. This is how, per Todd’s post re: BikeStation (#7), the usage numbers compare quite favorably for “smart” lockers relative to traditional ones. Look forward to your continuing input as the plan evolves.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)


Thanks for that comment. I’m glad to see you joining the discussion.

[By the way folks, Eric is the new bike liaison for TriMet.]