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Officials respond to bike parking shortage at Lewis & Clark

Posted by on September 19th, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Lewis and Clark college bike stuff

Bikes parked on Lewis
& Clark campus.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

The “problem” of not enough bike parking has reared its head at yet another place in Portland: Lewis & Clark College.

With growing bike use, a new school year, and the Bike Commute Challenge going full steam (L & C is a perennial front-runner in the 500+ employees category), bike parking at the small college nestled in Portland’s Southwest Hills is at a premium.

As a result, many students have taken to parking bikes anywhere they can; including inside the Templeton Campus Center. That’s a big no-no, according to the school’s Director of Transportation and Parking, Mark Morgan.

Last week he sent out an email to graduate students warning that bikes not locked to available racks would be subject to impound. I was forwarded a copy of that email and have pasted it below:

“We appreciate and encourage bicycle use on our campus. Bicycles, however, are not permitted inside of the Templeton Campus Center. This foyer area is used regularly for activities and is not suitable for parking bikes. Those seeking a place to park their bike under cover and out of the rain can use the bike rack outside, located beneath cover of the Council Chamber.

…bicycles must be parked outside of Templeton regardless of the weather.

Also, please be advised that bicycles must be parked in designated bicycle parking racks and not locked to stairway handrails, light posts, signs, or other appurtenances or building interiors not designated for bicycle parking. Bicycles parked in this way are subject to impound by Campus Safety.”

After the email went out, Morgan heard complaints from students that there were simply not enough racks available. He discussed the problem with Lisa Pogue, Director of Administrative Services. Pogue says she walked out of her office one day and saw, “bikes locked to the handrails…there were clearly not enough bike racks.” She added that, “we want to make sure we fulfill the needs of anyone using alternative ways to get to the school.”

“[Bike parking] is something I’m continuing to address… we’re trying to keep up with demand.”
–Director of Transportation and Parking, Mark Morgan.

In a follow-up email to the students, Pogue wrote that she and Morgan agreed that, “at this time, South Campus does not have enough bike racks for the number of individuals wanting to park their bikes. We will be rectifying this situation soon.”

After hearing “quite a bit of response” from his email, Morgan has taken action. He has directed the Campus Safety department to not impound bikes locked to handrails until the bike rack situation is improved; and, he has put in an order for six new racks that will park 12 bikes.

In addition, Morgan says he’s already recently added new racks at the Templeton Center and at other places around campus.

But even Morgan realizes that this probably won’t be enough, “there probably will be other places to add bike racks and I will do so as I see them. It’s something I’m continuing to address…we’re trying to keep up with demand. It probably will be an ongoing project to add [bike parking] capacity as we go along.”

The new bike racks will be installed in the South Campus in the next few weeks.

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23 Comments
  • Jessica Roberts September 19, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Six new racks that will park 12 more bikes? Are you kidding? I went to LC years ago and at least when I was there they had way to little bike parking. With bike ridership going up 20% every year they\’ve got to do better than 6 more racks.

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  • toddistic September 19, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    I consider this a good problem.

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  • Jessica Roberts September 19, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Ouch, typo. \”Way too little bike parking,\” of course.

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  • J-On-Bike September 19, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    I read that as six racks that will each park 12-bikes. So parking for an addt\’l 72-bikes.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) September 19, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    \”Six new racks that will park 12 more bikes? Are you kidding? \”

    I agree six racks (parking 12 bikes total) does not seem like much.

    My sense is that L&C is ripe for some sort of bike advocacy group on campus to help dictate policy and give administrators the information and political support they need to get serious about bike facilities.

    I wrote about the Pedal Pushers last year, but I think that\’s more of a social club. they need a bike advocacy group on campus that has some smarts and teeth that can convey what they need.

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  • bikieboy September 19, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Well, Ms. Pogue did say “we want to make sure we fulfill the needs of anyone using alternative ways to get to the school.” So they\’re committed to putting in enough bike spaces to meet whatever the demand is, right?

    Good, enlightened response from L & C Admin. – here\’s hoping they get the devilish bike parking details right…

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  • matt September 19, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    They need a bike oasis!!

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  • Elizabeth September 19, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    I\’m a law student at Lewis & Clark and up here at the north campus we have a Coalition Advocating Transportation Sensibility (a bike advocacy group) – I\’m not sure if they cross over to the south campus, but they do exist!

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  • Babygorilla September 19, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Been there for the past three years. Space usually clears out in late October/November (I wonder why?). Hopefully, this trend is on the reverse.

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  • Andre September 19, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    I just graduated from the u.g. in May and never saw the bike parking full at the science building. I always had an entire rack to myself, the science nerds shouldn\’t be that scary for the oh so sensitive so-an majors.

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  • Andrew Kerr September 19, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Yup, LC Law has a group. We\’re the Coalition Advocating Transportation Sensibility (CATS). We\’ve been around a while but focus mainly on the law school campus. We\’re currently working on getting a couple more racks on the law campus. Jonathon, want to donate a couple? I agree with a previous poster that this is the best type of problem to have. Nonetheless, after working so hard to get people to ride and to set up shower/locker-room facilities its time to redirect our attention to safe and secure parking. Onward and upward. Let\’s all keep it rubber-side-down and work with the school to address the parking shortage. For the driving students, just remember, the more occupied the bike racks are the less occupied the parking lot is.

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  • Andrew Kerr September 19, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Sorry, \”Jonathan\” not \”Jonathon.\” I feel chagrined. Oh, and on the donation of racks tip, we\’ve looked into approaching PDOT but have found they are reluctant to place a rack on private property. We\’re waiting on our final budget allocation from the SBA and hope to put some of our funds toward this item-of-concern. Anyone else know of organizations that help out with the cost of expanding bike parking? After the cost associated with expanding the Gatenbein building on campus to house a shower/locker facility we\’d like to try to take some of the financial \”sting\” out of any further development of alternate-transportation infrastructure.

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  • Jessica Roberts September 19, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Bike racks only cost a couple of hundred bucks. I consider it insulting that a private school expects the City, a nonprofit, or private individuals to pony up for bike racks. Do you think they financed their sea of car parking spaces that way? No way — cars are real transportation, so we actually budget for them.

    Andrew, I\’m not meaning to knock your work; I\’m sure you\’re doing your best. But as an LC alum, I wish I could be proud of their leadership instead of just shaking my head at how last century they seem to be when it comes to bicycling.

    p.s. The one thing I can offer is that the state offers tax credits for organizations that are taking active steps to reduce their energy usage. It\’s called the Business Energy Tax Credit program, and it can be used to pay for things like showers and lockers. Rich Cassidy at the City of Portland can help walk organizations through the process; more info here).

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) September 19, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    \”Yup, LC Law has a group. We’re the Coalition Advocating Transportation Sensibility (CATS). \”

    Thanks for the info Andrew. I did not know about your group and apologize for the ignorance in my previous comment. Great to hear you are organized and working toward better bike facilities. I\’ve got some more information from Mr. Morgan I will publish ASAP.

    keep in touch with me in the future.
    cheers,

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  • BURR September 19, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    bike racks aren\’t that expensive. how much does the real estate for a car parking space cost? Tuition at L&C ain\’t cheap; bike parking should be a given if the demand for such parking by paying students is there. Get with the program, L&C!!!

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  • Spanky September 20, 2007 at 7:47 am

    The lack of bike space there isn\’t news. There was a shortage in 1984 when I started school there. The school has spent plenty of dough recently on many nice improvements. It seems little enough to ask that new bike racks be designed into improvements and installed where present facilities allow space. Even though L & C is in large part a Trust Fund Baby school, there are many, TFB\’s and people who paid their own way both, who ride to school and around the campus, daily. the school should encourage, not hinder this behavior.

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  • Andrew Kerr September 20, 2007 at 11:59 am

    First, CATS is not \”expecting\” anyone to \”pony up\” for racks. What we, the student interest organization, want is to make a proposal for expanded bike parking as palatable as possible, sugar over vinegar as it were. Toward that end, if we can deliver racks at no cost to the administration it stands to reason that it would take less effort to get space (which is at a premium) for racks or get them to match the number of racks we offer. I appreciate that racks are not that expensive. I also appreciate how expensive it is to attend this fine institution. I\’m mortgaging my future to do so. I appreciate that the SBA has very limited funds and that they must be divided as equitably as possible between a myriad interests, efforts and projects. Additionally, the law campus and the undergrad campus really do exist as separate entities, so my comments in no way reflect the situation on the upper-campus, I don\’t attend there and rarely venture up the hill. So I do not and cannot speak for or to their situation. I certainly do not take any responsibility for an email gaffe coming from the upper campus. The law school, per my understanding, while private, is not raking it in hand over fist. That said, there is likely money for racks on the law campus. CATS is formulating a proposal to bring to the administration. Lastly, this is a new problem as far as I reckon. Last year there was not near this much demand for bike parking at this, or any other time of the year. The students and the administration are aware that their alternative-transport advocacy has been more effective than anticipated. As such, the space historically allotted to absorb the increase is proving inadequate. Hence, there is a spate of activity to address the shortage. As other posters have so eloquently put it, we ARE \”getting with the program.\” On the topic of cost for car-parking, I don\’t know what it is currently. Some years ago CATS and other student interest groups on campus did successfully block plans to convert a portion of the forest abutting the law school into car-parking. While this preserved the aesthetic and environmental value of the campus it likely increased the value of and congestion in the existing parking lots. Rather than face another conflict over parking lot development we would like to see bike parking and shuttle service expanded. Thanks for the big-ups Jonathan, right back at\’cha. We\’ll let you know how things pan out. In the meantime, keep it rubber side down and remember that these are the problems we \”like\” having. We could just as easily be complaining about rack after rack of unoccupied bike parking or plans to pave Tryon Park for a multi-level parking structure. Keep fighting the good fight and be glad that the road ahead is not even more uphill.

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  • Boot September 20, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Quoting Spanky – \”Even though L & C is in large part a Trust Fund Baby school, there are many, TFB\’s and people who paid their own way both, who ride to school and around the campus, daily.\”

    As a undergrad student, I shared that same perception. Only when I became a staff member at the College did I realize my false perception. Speaking of the undergraduate college, over 70% of the students receive some sort of financial aid. Certainly there are some \”TFB\’s\” but they do not make up a \”large part\” of the student body.

    To Andre\’s point, this press release only dealt with Templeton, one building on campus. There do exist other bike racks on campus that are rarely used, probably because of location. I wonder if the school would take a look at where the bike racks are and possibly move the under utilized racks to a more central location like Templeton.

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  • Boot September 20, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Additionally, I know that the parking passes required during the school year are roughly $3 a day, the proceeds of which go to funding the free shuttles running downtown and to Sellwood. The downtown shuttle has capacity to hold 6 bikes.

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  • ToddR September 20, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Nice! The more illegally parked bikes the faster the uni will install more racks. Now how about in front of the Alberta St. Pub?

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  • ShawnK September 22, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    I was head of the C.A.T.S. organization at Lewis & Clark law school from 2004-2006. During those years we proposed expanding the bike parking at the law school, but when we really studied the situation, we found that much of the perceived shortage of bike parking was due to the fact that people parked their bikes carelessly, often taking up 2-3 spaces per bike. We were able to correct this with the use of \”courtesy notices\” that we attached to offending bikes, and as a result the \”shortage\” disappeared. I wonder how much of the current shortage has a similar cause.

    Also, to give the college its due, after two years of lobbying by C.A.T.S., and after we presented a comparison of bike commuting facilities at various other colleges in Oregon, the law school built a bike commuter locker and shower facility. The cost, as I recall, was about $160,000. I think the school deserves a lot of credit for this, even if it was a long time coming.

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  • Andrew Kerr September 24, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Right on Shawn. The turn over in students precludes a lot of communication between leaderships separated by more than a couple years. Last year\’s CATS chair, Dan, kept things alive and we are looking to build on his and your successes. We took poor parking practice into account in surveying the parking situation (again, only on the law campus) and the squeeze is legitimately due to increased bike commuting and not sloppy parking. The cool weather is starting the relieve the crunch but bike commuting is still ubiquitously on the rise and space is tight during peak hours. We\’ll see how that continues once the rain hits. With reduced Trimet service and room on the Raz Trans shuttles reduced to accommodate wheel chairs I predict more bike commuters throughout the winter months. I agree that the capital expended on the locker/shower facility deserves recognition for both the administration and past CATS leadership. Onward and upward!

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  • jami September 25, 2007 at 8:50 am

    i consider full bike parking a nice problem when i\’ve biked downhill to it. lewis and clark, like my old haunt ohsu, is seriously uphill. it\’s not awesome to be exhausted and looking for bike parking, knowing that locking to a sign earns you a nastygram (at best — did they really impound bikes???).

    seeing the phrase \”safe and secure,\” i hope l&c doesn\’t make the mistake ohsu did as it increases parking: getting too fancy. ohsu has some ugly gigantic bike sheds scattered around, to the detriment of people who don\’t want to fill out six forms and get six signatures to get six keys for their various bike parking needs. really, the simplest bike racks are the best. just try to keep \’em out of the rain.

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