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No more room: Fire Marshall says NAHBS at capacity

Posted by on February 9th, 2008 at 2:56 pm


The crowds here at the Oregon Convention Center have been thick all morning. So thick in fact that City of Portland Fire Marshall Michelle Coefield just told me that they can’t let anyone else in until people begin to leave.

Just after 1:30 or so today Coefield said she was worried that the size of the crowd was getting out of hand. “When we can’t get through the aisles,” she said, “we are forced to close the doors.”

Fire Marshall Coefield estimated that the capacity of the venue was just over 3000 people and that the crowd at around 2:30 was “well over” that figure.

Earlier today, Convention Center staff was threatening to start cutting locks of the hundreds of bikes locked to railings at the building’s entrance. The made announcements over the PA system and posted warning signs that said, “Bikes attached to trees or handrails will be towed” were posted on the main entry doors (see photo below).

According to several witnesses, the Convention Center security personnel weren’t just threatening. “They actually did cut some locks,” said a reader named Jeff. He added,

“This happened after one announcement that could barely be heard over the masses inside…As I stepped outside to check on my bike, a security dude walked over to a bike attached to a handrail and removed the lock with giant bolt cutters. It couldn’t have been more than 5 or 10 minutes after the first (and at that point, only) announcement requesting people to move their bikes.”

After closing the doors to all visitors for about a half-hour, they are now allowing people to trickle in as folks leave. Meanwhile, the line is growing and would-be visitors look miffed.

“I just think they didn’t know how popular it would be,” said Coefield.

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  • a.O February 9, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    towing bikes = douchebag

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  • Jeff TB February 9, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    They actually did cut some locks and remove some bikes. This happened after one anouncement that could barely be heard over the masses inside. I was lucky enough to be in a quieter area near the entrance so I could understand a couple words from the PA. As I stepped outside to check on my bike, a security dude walked over to a bike attached to a handrail and removed the lock with giant bolt cutters. It couldn\’t have been more than 5 or 10 minutes after the first (and at that point, only) announced requesting people to move their bikes.

    It seems that signage and patience is too much to expect.

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  • BURR February 9, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    not enough bike parking = poor event planning

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  • Liz February 9, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    so what can we do about a ticket we purchased ahead of time for today, and now because of the crowds, we can\’t get in?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) February 9, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    \”so what can we do about a ticket we purchased ahead of time for today, and now because of the crowds, we can’t get in?\”

    Liz… they only had the doors closed for a brief time. as the crowds dissipated, they started letting people in again… and an hour or so after I posted this the crowd had thinned out a lot.

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  • tonyt February 9, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    So someone tell me, how one 8.5\”x11\” sheet of paper, on one door of the entire convention center, posted AFTER the show opened is adequate signage.

    THEY don\’t have enough bike parking, so they destroy the locks of the people who had to make do. At a bike show. Classy.

    If establishments have to post signs so they can tow cars, it seems that REAL signs, posted in multiple locations ahead of time, might be a reasonable expectation.

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  • Bjorn February 9, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    #6 it is interesting that in order to legally tow a car in oregon you have to have not only notice that you are going to tow posted but that notice has to include the ORS # of the law. I have a feeling that the law doesn\’t offer the same protections for bikes though…

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  • Brent D February 9, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    I heard at least 3 announcements spaced over around half an hour before they said they cut locks. The announcement also included directions to the proper bike parking. It seems they didn\’t do a good job telling people there was bike parking in the parking garage. The website had the parking info, but I don\’t recall seeing any signs at the show. I wasn\’t looking for bike parking since I took the bus.

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  • Joe February 9, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    wft, great towing bikes..

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  • hanmade February 9, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    I got there at 10:30 and parked my bike in the garage parking reserved for bikes. When I left at 1:30, I could barley get to my bike, it was so overcrowded. I had to carry it out over my head. Also at 10:30, there were huge lines just waiting to get tickets to get in. The definetely did not plan on the poularity of the event here too well, which seems a little foolish considering THIS IS PORTLAND, NAHBS.

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  • Jeff TB February 9, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Not true Brent D. I checked on my bike after the first announcement. Immediatly after moving my bike, they started cutting. I went inside and asked one of the NAHBS people (the guy in the yellow hat)to repeat the announment because OCC security was in the process of cutting locks. He seemed surprised. His next announcement requested people move their bikes and added (for the first time I believe) that locks would be cut.

    It was really tough to hear the PA over the crowd. Seems like more time should have been given.

    Also, people hear the PA in the seminar rooms?

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  • tonyt February 9, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I was in a seminar room at the time and heard absolutely nothing. Not a peep.

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  • scabbard February 9, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    maybe they should have just let everyone in and let them ride around the expo floors like the hipster/fixie dudes who crashed the industry/trade show yesterday and got into an hassle with event security.

    maybe that is why they were on such a short leash today. unfortunate, but a few bad apples might have set the tone.

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  • Metal Cowboy February 9, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I was there for four hours, while all this was going on I might add, and heard no PA announcements. Granted, I was distracted by the sweet frames and Craig Calfee regaling me with stories about his youth, cycling adventures in Africa, but three announcements about bike locks cut and towing I think I would have caught. All this has a silver lining… it shows the general public attending the other events at the center that cycling is popular and growing by the day in this city, and hopefully it sinks in for the oreganizers to expand bike parking tomorrow and for future bike events held there. I was grinning ear to ear waiting for other folks to find their bikes in the parking garage – for a moment I day dreamed that this is how the world could be – so many bikes that there would always open slots all over the garage for CARS… and those slots would go wanting…

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  • Klixi February 9, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    As if they could not have made an exception for one day to allow people to lock their bikes to trees and railings.

    Cutting locks of bikes at a bike show..

    This is like something from The Onion.

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  • Paul February 10, 2008 at 9:26 am

    I think they just needed to advertise the parking garage option better, I came in and was amazed at all the bikes locked to everything on the street. Then one of the volunteers noticed my grimaced look and told me about the parking. It was great, especially because I was towing the little one and had to lock the trailer up too. Just rolled in and they took care of me.

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  • Steve February 10, 2008 at 11:39 am

    No doubt that the bike parking was poorly advertised (I found staff to point it out) initially but I did hear at least 2 annoucements letting people know to move their bikes and where the parking was…I don\’t know when the lock cutting actually started though and the bike parking would have been completely overrun if not for folks using other places. Goes to show the popularity of the show and gives good reason to bring it back soon though.

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  • DaveA February 10, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I recently went to city hall and was amazed at the lack of bike parking there. I was also surprised at the lack of bike parking at the convention center for a show like this. Someone should be making bike parking a bit more accessible and visible… However, I took MAX to the show and didn\’t have to worry about my bike…

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  • lodave February 10, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    This bike parking snafu should also be blamed on the organizers of the NAHBS! It\’s a BIKE show. People might actually ride bikes to the show [DOH!] and need a well-publicized, well-directed and convenient place to securely park them! There are six Exhibit Halls and two Ballrooms in that facility, I\’d doubt they were all in use. A bunch of bike racks in an open garage is hardly secure.
    The entrance fee was $2 less than San Jose, CA last year. They could have charged the same and used the money to rent additional space, (Or just charged two bucks for secure parking!), staffed it with security and check-persons, and thus easily have solved the entire problem before it ever happened.
    True, the signage was totally absurd and inadequate, so a few Small Claims Court cases for damages to personal property might be in order. BTW, Announcements over a P/A system don\’t work for the hearing impaired!

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