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New temporary bike racks get their first real test

Posted by on March 28th, 2008 at 11:28 am

At yesterday’s press event to “celebrate” Portland’s new bike boxes, Jeff Castro gave his new BikeRacker product its first real test.

The BikeRacker in action.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Castro is looking to tap into Portland’s fertile market for bike parking. It’s a well-known fact that even though PDOT is trying hard to keep up, there is a significant lack of bike parking in this town — and that’s where BikeRacker will (hopefully) come in. Castro sees a niche in coming to the aid of business owners and event planners that don’t have enough existing capacity for their bike riding customers.

BikeRacker debut-2.jpg

Castro got a perfect chance to debut one of his racks at an event yesterday. Not only could he guarantee a big bike crowd, but the people that showed up — like Metro Councilor and BTA co-founder Rex Burkholder, City bicycle coordinator Roger Geller, bike planning expert Mia Birk, etc… — just so happened to be steeped in knowledge of such things.

Castro was thrilled at their feedback and said, “Overall, there was lots of great support for the rack.” Castro told me the crowd especially appreciated the modular nature and simple design that led most users to “get” how to use it without confusion.

One major lesson learned by Castro is that if he wants to put his temporary rack on the roadway (taking up a motor vehicle space), he has to work with PDOT to get the proper permits.

BikeRacker debut-4.jpg BikeRacker debut-3.jpg BikeRacker debut-1.jpg

Next steps for Castro will be to attend more events to get additional feedback. He’s also got a lot of work to do. “I’ve got to build, build build,” he commented, and then added, “Based on that event, I think I’ve got a viable thing here.”

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  • Toby March 28, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Hanging off the nose of the saddle is clever (assuming that will put the front wheel and downtube next to the leg of the rack – for locking – on most frames), but I wonder how many people are riding frames that are too big, and thus won\’t be showing enough seatpost to do it.

    Also, am I paranoid, or wouldn\’t it make sense to add a few big eyebolts to chain the whole rack to something permanent?

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  • Scott Mizée March 28, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    […]wouldn\’t it make sense to add a few big eye bolts to chain the whole rack to something permanent?
    I think the idea is that these would be used at events where there are a fair number of people around. Thus, the likelihood of someone absconding with the whole rack is not very high.

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  • Dag March 28, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I\’m still not sure I understand how locking to that rack is at all secure, since it appears that a lock could be slipped under the feet pretty easily.

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  • Tako March 28, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    This is the same sort of rack that you see outside of some bike shops in Japan. They don\’t lock very often there, so I don\’t think they are really meant for locking to, but it\’s a lot better than \”free-locking.\”

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  • Austin Ramsland March 28, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    If these are temporary, is he planning on charging for the racks or for the service?

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  • Jeff Castro March 28, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Hello guys,
    I have been working on different strategies for incoporating a security chain/cable to attach the rack to a immovable object. There is value in adding that extra bit of security to help ease users concerns about the safety of their bicycles.

    Also, this rack is still my initial prototype that is lacking the extra security loop on each leg that will prohibit the tipping of the rack/sliding the lock off security concern. I will be retrofitting this rack, and all other racks currently in process will have this feature. For this event, I monitored the bicycles personally to insure we wouldn\’t have any issues…

    Thanks again for the thoughts.


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  • Dag March 28, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I guess you also need recourse in the event that someone locks their bike to your rack and fails to pick it up before you need to tear down the rack. Ideally that wouldn\’t involve cutting the lock.

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  • Andy B from Jersey March 28, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    That\’s an excellent point Dag. That\’s an extra reason why I think this event / overflow bike parking should be a valet service. That\’s how it is anyplace else I\’ve seen special event bike parking.

    Then again a system could be setup to have the bicyclist lock his bike to a special loop on the portable rack that could then be unlocked by the rack owner.

    Good luck Jeff with your endeavor.

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  • Donna March 28, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    The Cirque du Soleil could really use one of those racks. The bike parking there is awful!

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  • Nick March 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    \”The Cirque du Soleil could really use one of those racks. The bike parking there is awful!\”

    Wait, you mean those people on bikes can afford Cirque? Just kidding of course, but I wonder if that is about how much they really care about cyclists. Also, they aren\’t from Portland, so they may not be as bike friendly as our businesses.

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  • Opus the Poet March 30, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    I don\’t see anything there for the recumbent crowd. How are we supposed to kock up to that?


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  • Hilton Meyer March 31, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Great idea. Good luck getting this project off the ground. Anything to encourage people onto saddles is never a bad idea. I especially like the Cirque du Soleil idea to help the clowns keep their act together:)

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  • Ryan J March 31, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Whew! Nice Rack!

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  • rye April 2, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Upward pressure on a saddle is ill advised. brooks especially are made only for downward pressure.

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  • Icarus Falling April 2, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Still wondering how these are supposed to work in a sidewalk application, as they look like they would take up much more of the sidewalk space than is normally allowed, let alone under special permitted uses.

    As cyclists, and humans, we are also responsible for safe passage of the elderly, the handicapped, and anyone else using a sidewalk…

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  • Jeff Castro April 3, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Please let me try and respond to a few recent comments.

    First, unfortunately this rack design is not compatible for recumbent applications. The only feasible way might be to slide under the crossbar and lean against the leg support. Unfortunately, I don\’t have anything to back this up, but will make an effort to investigate.

    Second, all cycling saddles have a structural member to which the seatpost is attached, and it is my belief that this structure can provide ample support of the weight of most bicycles per this application. I understand that there are perhaps exceptions to this, and I can fully appreciate the concern.

    Lastly, sidewalk applications will be assessed per situation, and at no time will safety or right of way of pedestrians be compromised. For this event, our primary focus was the vehicle parking spot. With the help and guidance of the PDOT representative, it was moved up onto the sidewalk taking specific care and caution to position the rack to comply with pedestrian right of way. This location does have the benefit of generous sidewalks, and I know that most sidewalks are challenged for space.

    Thanks for your continued feedback and insight.


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