awaiting an on-street bike corral
(notice the paint marks on the road).
(Photos © J. Maus)
PDOT crews have prepped the road for the new on-street bike racks (known as a “bike corral”) in front of the non-profit Ethos Music Center on the corner of N. Killingsworth and N. Williams.
Ethos’ founder and City Commissioner candidate, Charles Lewis requested the bike corral at this location two years ago and has worked hard to make it a reality. “We have had a big problem with the lack of bike parking here,” he said, “and it will be great to get this new corral.”
But the new parking is stalled while PDOT comes up with an improved design for the structure.
PDOT has installed five bike corrals throughout the city (two on SE Belmont and three on/near N. Mississippi Ave.) since September of 2004, but according to Sarah Figliozzi, a bike parking specialist for PDOT, no more will be completed until a new design is completed.
The problem with the current design is the curb and border around the staple racks. Current corrals feature a border made up of a rubber curb and flexible, reflective, “candlestick” bollards placed every
six 24 inches or so (see photo at right). PDOT is searching for a new material for that rubber curb that meets their engineering, function, and safety standards.
The current configuration also leaves a lot to be desired aesthetically, not just from PDOT’s point of view, but from business owners as well.
Bryan Steelman, owner of Por Que No Taqueria on N. Mississippi, took it upon himself to remove several of the flexible bollards from the bike corral in front of his business (which hasn’t won him any friends at PDOT). Steelman says he hopes to decorate the remaining bollards to help ease the visual pain.
Belmont neighborhood activist Greg Raisman (also former bike parking czar for PDOT) has launched a bike corral beautification plan of his own. He is collaborating with local artists to embellish the existing staple racks and hopes they take the form of flowers.
Back in April, Figliozzi attended a design conference where attendees tried to figure out the corral problem. Their ideas included integrating plants and other organic materials into the corrals, various artistic approaches to the bollards, raising the corrals up off the street level, and using lighting to improve aesthetics and security.
Figliozzi says she’s also collaborated with the Art Institute of Portland on a five-week design course focused on the bike corrals.
She says PDOT is seeking a solution that has “a cleaner design” for the border and yet still meets all engineering and safety requirements. Their efforts have focused on using immovable bollards, but those present problems of their own. Placing immovable objects in the public right-of-way that could cause serious harm in a collision is something PDOT obviously wants to avoid.
lie in wait at a PDOT facilities yard
(photographed through a chain-link fence).
Other issues that complicate the corrals are access and maintenance. The corrals must be easily accessible by bike parkers (which can be tough when entering from the roadway is not allowed due to safety concerns and when cafes have tables on the sidewalk), and they must be relatively easy to maintain (a responsibility that falls on the adjacent businesses).
According to a map provided by PDOT, at least 24 other businesses and neighborhood groups have requested bike corrals, but Figliozzi says only the one in front of Ethos is being hung up by this design issue.
As for the paint marks on the ground? “They’re just getting ready,” says Figliozzi, “so once we get the design figured out [which she said should be very soon] they can get it installed right away.”