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Bike amenities make PDX 9th healthiest airport

Posted by on December 7th, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Roll On Columbia! ride

The main bike path at PDX
leads right into the
terminal (and bike parking).
(Photos © J. Maus)

After a comprehensive analysis of the nation’s major airports, Health magazine and a panel of experts ranked Portland International Airport the ninth “healthiest” in the country.

Not surprisingly, the magazine listed several of the PDX’s bike amenities as reasons for the top ranking. Here’s the first paragraph from the blurb that runs on their website:

Portland doesn’t disappoint with a paved bicycle-and-walking path that links local hotels, businesses, and regional hiking and biking trails to the airport. The airport offers free covered bicycle parking adjacent to the terminal too.

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airport bike parking structure

Bike parking facility near the terminal.

This survey took all health factors into account, but I’m pretty sure if someone ever did a “most bike-friendly airport” ranking, PDX would come out on top.

Not only are they developing a bike-path network around the airport, they’ve got ample parking, they’re in the process of installing a bike assembly area, and they have many bike lovers on their planning staff. Not to mention, PDX has got to be the only airport in the country that has done a major art exhibition of locally made custom bicycles.

Read more about America’s Healthiest Airports here.

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    Ernest December 8, 2008 at 12:02 am

    The path is great until you come upon people parked in the crosswalk parts of the path. I routinely have to chase people out of the crosswalk who are waiting for arriving passengers. I have complained often to the Port of Portland who put up a few A-frames with no parking signs on them and promises that their traffice engineer is looking into a fix. It has been months with no permanent fix. At least there is a path now…an improvement over the old way!

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    Jeff December 8, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Yeah, PDX “wins” a lot of props on a number of grounds, not to mention it was the first west coast airport with light rail direct into the terminal.

    Not having read the article, what exactly is the point and significance of rating airports on “healthiness”? I mean, it’s not like someone’s going to choose their airport on that basis. It seems like a really strange thing for Health magazine to spend their time on. And the world is too full of these stupid rankings and top 10 lists. While PDX planners should be proud, that article sounds just plain silly.

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    mechanic Mark December 8, 2008 at 7:47 am

    What I’d really like to see is secure bike parking. No way would I leave a nice bike parked there for a week. I would even pay a couple of bucks a day for a spot that would keep my bike intact while I was traveling.

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    Rich December 8, 2008 at 8:39 am

    #3 I guess that’s the advantage of a bike un-friendly airport. I occasionaly ride to the Sacramento airport for overnight trips. Since I can pretty much guarantee mine will be the only bike there, it’s not a target for theives. And my bike is locked well enough that it won’t be a target of opportunity.

    Although, if they gave me a locker, you can be sure I’d use it.

    I suspect airports are not going to be installing lockable compartments where one could install, you know, one of those things we never mention while going through security.

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  • […] Bike amenities make PDX 9th healthiest airport, Bike Portland Not surprisingly, the magazine listed several of the PDX’s bike amenities as reasons for the top ranking. […]

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    mechanic Mark December 8, 2008 at 10:44 am

    I don’t buy the terrorist threat as a valid reason to deny bike lockers. I mean, you could pack many more explosives into a car, but they still allow car parking near the terminal.

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    Zaphod December 8, 2008 at 11:10 am

    When I’m on business travel, I roll straight to the terminal and lock my bike with a very serious lock. While my bike is decent, it doesn’t look like much. I’d be happy to pay a few bucks for valet or other more robust locking. I’ve rolled with the Xtra when needing more serious luggage and it gets > 1 lock on it. While I’m not afraid of theft, I am slightly afraid of someone vandalizing or otherwise messing with the bike. What I don’t do is use their dedicated bike parking but instead roll right next to the terminal. This place always has employees, travelers and police around so it’s pretty safe I imagine. A thief would have all the time in the world with the dedicated parking.

    When going through the terminal, I get a 50% hit rate on getting a manual inspection of my bag. The modest multitool gets the 5th degree but is allowed to travel with me. I suspect they fear I’ll disassemble something.

    The new travel model might turn out to be a motivator for bike travel. The expense in checked bags has driven new demand for shipping (UPS or FedEX) luggage. I tried this on a return flight and was able to pull off a standby flight that would not have been possible. With people shipping luggage ahead of them, the ability to travel light on the bike becomes an easier option. By making shipping more cost competitive by charging for bags, they’ve created an interesting opportunity.

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    Rich December 8, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    “I don’t buy the terrorist threat as a valid reason to deny bike lockers. I mean, you could pack many more explosives into a car, but they still allow car parking near the terminal.”

    Hey, I don’t buy the terrorist threat as a valid reason for most of what the TSA does, but that’s just me and most other travellers.

    I ride without my multi-tool for fear of it being confiscated. Waiting at the gate, there was a lady accross from me knitting…

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    Graham December 8, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    The benefits they’re rating must not be all that obvious to me, because I’ve made many trips between Portland and their #1 rated Phoenix, and I always much preferred flying into Portland. And not just because I was coming home! I just really enjoy PDX airport. It’s by far the most relaxing airport I know.

    Detroit also rated better than us, but my one memory of the Detroit airport is walking down the world’s longest, low-ceilinged, windowless hallway. Like a quarter-mile of the dreariest office-park hallway ever. Maybe for the purpose of this rating all that walking counted as healthy.

    I do wish the article had some kind of a chart to break down the comparisons.

    It is nice that cycling is what put us in the top-ten!

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    Todd Boulanger December 9, 2008 at 12:16 am

    I agree with the post asking for the Port to step it up and install on demand smart bike lockers…like eLockers ( – this is a no brainer in security and customer service….and PR (think of this…with two 2 oz. smart cards you could park a bike on both ends of your trip (PDX, BART El Cerrito, San Diego etc. – building on the existing regional BikeLink networks)…and charge for several days of parking!

    Traveling by bike and with bike on about 90% of my air and rail trips…PDX is better than Schiphol (AMS) for bike friendliness (bike parking, path access to the terminal, future repair pit). (Though AMS is better overall than PDX…passport control, shopping, commuter rail service, apple pie with cream, etc.)

    Though I did forget how ahead of the pack PDX is when I went back to Honolulu (HNL) and tried the ‘bike to the airport thing’ for an interisland business trip – I rode up to the airport via the Nimitz path, but then could not find any secure racks near the terminal…so I locked to a sign on the street away from the terminal…I was told there were bike racks on the ‘7th floor of the parking structure’…though this was after my $40 lock was cut, and my friend’s $30 bike impounded though the bomb dogs found no C-4 on the bike!

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    matt picio December 9, 2008 at 2:35 am

    Rich (#8) – Yeah, you got to watch those knitters… 😉

    We have no such thing as transportation security, merely the illusion of transportation security.

    Not to mention the fact that the next aircraft hijacker is going to be jumped by half the plane.

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    Doug Klotz December 9, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    I talked to a TSA employee about the tools ban on planes. They’re actually afraid you’ll take panels off the inside of the plane and mess with wires or tubes inside the walls. (and bring down the plane?) I supposed you’d do this inside the toilet. So, they don’t want to see screwdrivers, pliers, etc., in the cabin. Checking them would be prudent.

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    Sascha Siekmann December 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Yeah, secure biking would be a major plus. I have just recently to bike to PDX and leave my bike there, but I don’t think I would like to leave it there over an extended time, say 10 days or so. The existing bike parking they have is, well – adequate, but not really secure. At least it is sheltered. Given the typical airport customers is not in need of a bike, I think actual theft rates should be low. That’s the reason why I leave my bike there at all.

    I’ll write to the airport authority and ask for secure bike parking. We’ll see what comes out of that.

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