Widmer Brothers Brewing is well-known for their Hefeweizen beer and for being one of the nation’s pioneering craft brewers. But perhaps less well known is their commitment to the growing number of their 150 Portland employees who ride their bikes to work.
At their North Portland headquarters (on Russell Street off of N. Interstate Ave), Widmer just finished up a major expansion project. Along with more beer storage space, offices, and keg-filling capacity, they also added an entire building devoted to bike parking.
When I asked about the building in the main office, the man behind the desk said, “Talk to Rob (as in, co-founder Rob Widmer), he’s the bike guy.” So I met Rob at the facility today for a chat and a tour.
Rob told me he rides his bike to work about “100 times a year” from Johns Landing (five miles away). You might remember when he and his brother Kurt dueled for modal supremacy during Bike Month back in April.
As Rob keyed his way into the spacious, secured facility he said they added it because they had, “outgrown” their other racks. “We’ve got a great bike culture here.”
During their last commuting survey, Widmer counted 26 employees who biked three or more days to work.
The new facility — which cost Widmer about $25,000 and can hold 50-60 bikes– was created in an existing building directly across from their newly built offices. Rob said the building used to be used for storage. “This room just had a bunch of junk in it, so we got rid of the junk and made this space just for bikes.”
In addition to racks, the room has plenty of lockers. Widmer also provides showers in a separate building.
Rob said the company is a regular participant in the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge and he’s looking forward to taking advantage of the new bike commuter tax benefit that was recently passed by Congress. “That’s huge,” he said (he knew about it without me even bringing it up). Rob plans to sit down with his CFO and make sure the company takes full advantage.
Widmer employees aren’t the only ones who will benefit from better bike facilities. In the next few months, Rob says the City of Portland plans to install a new, on-street bike corral in front of their Gasthaus brewpub near the corner of N Russell and Interstate.
Rob said the managers at their restaurant, “were pumped up” about the idea of on-street bike parking. He also added that he’ll plan to do a food/beer special for anyone who shows up by bike once the corral is installed.
That would be a great idea, I told him, because the Widmer Gausthas is right at the base of the dreaded Interstate Ave. hill that many bike commuters tackle with reluctance every day. What better place to stop in for a bite to eat?
— Check out more photos of the new employee bike parking facility at Widmer Brewery in the BikePortland Photo Gallery.