Today, crews from the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation installed 27 new staple racks at the corner of NW 13th and NW Johnson in the Pearl District. The new racks — located adjacent to the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) — were drilled into place in the former location of three automobile parking spaces. When students return to class next week, there will be space for 54 bikes in this new parking area (not to mention many other racks nearby).
The project is being paid for out of PBOT’s bike parking fund, and it is one of four “bike corrals” Mayor Adams has promised to roll out in his first 100 days in office.
This is the largest bike corral in the city and it was pushed as a priority by the Dean of Students at PNCA, Michael Hall. Hall is no stranger to bike issues. In October of 2007, following the tragic biking deaths of a current and former student just 10 days apart, he helped bring the PNCA community together. He also became the school’s internal bike advocate.
Since 2007, Hall has set up partnerships with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, outdoor goods retailer REI, and Providence Hospital. The BTA holds commuting clinics at PNCA, Hall has worked with REI to offer reduced priced bike lights to students, faculty and staff, and he has partnered with the Trauma Nurses Talk Tough group at Providence Hospital to make $5 helmets available to everyone at the school.
This morning, Hall stood with a silent smile as crews drilled into the pavement and laid out the new racks. “I started working on this back in September,” Hall said, “that’s when I noticed there wasn’t enough places for students to park.”
Hall estimates that about one-third of PNCA commuters get there by bike. He has counted 80 bikes parked outside the school when class is in session. To accomodate that demand, Hall said he wanted bike racks to fill three additional parking spaces on NW 13th (to bring the total to four). PBOT countered that they’d rather give him two car spaces for now, and then they’ll consider expanding if the demand is warranted (the spaces are metered).
With all the bike commuters, Hall has good reason to make sure they have a place to park. He also has reason to do what he can to keep them safe. For some reason it seems PNCA bike commuters have a disproportionate amount of bike crashes.
On the phone will Hall the other day, I mentioned how great it was to talk with him about good news for a change.
In addition to the extreme tragedy that befell the school in 2007, Asha Whittle — the woman whose collision we reported earlier this month — is also a PNCA student. When I brought this up to Hall, he rattled off several other stories of crashes involving students in the past few months.
Hall’s next effort is to build a roof over the new parking spaces. It would be done as a memorial to Tracey Sparling and Brett Jarolimek. I hope I have nothing but good news to report from PNCA in the meantime.