Special gravel coverage

Double decker bike parking coming to PSU

Posted by on March 31st, 2009 at 4:52 pm

psu rack off

Testing out the Josta rack
(Photos © Elly Blue)

Yesterday morning I headed over to the Portland State University campus to check out the four different double-decker bike racks the university is considering for two soon to be constructed secure on-campus bike parking garages.

The racks will be set up daily through this Friday from 10am to 3pm at SW Broadway and Montgomery. Members of the public are invited to come try out the racks with their own bikes, or with a sample bike at the site, ask questions, and fill out a survey ranking each of the four racks in intuitiveness, function, security, and appearance.

Each of the four racks — by three different companies, two American and one German — holds between three and six bikes, with varying footprints and functionality, and cost between $100 and $500$550 per bike parked.

Josta is an established German company that sets the gold standard for stacked bike parking structures. They provide racks for many of the legendary big Dutch bike parking garages, and for BikeStation facilities in the United States.

The Josta rack on display at PSU has two different setups to try on its upper deck. An older version has an ingenious rear wheel clamp and a loop that you can rotate and lock various parts of your bike to. The newer version has a hydraulic assist and a more streamlined design. Both upper-level racks have an “articulated” design, which means that the rack itself slides down at an angle to help you lift your bike. I found both fairly easy to use and lift, though the newer version is simpler and lighter.

psu rack off

PSU’s Ian Stude struggles with the
Saris articulated rack

Two different racks are on display from Saris, a Wisconsin-based company that has heretofore focused on making racks that mount your bike to your car. The first major implementation of their racks is currently under construction in Toronto.

Saris’s articulated rack is similar to the Josta design. I wasn’t able to use the upper level racks at all, as the hook that holds your front tire and prevents your bike from falling on top of you as you lift the articulated portion of the rack is incompatible with my smaller-than-average 26″ wheels.

psu rack off

Static two-tier rack by Saris

Saris also makes a “static” design, which has six simple spaces and provides no mechanical assist for lifting your bike up to the top deck. You hoist the bike yourself, get the front wheel positioned in the groove, and roll it in. Being in the ballpark of five feet tall I could not use the upper deck of this model without getting seriously down and dirty with my drivetrain.

The static rack takes up the least space of all options and is by far the cheapest of the lot, coming in at about $100/bike parked (comparable to the cost of staple racks).

The flashiest looking rack is made by a new player on the scene, the Minneapolis-based Dero. Owner Rolf Scholtz was on hand to check out the competition and to take video footage of how people used his creation for use in future revisions. I found this rack to be easiest to use — you tip your bike nearly upright and hang it on a hook, much as though you were riding the MAX, then grab the well-placed grips and hoist it gently up without too much effort.

Story continues below


psu rack off

Testing the Dero’s stability — it had a wobble.

When I got my bike down the chain had been knocked off the front derailleur by the bar on the right. “We’ll be fixing that,” Scholtz said, drawing an outline in the air for a new bar placement.

The racks will be used in two secure bike parking projects. Both will be available for members of the PSU community who purchase a membership and will have 24/7 keycard access. Both will have double-decker facilities of one of the types on display this week.

One facility will be part of or adjacent to the renovated PSU Bike Coop, between 5th and 6th Aves on Harrison. The Bike Coop currently has about 30 bike parking spaces for day use only behind a cyclone fence.

The second structure will be at the campus’s northern entrance, on the pedestrian-only portion of Montgomery between 11th and 12th.

Ian Stude, PSU’s Transportation Options manager, says that “the need for bike parking has exceeded the capacity of staple racks” at PSU. His goal is to have at least 100 bikes parked in each new structure.

Stude says that community feedback as well as the racks’ relative costs and footprints will all play into the decision of which one to buy.

But whatever the outcome, there is definitely a demand. While I was testing the racks, a student came up to the survey table and asked “So I can just park here for today?” Sorry, he was told, we need the spaces to stay open so everyone else can try them out.

Approximate costs (calculated per bike parked, not per rack):
Josta: $400$550
Saris (articulated): $275
Saris (static): $100
Dero: $400

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  • Hart March 31, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    The thing you lock your bike to shouldn’t cost more than your bike.

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  • beth h March 31, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Or if it does, it should be secure enough to prevent theft.

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  • Hart March 31, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Yeah, the top and bottom one look strong, but that middle black one looks like the whole thing could be dragged away.

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  • DE March 31, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Elly, did you learn the costs for the Josta, Dero and 2nd Saris racks? You should include those for a fair comparison.

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  • Gabriel McGover March 31, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    As a PSU alumni, I know that the amount of bikes can be daunting when trying to lock up on a busy day. But, why not just vertical hooks + lock up points? Works in my garage to neatly stack 8 bikes in a minimal space.

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  • Elly Blue March 31, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    DE, I added the costs at the end of the story. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

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  • Amos March 31, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    The static Saris appears to have only 5 spaces, not 6. Makes sense since it would be hard to load a top middle.

    how about a mix? static racks for those capable, and articulated for those who need a hand.

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  • Elly Blue March 31, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Amos, there is a top middle space — it’s higher than the others. Not sure how tall you’d need to be to get up into that one.

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  • Amos March 31, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    ahh… I see it now. This one reminds me of what they use in bike shops, and that seems to work for them.

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  • Matthew Denton March 31, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Hart #1: I think the same thing about car parking. Unfortunately, even simple surface parking lots in Suburbia run $5000+ per space, (which is more than a lot of people’s cars are worth used,) but when you start looking at parking garages, above ground start at around $20,000, and below ground start at $30,000, which is more than a lot of cars cost new. (I’ve heard, for instance, that PB5 ran about $50,000/space.)

    As such, a couple hundred on bike parking isn’t exactly out of the question…

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  • Ian Stude March 31, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Thanks, Elly, for stopping by and sampling the demonstration racks. We are really excited to get feedback from the PSU Community about how these units function and their overall worthiness and usefulness as a form of campus bike parking.

    About the associated costs, I just want to mention that because these racks are currently being considered for indoor use, it would be best to evaluate them as a portion of a total project cost. For example: Our Montgomery St bike shelter is estimated to cost $150,000. This shelter could accommodate max 30 standard racks at $100 per rack for a total of 60 bikes for $3000. Total project = $153,000. Using the Saris model as a further example, we could fit 96 bikes in the same space at a cost of $275 per bike which comes to $26,400, for a total project cost of $176,400. The difference in total project cost is 15% but in return we get 60% more bike spaces.

    Does that make it worthwhile? We shall see. But for now, we are extremely happy to be testing the racks in Portland and providing yet another ‘laboratory’ experience for the city and the region. Many many thanks to Dero, Saris, and Josta (via BikeStation) for their willingness to help make this happen.

    Please stop by and give us your first hand feedback!

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  • Dutch March 31, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    when I read the headline I was thinking they were making racks designed for tall bikes. Hah!

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  • Look! Shiney! March 31, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    How many students does it take to calculate that replacing $30 bike staples with racks that cost between $100 and $400 each is a sub-prime deal?

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  • Todd Boulanger March 31, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Elly thanks for covering this important event – the first time in the US all three racks have field tested rack to rack by a lay audience. I will be attending Thursday’s event.

    The Bikestation and many transit agencies the world over have had very good experience with Josta inside and out in all weather conditions. It is very common to see several hundred if not thousands of bi level Josta racks uncovered outside in station parking lots.

    For your readers – it is a bit unfair to compare the static Saris rack to the other racks. As this simple rack is for use only in shops or very secure low threat garage rooms.

    The Josta rack at PSU is a small demonstration unit showing each type of rack type – it normally comes in 8 or 10 space configurations.

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  • Todd Boulanger March 31, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    The prime reason to use bi level racks is to provide a lot of parking in a very small area where space is at a premium. .

    This is most important in structured garages when each bike space for a staple rack layout costs up to $5000 without the rack. By adding a bi level rack your space costs are cut in half. Your overall cost per parking stall for the Dero rack would be about $3000 vs $5100 as an example.

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  • mahkmahkmark April 1, 2009 at 12:44 am

    Thank Gawd! I ride two, sometimes three bikes to class. A lot of the time I feel like I’m taking too much room. Not anymore!

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  • Seager April 1, 2009 at 7:15 am

    What about people with long bikes like Xtracycles or Madsens? It looks like they wouldn’t fit on the top rack and might be crushed if on the bottom by the hydraulics of some of the racks.

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  • joel April 1, 2009 at 9:21 am

    i hope these racks allow a ulock for the frame without one carrying a chain lock around, it looks like a mini ulock will not work, i wonder why and how these racks could be made so that a small ulock would work? makes me want to bike over and check these out.

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  • Hart April 1, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I ride two, sometimes three bikes to class.

    Yeah? How you pullin’ this off?

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  • Ian Stude April 1, 2009 at 9:40 am

    In case you can’t make it down to PSU to test these racks in person, you can see them in action here:


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  • El Biciclero April 1, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I think I would hate to park on the “bottom bunk” on a rainy day…

    “Per bike parked”, these don’t seem that much more expensive than the new SS racks on the transit mall.

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  • Hart April 1, 2009 at 10:12 am


    I like how the corporate news anchor lady pronounces the work ‘bike’ like it’s a foreign language to her, which it probably is.

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  • Travis Wittwer April 1, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Elly, great post. I appreciate the information. Installing bike racks, although not glamorous, is a thoughtful process. This process is one of selection and implementation. Sort of like micro-city planning. I am glad that PSU is thinking this out and hope to hear more about the racks as the decision is made.

    I am also curious about how the cost/use/ease of use will play out in the future for these racks verses a staple.

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  • DE April 1, 2009 at 11:07 am

    “”Per bike parked”, these don’t seem that much more expensive than the new SS racks on the transit mall.”

    Did you do the math? The t-mall racks are about $367 each, and park two bikes [or $184/bike]. So the Saris static is cheaper, but the others are 49% and 117% more expensive than the mall rack. I don’t know what your definition of “that much more expensive,” but I would say that given the uproar here about $187 per bike parked, we should be similarly outraged at $275 and $400.

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  • jv April 1, 2009 at 11:19 am

    While I know that I will never use, and am not paying for these racks, they look to be an overengineered waste of money. If bike parking space is at a premium, then just have vertical hanging racks- like the max- with an integrated locking attachment. We have these at my workplace and easily store 40+ bikes in a small room. An articulated “double decker” just seems like too many moving parts and complexity for a simple problem.

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  • spiny norman April 1, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Doesn’t work with MTB wheels? Can’t actually lock both wheels and the frame to anything secure with a U lock? Is that flimsy cable on the bottom space of the saris what you’re actually expected to lock to? What expensive lumps of junk.

    Actually scratch that first complaint, if it’s 700C only it’d be like having reserved parking for my road bike.

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  • Val April 1, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    So, do they work for double decker bikes?

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  • Scott Caldwell April 1, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    The Portland State bike co-op is doing a great service by having a demonstration that allows for public comment, which should influence their decision about choosing a parking rack. If you have a comment or concern about the racks, go try them out and fill out a survey. Please don’t judge them by looking at pictures online, especially if you have not tried one out.

    As for the intended use, why not give bike parking infrastructure a fraction of the attention and money that automobile parking gets? Have you ever priced out a car parking spot in a multi-story garage? The fact here is that there are innovative companies making products in the USA, keeping people employed, and helping to make cycling better for those who do choose to ride. As a former PSU undergrad & grad student, I am glad to see the school making capital investments this way.

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  • Travis Wittwer April 1, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    @Scott Caldwell, agreed. It is especially nice that the racks are there for trial. I will stop on by and try them out. I happen to like bike racks. For me, they are an indicator species that is indicative of a larger growth of change in the city. Interest in bike racks is interest in biking because if people are paying attention to the least glamorous aspect of biking, then biking has captured the greater interest of the city. Good.

    For a geek-science look at bike racks, I have posted on the following, http://www.ecometro.com/community/blogs/portland_go/archive/2009/03/10/hunting-for-rare-bike-racks-in-wild-creatures-of-north.aspx

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  • amanda April 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I worked on a project with an indoor bike parking area and spent a lot of time working on getting as many bike locking spots as possible. I also looked at these double decker system and ultimately decided against them. I ended up doing a combo of floor-mounted and vertical-mounted racks from Dero. Dero has a different kind of wall-mounted rack that seems to hold your whole front wheel and not just a peg which could damage your rim. It’s also easy to lock your frame to it. But, it was really important to us that we have regular floor mount racks available. One of my bikes is easy to lift onto a vertical but the other one with the fenders and pannier rack is heavier and I’d be less likely to use a wall-mount. Also, having the floor mount option is good.

    It sounds like a lot of the commenters here haven’t done much serious study of bike parking in a garage issues. I’ll be biking over there Friday to check these out – while they are expensive, there are good reasons to use them if you want to appeal to a broad range of cyclists. I’m guessing that this is just one kind of bike parking that PSU is implementing.

    Sadly, I never got to try out my Dero dream bike parking area as the project is on indefinite hold. Which is why I am typing this from home in the middle of the day. 😀

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  • Dave April 1, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    There are some of these hanging bike racks near the OHSU Center for Health and Healing, and I can imagine that I would have a pretty hard time getting my 40lb city bike with panniers on them reliably.

    I think, while having the racks as shown above may technically be “excessive” – if you want to encourage *anyone* to be able to use the bike parking, use it safely, and reliably, something where you don’t have to heave your bike up into the air is a good solution, as there are certainly some people even riding light racing bikes who either won’t be able to or will choose not to use a solution they have to lift their bikes up for.

    Sometimes a little extra cost is worth it to make it accessible to anyone who may have reason to use it. Just because you don’t have a problem heaving your bike over your head doesn’t mean nobody else will.

    Also, I agree with Scott and Travis – we (as a city and a country) bend over backwards to make things convenient for cars, why not turn the tables a bit?

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  • Machu Picchu April 1, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Good job promoting bike commuting and storage/parking, so take the following as food for thought only: If the space above the bike parked on the deck has to be used to reduce the cost per unit stored, why not use it to store something a bit easier to get off the deck?

    Example: I don’t like bending over to grab heavy pots and pans, so I store them hanging from the ceiling. I reach up to hang them and retrieve them, but they’re not heavy or ungainly like a bike. Conversely, I don’t like hoisting any of my bikes regardless of weight, I like to roll them to a spot and park em. So what do we substitute for pots and pans? Bikes roll in on the ground, and PSU traffic control devices are stored above, maybe? Surely something needs a dry home that is not a bike. Ideas?

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  • Jeff Bernards April 1, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Why not take a couple parking spots in each of the parking structures and put in a safe & inexpensive rack, maybe just hanging a few with hooks, would make more space too. Place it near the ticket booth so someone can keep an eye on the bikes. They would be covered and out of the rain so you could sort out your gear before heading to class. Seems alot cheaper? Just a thought since PSU employees are currently taking unpaid days off, to save money.

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  • Todd Boulanger April 2, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Since many of the commentors are talking about wall racks…

    …wall racks are great for areas with wall space (not all bike parking areas have this automatically at hand already provided at someone else’s expense or in enough quantity to park 100s of bikes)…

    …our office has had very good luck (and U lock security) with the Creative Pipe WH-1 wall racks – see link:

    The photo is from PNCA across from REI.

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  • SkidMark April 2, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    You can literally have acres of auto parking, but you have to stack bicycles? Someone wannna give me a hand getting my 1952 Schwinn up there?

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  • JayS. April 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

    They stack parked cars all over the city. Above ground and below ground parking.

    I also wonder about long tails, tandems, bikes with trailers, etc. Unusual shaped bikes are becoming common. So far none of the new parking ideas seem to take that into consideration.

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  • She April 3, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I went down to PSU and tried them. The Josta is definitely the best and the Dero is next. The one concern with the Dero is – how long will the dampening mechanism last that allows a person to pull the rack and let it drop (it goes down nice and slowly). I could see going out to get your bike and one time it slips and crashes down.

    The Josta seems it has been the one with long term testing on its durability.

    Thanks to the City and PSU for having the demonstration racks to check out!

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  • skodt April 3, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    @ SkidMark–yes, the racks will give you that hand you wish for–the whole point of the articulated/assist upper level is to take much of the weight OFF your hands

    @ JayS–seen the PSU staple racks lately?? yes, long bikes, trailers, etc. are catching on, but over 90% of the bikes on campus are good old fashion adult two-wheelers.

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