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.
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.
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.
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):
Saris (articulated): $275
Saris (static): $100
Elly Blue has been writing about bicycling and carfree issues for BikePortland.org since 2006. Find her at http://takingthelane.com