Splendid Cycles

Say hello to surreys and a new traffic mix in Waterfront Park

Posted by on April 17th, 2009 at 11:16 am

New surreys for rent in Waterfront park-102

Kerr Bikes manager Will Armistead
and one of his double surreys.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Traffic on the busy riverfront path in Waterfront Park will soon feature several new types of pedal-powered vehicles.

Yesterday I learned more about a new bike rental business that will be based inside the former McCall’s Restaurant building just south of the Salmon Street Fountain.

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The new shop will be called Kerr Bikes and it will be run by the Albertina Kerr Foundation, a non-profit that supports youth and families with mental health challenges and children and adults with developmental disabilities.

New surreys for rent in Waterfront park-103

Will Armistead will manage the shop. He told me yesterday that they’re set to open for business on May 2nd and will have a grand opening event in June. They’ll offer seven different types of bikes, with names like “Quad Sport”, “Deuce Coupe”, “Double Surrey” and “Slingshot” (see them below). The Double Surrey I saw yesterday comes complete with a tasseled canopy, two steering wheels, and a car-like shift-lever that operates the brakes.

It should make for an even more interesting mix of traffic not just in Waterfront Park, but all around the area. Can you imagine six tourists piled into a double-surrey trying to pedal around downtown!? Not sure if there will be strict limits about where these wheeled-vehicle will be allowed to operate (how about one of these coming across the Hawthorne Bridge?), but I can foresee some interesting traffic encounters.

Here’s a look at the types of vehicles to be offered:

(Image: KerrBikes.org)

— Learn more at KerrBikes.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Jessica Roberts April 17, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I like this idea, but…there’s no room for these, right? Especially on the Steel Bridge deck…can you imagine two of these coming at each other?

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  • Jesse April 17, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Any bets how long it takes before we have reports of Surrey on pedestrian violence?

    Typically these things are seen in the low traffic areas of tourist towns like Seaside. I have a hard time imagining them roaming the streets and sidewalks of Portland

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  • steve April 17, 2009 at 11:42 am

    One more fantastic reason to not ride a bicycle on a sidewalk.

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  • Bill April 17, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Maybe they should rent simple bikes, two wheels, like the Paris Bike-share ones that have been in talked about in earlier reports:

    Some of these Paris bikes are at the Jupiter Hotel and The Bike Exchange, they have a tourist vibe without crowding the walkways.

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  • Nick April 17, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    $30/hr seems strange when Zipcar is $10/hr for a freakin’ car, including gas and insurance and all the maintenance they require and the infrastructure required to support cars scattered all over the place.

    I guess tourists aren’t so cost-conscious?

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  • Barb April 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Yeaaah, there is not room for these on the waterfront. Anyone know if the city has an opinion or any say on this?

    I run the waterfront park loop quite often, and I think they need to paint lanes for cyclists and pedestrians. I actually got “rear-ended” by a cyclist while I was running yesterday – ouch!

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  • kgb April 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    At least it supports a good cause beyond that…

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  • Andy B from Jersey April 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Hmmm… We see these things on the Jersey Boardwalks all the time. They only go 5 to 8mph max.

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  • carlos April 17, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I wish nothing but good fortune to this new business. Unfortunately this means any use of the waterfront for commuter reasons is null and void during summer months. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like come rose fest time?

    Bill, a company does rent regular bikes on the waterfront. Can’t recall the name now but they are on the SW end of the path.

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  • Mike April 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    How about bike-RV’s with futons, a port-a-potty and a card table?

    Or bike-aircraft-carriers, where you could haul other bikes around with a trailer of those fancy new PSU double-decker bike racks?

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  • ignatz April 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Carlos 8:
    That’s Waterfront Bicycle Rentals

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  • RyNO Dan April 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    These things are too big to be on the congested waterfront park path. I don’t care if they’re “pedal powered”. Pigging up the space resources by wealthy tourists ? Or maybe not.

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  • Jason B April 17, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Rent a couple of those double jobbies for Critical Mass

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  • BicycleDave April 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I wonder what they’ll do with the old McCall’s Restaurant building next?

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  • Glen B April 17, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Yuck! Are we a tourist town? The last thing I want to see on the waterfront is a couple of people trying to race each other on the ‘sling shots’ along the waterfront knocking over strollers and cutting off bike traffic.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 17, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    this really makes me even more disappointed that the City didn’t seize the opportunity to make a separated bikeway facility in Waterfront Park as part of the recent Naito Parkway re-design.

    With the Waterfront Path now being even less of a commute option, we’re now only left with a few feet of a bike lane on a high-speed street. bummer.

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  • redhippie April 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I would give the new buisness the opportunity to set up some good guidelines and train their customers. Otherwise, if you encouter issues, keep the City involved so they can track the number of occurances and respond appropriately.


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  • tbird April 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    @Jonathan #16,
    I agree completely. I seems we take one step forward and two steps back, then send out press release congratulating ourselves about the 3 GIANT steps we’ve just taken.
    Sorry Portland

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  • E April 17, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    The waterfront is already nearly impossible if the sun is out. If I need to get somewhere I use the Naito bike lane. It’s not as nice, but the fast route is never as nice as the scenic route.
    I don’t think those things will get very far from the source. I can’t imagine one getting as far as the Steel Bridge, or up the Hawthorne ramp. I’m curious to see how many people will be willing to rent them in those heavy-traffic conditions. Sorry, Kerr Bikes; your heart may be in the right place, but your head isn’t.

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  • feralcow April 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm


    In TOTAL agreement over your comment about a separated bike way and using Naito. Fact is, there is not an easy north/south route from old town to PSU… I love the options, but do tighten my grip at rush hour using Broadway, 4 or 5th (which is just awful with traffic now on the 1 lane at 5 o’clock), Naito (car doors on the right, right hook from a turning car on the left) and the Waterfront (dodge, weave, repeat).

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  • NoPoJoe April 17, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    All the more reason to avoid Waterfront Park. On crappy days,its navigable.On nice days, unless you are just enjoying the criticalmass of people enjoying and willing to keep it at 5mph,its smarter to find another route.

    Waterfront isn’t really a part of the transportation system,its a park. The bridges and the Esplanade are considered transportation pieces,so I hope that the surreys are restricted from useing the transportation pieces.

    My guess is that once they bring a couple out for use and get few takers because it requires a larger group to use them,and limited allowed use area, they will quietly go up for sale on Craigslist.

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  • patrickz April 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    The whole project might die from its own awkwardness. Here’s hoping.
    Happy riding, everybody.

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  • Krampus April 17, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Yes, anyone on the Eastbank Esplanade (or west side bank) this weekend will be in for a nightmare. Anytime I must travel along these paths in nice weather I make it a point to take a deep breath, put on my smiley face and prepare to encounter many slowdowns/stops.

    Some of those surrey’s look like golf carts almost, and probably go even slower. This would be the last straw for me… I can barely tolerate the waterfront paths as it already is.

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  • j st slim April 17, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    With a man like Will at the wheel it will be as smooth as a baby’s butt! Nice shirt! Enjoy St.Johns everyone

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  • SkidMark April 17, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Definitely not a tourist town. People here are way too rude to outsiders for it to ever be a tourist town. Maybe the city would have some revenue, and there’d be more jobs if it were a tourist town.

    I wouldn’t mind one taking the lane on the way to Stumptown. They could parallel park out front, and pay the parking meter. It is going to be crowded on the waterfront, maybe, the pedicabs aren’t that hard to pass.

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  • beth h April 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    @ #15:

    “Yuck! Are we a tourist town?”

    Well, actually, yes. Or at least the city and state leadership have been trying to MAKE this a tourist destination, ever since the timber industry fell down under its own weight.

    Cities grow. More people move here, more people come to visit. Growth means more money spent in the city and that can mean more jobs. And now that Oregon has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, we ought to be doing all we can to promote more jobs in our city.

    Slamming a tourist bike biz before it’s even off the ground makes no real point, especially when many of the objections are raised by folks who moved here from somewhere else and don’t want anyone else to follow after them. That’s not how the game works.

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  • SkidMark April 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    “especially when many of the objections are raised by folks who moved here from somewhere else and don’t want anyone else to follow after them.”

    OK kettle!

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  • Pat April 17, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    What we really need to boost tourist cred is a few of these: http://www.fietscafe.nl/engels/index.html

    You could promote local beverages and cycling at the ame time. Someone apparently rents them in Minneapolis, so why not here?

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  • Andy B from Jersey April 17, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Yes you are a tourist town. I was a tourist there once and plan to be one again soon. Sorry to blow it for ya’. But don’t worry. I’ll be riding a bike.

    I second the Fietscafe/Bar!

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  • PJ April 18, 2009 at 7:28 am

    What a bunch of cry babies! Since when is it bad to have no-emission vehicles in town? Of course the water front is going to be crowded, like it all ready is. Commute in the street like we fought for the right to do. Also, what’s with all this tourist hate, they bring money into our town that’s feeling it right in the wallet! Remember, if you weren’t borne here, you were probably a tourist the first time you visited too! jeez guys, what’s with the snobbery?

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  • John April 19, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    A similar company was started near Sacramento and Davis, and I never encountered a single four wheeled rental on the American River–soon after I believe the company failed. It’s not going to catch fire here either, how often do you even see a tandem? The four wheeler is just too much bike.

    If you want to rent a bike(the two wheeled), check out Pedal Bike Tours, way cheaper, they have road bikes too.

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  • joe adamski April 19, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    One aspect I realize reading and re-reading these posts is the fact that the river that runs through our City is valued highly by all. Not just a select group such as runners or photographers, but everyone values the river and what little access we have to it. Understandably, its easier to access the river downtown. And downtown has more to offer besides the river. From Waterfront Park to the confluence with the Columbia, the only other places to get next to the river on public property with any improvement and facilities to access the river is Cathedral Park in St Johns. Yes,i know about Freightliner on Swan Island,which has limited access isand almost a secret..
    So while we as one group of users find the congestion a pain at times,it is testament to the vision those folks who tore up the Harbor Freeway and gave everyone access to the river there.

    I bring this up because the North Portland Greenway trail proposes to be an extension of the Waterfront Park/Esplanade system, going all the way to Kelly Point Park and connecting the 40 mile loop system. Waterfront Park becomes even more important, as it already serves as a link to the Springwater Crossing trail via the Esplanade to Oaks Bottom. Someday the Sullivans Gulch trail will connect, as well as the Southwest Portland trails.Waterfront/Esplanade will become,over the years, the new “Grand Central Station” of non-motorized transit here in Portland.

    And this is the kind of “good uses” that make a place successful and an important piece to the life of the City.

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  • sacrilegious April 19, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    They probably won’t even discriminate against people who don’t wear tight pants.

    This town is going to hell. 🙁

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  • eric April 19, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    What is this surrey crap? WHEN CAN I RENT A CONFERENCE BIKE?!?!?! come on, man up. 4 people? heck, I want 7!

    seriously, I tried riding my bike on the waterfront last thursday: saying that the waterfront is good for commuting by bike is like saying that sitting in traffic in your car is fun! there’s plenty of other ways to get there, and they don’t involve playing chicken with peds.

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  • Steph April 20, 2009 at 8:48 am

    What is cool about these bikes is that they make going for a family bike ride a possibility for folks with different disabilities that may not have ever had access to a type of bike that could work for them.

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  • Kt April 20, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    People, chill out.

    These things will stay down on the waterfront, as the few people who stray into the core will discover what a nightmare it is if you aren’t used to it.

    +1 on everyone who says that Waterfront park is NOT the place to commute. Not if you have to be somewhere at a specific time! Great for nonchalant crusing, though, which is the whole point of this business.

    That said, I too am pessimistic as to how this company will fare. Sure it works in Seaside– I doubt it will work here with any sort of success. I’ll give them my good wishes, though.

    Ooh, here’s another thought: can you imagine trying to get around Saturday Market with these things?? Yikes! It’s already difficult to walk around down there, tourists aren’t going to want to leave those things sitting alone somewhere, and how would you lock it up securely?

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  • Nick April 20, 2009 at 12:14 pm


    Locking would be easy. It just needs to be immobilized (like putting a lock through the wheel). I guess a tow truck could still steal it, but that’s probably not going to happen.

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  • jon April 20, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    i wish they would have built a seperate bike path in waterfront park, perhaps next to naito parkway. instead of the in-street bike lanes on naito, naito could have been a skinnier street and then put in a two-way quality protected off-street bike path/cycle track on the eastern side of naito where there would be no road crossings. and it could run all the way up naito to the fremont bridge.

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  • timtim April 24, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Those things look rad. It would be fun to race them team versus team!

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  • eli bishop September 3, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    I have to say, I had a terrific experience here. The surreys are getting a lot of the attention, but I just brought my partner’s parents here to rent bikes and was impressed with their clear signage, superb location, friendly attitudes, and range of equipment. We got them two cruisers and took them to Oaks Park. Nothing will make people appreciate biking more than a positive experience, and for two people who haven’t been on a bike in years, it was pratically perfect. I was so relieved! Anything too weird or snide or DIY wouldn’t have been their speed at all.

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