When students and staff arrive at the campus of Benjamin Franklin High School in Southeast Portland (5405 SE Woodward), they’re greeted with an important message: Bikes are respected, encouraged, and accommodated for.
The message isn’t something you read on a poster. It’s implied — by rows of perfectly spaced staple racks installed on concrete slabs surrounded by attractive cobblestones and located smack dab near the main entrance of the school. (A roof would make this parking perfect, and sources say that’s in the works).
There are 18 staple racks, room for 36 bikes. With the generous spacing between them, cargo bikes, bikes with trailers, recumbents and even freak bikes have plenty of breathing room (for themselves and their owners).
According to Jeff Smith at the Bureau of Transportation, the racks were installed with the help of parent volunteer Jeremy Sarant and Franklin High students. The school has a vocational/technical focus so students from a shop class prepped the area, poured the concrete and installed the cobblestones. (Smith says they plan on covering the racks soon).
The total cost of the project was about $2000, with $900 spent on racks and $1100 on installation.
Funds for the project came from a small pot (less than $5,000 total, that is used for hundreds of racks at schools throughout the city) that Smith sets aside each year for bike parking at schools and special events. Smith uses the money specifically for schools that aren’t a part of the federally funded Safer Routes to Schools program. Here’s more from Smith:
“This came out of the realization that if you wait for schools to fund bike parking, you’re likely to be waiting a long time — it’s just not going to make it far enough up the list of essential school services at most schools in the current desperate funding climate.”
In the last year or so, Smith figures he’s put in about 170 bike parking spaces at schools throughout the city.
This seems like a great example of how the city can work with a school, get students involved, and deliver a low-cost, high impact project that encourages biking and good transportation choices.