(Photos by Dan Liu)
Last week, the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation installed their latest batch of on-street bike parking corrals.
“We think this corral and others like it is a great way of drawing residents to local businesses.”
— Kim Carlon, Northwest District Assocation
Motor vehicle parking spaces have been re-allocated to bicycles in the following locations: NW 24th & Thurman, in front of the Dragonfly Coffee House and Food Front; NE Alberta & 31st, in front of the new Vita Cafe; and at N. Alta and Lombard in downtown St. Johns, in front of St. Johns Cinema.
Both the Alberta and St. Johns corrals have 9 staples, for 18 bikes, while the corral on Thurman is smaller, at 6 staples for 12 bikes.
for this for a very long time.
According to PBOT bike program specialist Sarah Figliozzi, the smaller corral on Thurman signals a slightly different approach to the City’s business district bike parking plans. “In the future, what I see is a greater number of smaller corrals, about six staples each,” Figliozzi said. This approach would be more suited to Portland’s larger commercial districts, by spreading the commercial advantages of on-street bike parking around different blocks and businesses.
“Generally, we get very strong support for the bike corrals from the business community, due to the increased customer ratio they make available — up to 10 people for each parking spot — as well as the increased street and curb visibility the corrals provide,” says Figliozzi.
The effort to add multiple bike corrals to the Northwest commercial districts is being spearheaded by Figliozzi and the Northwest District Association (NWDA).
Kim Carlson and Devon Liebman, both members of the NWDA Transportation Committee, are working with Figliozzi and other city officials to have more corrals installed just blocks away from this new one in front of Dragonfly Coffee House. Liebman and Figliozzi rode their bikes around Northwest back in November, identifying potential spots for new on-street bike parking. The decision to put the corral at 24th and Thurman was made by the NWDA board, who unanimously approved the corral after Erin Timmons, the owner of Dragonfly, came forward and requested its installation.
House on Thurman.
“There are a lot of businesses, particularly on NW 23rd, that have closed because they must (and haven’t been able to) attract outside customers,” says Carlson. “On Thurman, the businesses get their customers from the neighborhood and nearby residents.”
Carlson continued, “Our neighborhood also doesn’t have a great reputation for having a lot of people commuting downtown by bike, or biking to their neighborhood stores and cafés. We think this corral and others like it is a great way of drawing residents to local businesses.”
The new corral can be seen as a further test of the concept: to prove that they actually are good for business, and that NW Thurman has a latent demand for bike parking. So far, so good: the Thurman St. corral was half full, just hours after the corral was installed at 10:30 last Friday morning. “We would see potential to expand the corrals if they are also consistently 75-80% full,” says Figliozzi.
As a test, however, the 24th and Thurman location is also an easy one politically: NW 24th is a bike boulevard, the city and neighborhood association had support from both the business owner and her landlord, and the corral occupies a former no-parking zone. As future bike corrals may require sacrificing car parking spaces, or face resistance from one or more stakeholders, it might take a lot more political maneuvering to make them happen.
The other benefits of on-street bike parking, including increased visibility and improved pedestrian and sidewalk traffic, should not go unnoticed — but it is up to the neighborhood association and both private and public cycling advocates to get everyone on the same page. The relationship goes in three ways: in order for the investment to be worth the city’s time and money, there must actually be cyclists who use the parking, as well as businesses, landlords, and city officials responsible for metered parking, who are willing to give up one or more curbside parking spots.
The hope is that the success of the corral at NW 24th & Thurman will encourage business and city officials to more thoroughly embrace replacing on-street car parking with bike parking corrals. “A lot of the decision to install a corral will be based on existing and latent bike parking demand,” said Figliozzi. Hopefully, the demand is already there, and both the city and NWDA-area businesses will agree on ways to get more bike parking around NW 21st and 23rd.
These three new bike parking corrals, along with the one installed in March on NW 13th in the Pearl District, mean that Mayor Sam Adams can tick off another one of his “First 100 Days” of bike-related promises.
The next bike corral, slated for installation in July, will be in front of Widmer Brewery on N. Russell at Interstate.