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Hotel near airport offers “Bike and Fly” service, free loaner bikes

Posted by on June 16th, 2009 at 10:39 am

Loaner bikes await guests at the new
Aloft hotel near the airport.
(Photo: Aloft)

Portland is fortunate to have a bike-accessible (and friendly) airport just a few miles out of town. It’s a good thing too, because there are also growing number of people who bike there to catch a flight. We also get our share of car-conscious visitors (meaning, folks that would rather not drive once they get here in order to experience our world-famous bike scene).

The options at the airport for either parking your bike for extended periods, or for taking your bike with you aren’t so hot. As we’ve discussed recently, prices for bikes as baggage can be pretty high. And as for parking, there’s no secure area for biking travelers to park (there is however, a locked and gated parking area for airport employees).

Leave it to a bike-loving general manager of a hotel near the airport to see an opportunity.

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The new Aloft Portland Airport at Cascade Station hotel now offers loaner bikes for visitors and they have a new “Bike and Fly” program.

“As a member of the hospitality industry, the more we can create exposure to guests coming into Portland of what we’re all about, the better.”
— Glen Lewis, Aloft Portland Airport at Cascade Station

This morning I spoke with Assistant General Manager Glen Lewis. He says they’ve got a small fleet of Electra cruisers and a couple of Bike Friday folding bikes on hand for guests to use. They’re free and they’ll also set you up with bike maps. The “Bike and Fly” program grew out of the many ‘park and flys’ offered at other hotels. Lewis noticed those and thought, “There might be some people who want to ride out [to the airport] and get the same service.”

The bike parking at Aloft is in a locked storage area. The service is free with your room (which a staffer this morning said was about $139 a night) and they’ll store your bike for up to 10 days. The service comes with a free shuttle to the airport, or you can jump on the MAX light rail at a station a few steps from the hotel.

Lewis says making his hotel welcoming and supportive of bikes is, “a great opportunity.” “As a member of the hospitality industry,” he adds, “the more we can create exposure to guests coming into Portland of what we’re all about, the better.”

As an aside, in light of our recent coverage, Lewis told me that he has contacted the Port of Portland (the owners of the airport) to express his support for a “Bikes Fly Free” policy and/or program.

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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

  • Vanessa June 16, 2009 at 10:56 am

    When is someone going to open up a bike rental at the airport? I have friends coming in this week who would use it. Zillions of people would use it. And when can there be secure bike parking at the airport for those of us who are not airport employees? I would use it in a heartbeat.

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  • Steve Hoyt-McBeth June 16, 2009 at 10:59 am

    There are also a number of central city hotels that offer free fleet bike use to their guests: Crowne Plaza and the Ace Hotel are two that I know of.

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  • peejay June 16, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Cool. But, I will say that the Aloft Hotel is located in a particularly ugly box-store development, with bad connectivity and otherwise car-intensive transit modes. The scale of that development is not in keeping with getting around by foot or bike for most people. It’s a shame that a better “village” style development could not have been built to support the airport. Or, better yet, move the bulk of the retail to a spot closer to the city, within the grid fabric that already exists, without the huge parking lots. As for Aloft, why couldn’t it attach itself right to the airport structure? Seems like there’s plenty of room closer in.

    Regarding hotels and bikes: the posh downtown hotel I usually stay at in Tokyo was very generous with my bright green fixie. When they found out I was locking it up on the street level (the lobby is on the 16th floor), they suggested that I bring it up to the lobby for them to secure. They’d give me a luggage claim tag every evening, and retrieve my bike every morning! When in the Ginza district of Tokyo, be sure to stay at the Mitsui Garden Hotel.

    Speaking of flying, Jonathan: how did you capture that Bakfiets-style bike at full cruising altitude on your banner photo? You’ve got some good timing with your camera!

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  • xorbit June 16, 2009 at 11:49 am

    forget about bike rental… FREE bikes for visitors! think about it — its the ideal twist on the fabled “yellow bike” program:

    1) its a given that people there will have an id and it could be coordinated to require proof of return ticket as well

    2) sponsorship opportunities galore! wouldnt you like to be the cool portland (or heck global) company letting people bike for free in portland? additionally, have it funded by the port, metro, whoever.

    3) pretty clean logistics: only need one location (probably pretty small footprint), and europe has already experimented with unmanned (no staff = cheaper) bike-dispensing stations. perhaps a user would need (in addition to the kiosk verifying id/return ticket electronically) to use a credit card / debit card as a *deposit* but would get it back.

    4) so what if something happens to the bike and/or a little upkeep is needed. maybe that would be done as donation (i.e. tax writeoff) by local bike shop(s).

    how cool would that be??? “flying in to visit portland? why not take a free bike around our city!!”

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  • maxadders June 16, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Aloft is indeed right out there by Best Buy, Ikea, etc– but it’s also right on the MAX line. stick your free loaner on a hook and you’re downtown in 20 minutes. not too shabby! seems ideal if you’ve got business out by the airport but still want to goof off and explore the city by bike while you’re here.

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  • joeb June 16, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Am I hearing that you can store your bike at Aloft? Last time I took my beater bike and left it in unsecured parking. It would be pretty ok to me to pay to park secured for up to 10 days.

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  • Editz June 16, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    How many people bike to the airport with their luggage? Or is this just for tourists to dink around town after the Aloft shuttle van has taken them to the hotel?

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  • steve June 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Great idea, though a fleet of hybrids would make more sense. Electra cruisers are not very good for getting from the airport to the inner city. Even hoisting them on the Max would be a pain. Sort of confusing choice, as they are not particularly cheap bikes either.

    They sure do look nice though! Loaner or rental bikes with smallish cargo carrying ability, available directly in the terminal seems like the best idea.

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  • Todd June 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Visitors to Portland can also take the MAX right into downtown and rent a bike from one of our own hard working local bike rental shops, like, located at 2249 N Williams right by the Rose Quarter.

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  • paul g. June 16, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I am confused about how this works. I could manage to use a bike to get to the Max to get to ALoft and to the plane, saving my family the drive.

    But what are the storage costs for, say, 3-4 days?

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