What streetcar did for the Pearl District, bikes are doing for North Williams Avenue. O.K., so maybe it’s not quite an equal comparison, but the presence of bike traffic on Williams has encouraged its share of development and the influx of bike-friendly businesses popping up along the street shows no sign of letting up.
Queen Bee has found great success with their handmade bike panniers. The company employs 13 people, most of whom can be seen working away at sewing machines tucked behind a small retail space at the front of the shop.
Dana Hinger, Queen Bee’s business and operations manager, says the Williams location fits the company much better than their former location on East Burnside. “I’d much rather see bikes than all the cars on Burnside… We’re so happy to be here.” In addition calmer traffic, Hinger noted that people who ride bikes mesh well with Queen Bee’s values of community and a do-it-yourself ethic.
Queen Bee shares a wall with United Bicycle Institute, the state licensed vocational school that moved in back in October. UBI was courted by real estate developer John Kellogg (who has developed several properties in the area). Kellogg’s vision is to make the entire corner of Williams and Shaver “biker central.”
There’s one spot left in the development (on the corner) and Kellogg says he’s “Still trying to find the right bike-centric tenant.” Kellogg isn’t shy about putting bikes front and center in his sales pitch. The first bullet-point on the sales flyer says it’s a “bike centric project.”
Just south of UBI and Queen Bee, another new project is in the works that will up the bike ante even more. The Ecoflats apartment complex will have 21 units and according to Neighborhood Notes, the architect has big plans for bikes.
Veillet has designed Ecoflats with the bike community in mind. The project will offer these bike-friendly features:
* bike lockers on each floor, so residents won’t have to store their bikes in their unit
* An on-site bike maintenance room for resident use.
Stairways will feature wheel troughs, which will allow bikes to be easily rolled up and down stairs.[An update from Neighborhood Notes finds that an ADA mandated elevator has narrowed the stairway and the developer can no longer build the wheel trough.]“
Vergnetti’s Coffee, another business that has sprung up in the last few months, makes their bike love obvious: Two signs made out of bikes hang off the front of their building and a flyer on the window proudly announces, “Bike parking inside!”.
Vergnetti’s joins Lincoln Restaurant (who has dubbed the area the “Bike Commuter Corridor” and even has a special happy hour for bike riders) and the bike business duo of Pedal Bike Tours and Metropolis Cycle Repair who moved into lower Williams back in 2008.
All of this bike traffic and business activity has come at a very low cost to the City of Portland. Williams registered 2,750 daily bicycle trips (at N. Russell) in the 2009 bike counts, making it one of the most popular bike routes in the city despite the fact that it has only a standard-width bike lane and is not always the most pleasant place to ride. Not a bad return on investment.
PBOT hopes to upgrade the bike lane to a cycle track soon. When that happens, we can expect the bike-oriented development to continue.