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Study: Portland businesses believe in bike parking benefits

Posted by on May 25th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Cover of Bike Corrals: Local Business
Impacts, Benefits, and Attitudes
Download PDF

A preliminary study of Portland’s on-street bike parking corrals shows they’ve got widespread support from nearby business owners. The report also found that business owners perceive one out of every four of their customers arrive by bike.

The study was done by Drew Meisel, a graduate student in Portland State University’s School of Urban Studies and Planning and Fellow at the Institute of Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation who’s currently working as an intern at Alta Planning and Design.

Meisel heard from 44 businesses (our of 132 he surveyed) that operate within one half-block of Portland’s many on-street bike corrals (the number of which has grown from one in 2004 to nearly 50 today). The study included an online survey along with empirical analysis of each corral’s location.

On-street bike parking downtown-10.jpg

(Photo © J. Maus)

The results of the survey showed that businesses perceived on average that 24.8% of their total customer base arrive on bicycles. More than 2/3 said that both the rate of bike-riding customers and the demand for bike parking has risen over time.

One question on the survey asked businesses whether they agreed or disagreed that the presence of the bike corral enhanced the “street and neighborhood identity.” Meisel reports that a whopping 84 percent strongly agreed or agreed that “bike corrals enhance the street and neighborhood for residents and patrons.”

“This perception of an enhanced street identity is very important because many local businesses rely on a dynamic shopping environment to attract customers—that the bike corrals play a part in creating this atmosphere…”

The results of the survey indicate widespread local business support for the corrals with few exceptions.
— From the study’s abstract

Meisel says businesses who took the survey noted three key benefits to the bike corrals: an increase in the number of customers; an improved sidewalk/cafe seating environment; and improved visibility of the business from the street.

This is a good first step in gathering data on the impact of bike corrals both to parking congestion and business, but Meisel acknowledges that more in-depth research is needed.

On that note, the Bureau of Transportation is gearing up for their first-ever bike corral user counts this summer.

Download a PDF of the study, Bike Corrals: Local Business Impacts, Benefits, and Attitudes.

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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

  • MIndful Cyclist May 25, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I think the thing I like most about these bike corrals is it helps me see if a car is coming or not.

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  • Michael May 25, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    You didn’t read the study limitations, did you? Did you actually even get past the first page of bullet points? Par for the course ’round these parts, methinks.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 25, 2010 at 7:53 pm


    yeah. I did read the limitations. do you have a specific point/criticism you’re trying to make?

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  • BURR May 25, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    see, hardly any comments, we all agree!

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  • Scott Cohen May 25, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Nice work, Drew!

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  • resopmok May 25, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Yeah, corrals are great. I think in some regards providing parking for bikes is just as much an incentive to get people riding as providing the infrastructure to keep people “safe” on the roads. I remember when I lived near the Hawthorne Fred Meyer while they were renovating, and a good chunk of the bike parking (now more than doubled) was removed for a short period, it was no end of frustration for many who could not find a place to lock up. Even since, with the expanded and large amount of covered parking, I have been unable to find a spot during peak shopping hours. Even at non peak times, the racks are usually at about half capacity. By comparison, the Freddie’s on NE Glisan and 66th near where I currently live has little in the way of covered, accessible bike parking, and has little in the way of customers arriving by bike. The neighborhood demographics in both areas seem pretty similar to me, but the option to ride your bike to the Glisan Freddie’s doesn’t present itself as readily.

    This is a pretty unscientific study of course, but I think one of the conclusions we can draw from this study is that in fact, if we build it, they will come.

    Probably the biggest problem with corrals is when we don’t have them on both sides of the street. Walking a half block or so either direction after locking up is definitely no problem, and a very big incentive to riding over driving. There’s a very nice corral on 47th and Hawthorne which goes largely unused simply because it’s not close enough (and across the street from) most of the businesses people visit on that block.

    The more we prioritize bikes for short trips, the fewer cars need to park in busy shopping areas, and the more convenience and incentive there is for everyone to ride instead of driving.

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  • resopmok May 25, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Just wanted to add the the majority suggestion among respondents in the survey as to how bike corrals can be improved is to add capacity. They want more, we want more: let’s make it happen.

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  • resopmok May 25, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Sorry, they must have switched the bar graphs for aesthetic improvements and capacity as the table a few pages down clarifies.. at any rate, I still stand by my statement that we need more more and more. It’s a cheap, easy and effective way to encourage people to ride.

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  • Marcus Griffith May 26, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Good step towards addressing the dearth of bike parking studies. The limitations of the study (itemized on p7) are neither surprising nor uncommon for research into a new area.

    Understanding how active transportation modes affect businesses will become increasingly more important in the years to come. Hopefully this study will serve as the grounds for further and more rigorous research into the matter.

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  • Marcus Griffith May 26, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Oh and I plan on citing the report in the Vancouver Parking Advisory meeting being held today to discuss increasing on-street bike parking in Vancouver.

    Think of Vancouver as not being in a separate state, just Far North Portland (and not even that Far north either)

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  • are May 26, 2010 at 8:23 am

    re comment 2, of course i cannot speak for “michael,” but between the limitations noted on page 7 of the document (which include an acknowledgment that the sample was too small to provide statistically significant data), the thing that struck me was that only about a third of the people he asked (and he did not ask anyone who did not maintain a webpage) even responded. this self-selecting fraction of a sliver might skew positive . . .

    of course, as a cyclist i do appreciate having additional parking available here and there, though often i feel these corrals are exposed to careening motorists, and i will instead hook up to a nearby signpost (which has been left open because of the additional capacity provided by the corral, so it’s all good).

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  • lyle May 26, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Bike Corrals are great. Chico, CA has a dozen or so of them in the downtown area and all are heavily used. Especially the one in front of Duffy’s tavern!

    Since parking in the downtown core is at a premium, it only makes sense to ride especially for all the college students. And since the speed limit is limited downtown due to lots of bikes and peds, there really isn’t any danger associated with them.

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  • RWL1776 May 26, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    My buddy owns the NEW Bike Friendly Jimmy John’s Sub Shop, at 1139 NE Broadway, and he’d like to put a corral in front of his bike friendly business. He also wants to have delivery of his tasty and super fast subs done by bike. A chronological story could be posted in regards to what steps (redtape cutting)he has to take to get it installed, and how long it actually takes…….

    “Jimmy Johns, Subs so fast you’ll freak!”

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  • Sarah Figliozzi May 27, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Regarding the Summer Bike Parking Corral Counts: A few bike corral locations still need summer volunteer counters. If anyone is interested you can find more information here:

    #13, RWL1776, if your friend’s shop has enough bike parking demand to warrant a corral he should fill out a corral application. Information and the application can be found on this page:

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