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PDX airport now offers bike assembly station – Updated

Posted by on June 28th, 2010 at 9:32 am

New bike assembly station at PDX Airport.
(Photo: Port of Portland)

The Portland International Airport has unveiled a new perk for people who travel with their bicycles: A bike assembly station.

Two Park Tools workstands.

PDX has been working to make this idea a reality for over two years, after the idea sprang forth during a brainstorming session at the 2008 Oregon Bike Summit. As we reported back in October of that year, PDX modeled their new facility after bike assembly areas at airports in New Zealand and British Columbia.

According to Jason Gately with the Port of Portland, the new bike assembly station offers a workstand with two clamps, basic tools (pedal wrench, pump, etc…), and maps and other literature about biking resources in the region. Airport employees who bike to work are also expected to take advantage of the new workstation. Tools are loaned out through the Welcome Oregon kiosk. Here’s a close-up of the sign inside the assembly station:

Travel Oregon partnered with the Port on the project, seeing the facility as a way to make bike tourism more appealing and convenient. Gately sees PDX as a “natural gateway” for biking and says, “We want to promote bike tourism as much as possible.”

The bike assembly station is location on the lower terminal roadway near the TriMet MAX station. Here’s a map:

UPDATE: To answer a few of the questions in the comments, here’s more information from Rachel Wray, Environmental Outreach Manager with Portland of Portland:

The assembly station is available 24/7. The State Welcome Center is staffed from about 8:00am – 10:00pm (I need to verify the hours, but they certainly cover our busiest times). During those hours, there is someone available to lend basic bicycle assembly tools. This feature is brand new, so it’s a work in progress, but the plan is to check out tools as a courtesy in exchange for a piece of ID (drivers license). Travel Oregon will assess how this goes and adjust the check-out process as needed.

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  • Bjorn June 28, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Now if we can just get them to ban charges for flying with a bicycle.

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  •! the other one June 28, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Is this new bike station free? Is it open all hours?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

      Just posted an update with more information in response to a few questions raised here in the comments:

      The assembly station is available 24/7. The State Welcome Center is staffed from about 8:00am – 10:00pm (I need to verify the hours, but they certainly cover our busiest times). During those hours, there is someone available to lend basic bicycle assembly tools. This feature is brand new, so it’s a work in progress, but the plan is to check out tools as a courtesy in exchange for a piece of ID (drivers license). Travel Oregon will assess how this goes and adjust the check-out process as needed.

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  • peejay June 28, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Now, if only the Port of Portland could use a little leverage to stop some of the extortionate bicycle fees they charge travelers. I’m talking to YOU, Delta!

    I’m too lazy to link, but bike snob talked about this issue last week. United and Delta are the two worst airlines for this.

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  • bikieboy June 28, 2010 at 9:47 am

    this is a great service — !

    i’m wondering about the details – how someone flying in with a bike would know it existed, and how they would access the tools – is there an attendant, or..?

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  • Patrick June 28, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Don’t want charges for bikes? Couplered bike and I’ve got a bag built locally that travels with ease

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  • Todd Boulanger June 28, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Yes…Delta is an “airway robber” when it charges $200 ($400 RT) for portage of a bicycle as luggage vs. $100 that airlines like American charge.

    For traveling with a bike check American Airlines fares first.

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  • Todd Boulanger June 28, 2010 at 9:58 am

    And thank you Port of Portland and Travel Oregon on making this idea come true (and listening to your bike customers).

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  • Steve B. June 28, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Super smart of these partners to put this together! Thank you.

    Hope they have a pedal wrench, they’re quite a pain to lug around on your trip just for the unboxing.

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  • esther June 28, 2010 at 10:16 am

    hey, does the airport in minneapolis have one of these? just asking.

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  • David Feldman June 28, 2010 at 10:23 am

    If this is successful, maybe there could be space for box recycling.
    I have, at different times, arrived at airports without being able to obtain a box–bribery helped that time–and having left a huge Santana tandem box at another airport that we were riding away from. Maybe a box exchange area would be good if space was available–leave a box for the next cyclist.

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  • John Russell (jr98664) June 28, 2010 at 11:58 am

    PDX is one of the few airports where I haven’t gotten strange looks as my SPD cleats go through the x-ray.

    As for bicycle-friendly airlines, remember JetBlue? Their bicycle fee is still only $50 for domestic flights, $80 for international flights, and properly boxed folding bikes (as you may remember) no longer incur a bicycle fee at all. According to their website, the boxes are only limited to 99 lbs. as well and will not be charged an overweight baggage fee.

    In the past they’ve even let bikes fly for free during the month of July in honor of the Tour de France. If you’re flying to the NYC Triathlon, for instance, your bike flies free with a coupon as well.

    As far as most major airlines go, I think JetBlue is certainly on the right track to bicycle friendliness.

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  • Gerik June 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Jonathan, why no mention of the fact that the port is leading a charge to take federal funding away from active transportation at Metro? One bike stand seems like PR, tens of millions of dollars would be real support.

    Here is a letter from the Port asking for funding for freight (on page 4):

    And here is the background on the issue:

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  • Tom June 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Hi all, last October I flew from PDX with a bike. When researching prices these are the qoutes I got: Delta $400, Continental $200, jetBlue $100 & Southwest $100 all for round trip. I was suprised at the wide price difference- don’t they check each others prices and try to be competative? These four airlines ticket prices, for my butt, were very competative- within a $100 of each other. So the extra $300 made a big difference in my decision of who to fly with.

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  • Chris June 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Great idea, thanks Port/Travel Oregon!
    (I met no fewer than 15 touring cyclists so far this summer that have arrived at PDX to start their cross country ride. I’m guessing it will get use!)

    FYI – check the fine print on airline oversized baggage pages. Many airlines don’t promise that your bike will even make it on your flight. If there is not room for oversized items, they will be bumped.

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  • Spiffy June 28, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    that was a nice little write-up on bikesnob…

    the worst part is that the bike is not even on the same plane and you have to wait until morning to get it… how do they think this is going to work when your bike is your form of transportation? you’ll be stuck at the airport until it gets there… LAME!

    you know that everybody at the airport is going to give you “the look” when you mention that you only travel by bicycle and that renting a car is not an option…

    check the fine print for sure!

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  • Bryan McLellan June 28, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I always bring a bike when I travel to Portland, albeit by Amtrak Cascades. Once when visiting Portland on business a $100 ticket educated me of Oregon’s law requiring the use of bicycle lanes when present. It would be great if this facility was stocked with information warning of such ordinances.

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  • Natty June 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    After dances with Air Canada and American Airlines over damaged bicycle boxes … and considering the outlandish fees levied by most airlines, I found it cheaper and more reliable to ship my bike ahead by FedEx … it still flies, is insured, arrives in-tact, and usually costs less.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    It’s worth knowing that the idea of ending bike fees at the airport is already being talked about.

    Like the RideOregonRide website and this bike assembly station, these things start as ideas.. .hopefully I’ll be able to report someday in the near future that bike fees are a thing of the past at PDX!

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  • Patrick June 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Hate to be a naysayer but airlines aren’t going to lift fees

    I’d love to talk to people about couplered bike and custom bag built in pdx. I’ve flown just about evergreen with it this year with no charges. I’ve ridden some of Americas worst, finest and highest roads this year on a couplered surly travelers check. Interested to hear more? Track me down. Patrickinpdx. I’d love to see showers at the airport.

    I’d love to

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I hear you Patrick… I realize that airlines are unlikely to stop charging. If anything, the rates will go up!

    … but what if we could create some sort of subsidy program wherein Travel Oregon and/or the PDC would work with the airlines and reimburse them? They’d do it in the name of promoting bike tourism and biking in general. just a thought.

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  • Anonymous June 28, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    “Once when visiting Portland on business a $100 ticket educated me of Oregon’s law requiring the use of bicycle lanes when present.”

    If there is debris or road imperfections in the bike lane you can take the lane. Also, thanks to a certain infamous judge’s ruling if there is a break in the bike lane paint you should not be able to take the lane. (I hardly every ride in bike lanes and am itching for someon to cite me.)

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  • Patrick June 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Ok I’m feeling that. Although……. You ever dealt with the airlines much? I mean they just made a woman in the security line throw out 2 oz of fluid because the bottle says 5 ounces.
    It’s a great idea don’t met me discourage you. In the meantime couplers will more than pay for themselves. I’ve spoke to a few local builds who can install them on existing whips.

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  • spare_wheel June 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    “Once when visiting Portland on business a $100 ticket educated me of Oregon’s law requiring the use of bicycle lanes when present.”

    Debris or ruts/potholes in the bike lane allow you to take the lane. Also, thanks to an infamous ruling, if there is a break in bike lane striping it should be legal to exit the bike lane.

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  • AdamG June 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    They should try tethering a pedal wrench (and pump) to the stand with some chain, hauling a partially assembled bike around to find tools (when available, the sign doesn’t say when) is no fun, I’d end up using my mini-tools instead.

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  • Bryan McLellan June 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm


    Sure. Unfortunately I couldn’t work coming back to Portland for the hearing into my schedule to make any arguments.

    In the particular case I was riding downtown away from the door zone out of habit while trying to find my way to a bridge. When the officer asked me why I wasn’t using the required lane I told him I didn’t know it was required and knew it was not in Seattle.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure he thought I was lying to him when I told him I was in town on business because of my bicycle and attire. So maybe others wouldn’t have so much an issue. Still, if it is going to be enforced there should be some effort to educate visitors.

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  • q'Tzal June 28, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    What’s most odious about these arbitrarily derived bike fees is the lack of fees that get charge for certain higjh end sporting goods: golf clubs, surf boards, skis. Inconsistantly these sort of items would simply be processed as normal baggage or simply charged an oversize fee.
    Mention you have a bike though and the airline industry has heard you admit 2 things: that they can abuse you and your bike in any way and that they are absolved of any liability.

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  • Katrina Scotto di Carlo June 28, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    This is wonderful. Thanks to everyone that worked on this – bravo!

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  • Karl Faber June 28, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    How cool is this!? Wish the rest of the US could understand what this means to……Everything. I can,t say enough.
    Just keep doing what you do, Portland!

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  • Jerry_W June 29, 2010 at 8:18 am

    I’ve met some of the nicest people while sitting in the baggage claim areas of airports putting together my bicycle. People walk up and strike up a conversation, locals offer advice and directions, some just want to talk bikes. The bike stand is a nice thought, but I usually only need a pedal wench and an allen key for the handle bar, for touring I carry these anyway, no real need for a bike stand for this task.
    I guess the most important thing about this is the message it sends to visitors, Oregon is bike friendly. For me, I’ll stay out in the baggage claim area with da people.

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  • Vladislav Davidzon June 29, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Jonathan, it may be worth making the argument that ending bike fees could be a huge green PR move for the airlines with a very low price tag. Coming from someone like yourself who is seen as part of the “green media”, it could actually carry weight.

    The number of people who fly with bikes in our society can’t possibly be all that high considering how few and far between cyclists tend to be in most of the US. When I biked cross-country, in all too many places, we certainly turned heads from folks who were seeing a new creature that has never been on their radar before.

    It sounds to me that the airports and the airlines are seeking ways to gain good green PR — so let’s hand it to them on a silver platter. End the bike fees, and spin it as a huge green PR move that will save millions of dollars and advance the green cause, while in reality costing pennies on the dollar to the airlines.

    We need to meet people where they are — and the airlines appear to be a dinosaur of the GM pre-bankruptcy variety. We aren’t going to get any real green movement out of them until they go near-extinct the way GM did (notice how the Volt is now the car on which the entire future of that company is staked?). Until that time, we aren’t going to be able to get much from them — but we certainly can get them to score some green brownie points by dumping the bike fees IF and only IF we can spin it to them as a huge green PR move at very little cost.

    It’s too bad we keep bailing out all these companies who really should be left to fail and rot on their own. If it wasn’t for all the subsidies we’d long have a sustainable, green, thriving society as these dinosaurs would long have gone extinct.

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  • trail user June 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Finally. You know how long it takes to walk from one terminal to another? This will make it fast.

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  • Angela June 29, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    This is awesome! Once again, Portland is leading the way.

    However, in the absence of such a great facility, I agree that JetBlue is super bike-friendly and that putting your bike together in the baggage claim area is a great way to meet folks and have friendly conversations about cycling.

    While I was charged $50 for my bike, the ticket guy in Portland waived the additional extra baggage fees (I had to check an additional bag). Once in DC, the JetBlue customer service staff couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful and I think every person who walked by had a friendly comment or question. This was likely the highlight of the first day of my east coast adventure.

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  • 151 June 29, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    This seems a bit strange to me. While I won’t bemoan more cycling resources, I’m genuinely curious: how many people depart locally from the airport via bicycle daily? How much usage is expected from the new facility?

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  • Dave S June 30, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Delta is the worst not only in fees, but in the general policy. They have tried to charge me to bring on both my S&S coupled Waterford and my Dahon, both of which fit in standard suitcases. I wanted to avoid the arguments at the counter, so I wrote to the CEO’s assistant at Delta. I got a polite response, but they told me after some review, ANY bicycle will be charged the $400. So the only way to get on Delta with a folder is sneak it on in a non-bike suitcase. I made a custom trailer/case for my Dahon just for this purpose. I also started a Bicyclists Boycott Delta group on Facebook. I plan to alert the CEO about the boycott soon as the group now has 500 members. You can join that group here if you want to add your voice:

    Dave in Milwaukee

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  • Paul Tay June 30, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Still a huge hassle. Go Greyhound.

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  • Patrick June 30, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Sorry to hear about Dave’s bad experience with a couplered bike. I bring my couplered surly almost weekly on my travels with not a problem.

    Being an informed travler, knowing the size and weight requirements often avoids problems. If asked what’s in the bag and you run into problems with the counter agent wanting to charge you, stay calm and metion that the bag meets airline size and weight requirements. Keep in mind it’s not the airlines who look in your bag but the TSA. Once your bag gets to TSA they have nothing to do with airline charges. If the counter agent asks what is in the bag a quick- “outdoor gear” seems to suffice.

    I’ve designed a bag (build locally) which meets the size requirements and doesn’t draw a lot of attention.

    I’d also add that when traveling with a bike I recommend doing a curbside check in. Have a 10 or 20 ready to hand to the baggage porter, smile and it’s often never an issue.

    Stay a step ahead of the airlines and keep your cool, flash a smile and things should be fine with a couplered bike.

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  • Pete June 30, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    trail user (#32) read my mind… 🙂

    I used to live in the gorge and met scores of bike tourists there from out of state (who rode from PDX). Once a nice SoCal couple on a tandem happened by as my chain broke and helped me out (wondered if that was you David Feldman?). This is a great idea and I think the tethered pedal wrench makes sense.

    I fly into PDX tomorrow from the “new” Norman Mineta San Jose Airport – where everyone’s stoked they have laptop and USB charging on the seats – not quite the same priorities down here :(.

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  • B. Carfree June 30, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    It seems like some of the most commonly used tools, like a 15mm wrench, could be attached to the stand with a long piece of cable for convenience.

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  • ali rahimi July 12, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I just landed in PDX a few hours ago. The repair stand wasn’t just incredibly convenient for me, it was the warmed welcome any city could have offered me.

    But I didn’t know about the stand at first. Ten minutes into reassembling my bike near the Alaska carousel next to the phone booths (my usual assembling spot), an extremely friendly airport employee pointed out the stand near the racks outside. I was almost finished, but the idea of finishing the final fine tuning with civilized tools moved me almost to tears, and made me want to hug the employee, and the two subsequent employees who pointed out the stand to me. It was like being offered a shower and a meal after being lost in the wilderness for days.

    My experience with most bike infrastructure is that it tries to make people safe by constraining them (bike paths, bike lanes, stop lights, etc). This piece of infrastructure is about convenience, freedom, acceptance and about human dignity. It’ as if it declares to a traveler:

    “When you come to PDX, you do not have to scurry on the ground to assemble your bike. You can stand upright and work with pride.”

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