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Bike parking will be at a premium for tomorrow’s Obama visit

Posted by on October 19th, 2010 at 11:20 am

BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-2

Temporary bike parking like this will
be used at the Convention Center tomorrow.
(Photos © J. Maus)

President Obama arrives in Portland tomorrow to stump for gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber at the Oregon Convention Center. The event starts at 5:00 p.m., at the peak of evening rush hour and in a part of town that is — thanks to streetcar and other construction projects — already quite traffic-snarled. The roads will be a complete mess.

Getting there by bike (or MAX) will be much easier; but if you go by bike, will there be a place to park?

Back in 2008, during the North American Handmade Bike Show, huge crowds quickly overflowed the Convention Center’s bike racks (and 500 indoor spaces that were made available especially for the show). When people started locking up to nearby railings, Convention Center security guards cut the locks and started impounding bikes.

Bikes at the Obama Rally-2.jpg

Bike parking at an Obama rally
at the Memorial Coliseum in
March 2008.

While an Obama/Kitzhaber crowd might not be as bike-centric as a bike show crowd, consider what happened last time President Obama came to town. During a campaign stop in May 2008, the massive number of bikes that turned up for his speech on the Waterfront have become the thing of legend.

All of this has me wondering about how the Convention Center will handle all the bikes that are sure to show up tomorrow.

Jeff Castro owns BikeRacker, a local company that provides temporary bike racks for events. He says the Convention Center has already contacted him and requested racks for 1,000 bikes. (For reference, that’s over four times the capacity the BTA had at their recent Bike Commute Challenge Party. See photo above).

Unfortunately, Castro can’t meet that capacity. With many of his racks being used at the Rail-Volution conference this week, he says he can only spare enough capacity for about 200 bikes for the Obama/Kitzhaber event.

The Convention Center has five designated bike parking areas. A rep for the Convention Center says the two of those in their underground parking garage will be off limits tomorrow, leaving a total bike capacity of about 35-40 bikes. Add in the BikeRacker racks and you get about 250 bike spaces. Hopefully they’ll bolster that number, because you can bet security will be tight and they likely will not hesitate to impound bikes parked in unauthorized locations.

If you want to avoid the mess at the Convention Center, consider the new public bike parking at the Doubletree Hotel a few blocks away. They just added capacity for over 50 bikes and it’s about a seven minute walk away (see Google directions here).

Are you planning to attend the event? If so, how will you get there?

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Johnnie Olivan
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I’m going by bike, are they going to cut my u-lock with a hacksaw?

A.K.
Guest
A.K.

Johnnie Olivan:

Yes, they may. The City of NY did just that before a visit recently for “security reasons”, cutting lose hundreds of bikes, throwing them in the back of city trucks, and hauling them away.

Not saying that WILL happen, but I wouldn’t put it past a city to do it in the name of “security”.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/bike-stolen-check-the-police-station/

“But early arrivals along the motorcade route on East Houston Street also got a glimpse of a less likely group that preceded the president: police officers wearing dark blue windbreakers who sawed through locks securing bikes to street signs and other bits of infrastructure and then piled them high on the back of a flatbed truck.”

patrickz
Guest
patrickz

See Barack by bike!! YES!

Valkraider
Guest
Valkraider

Additionally the building at Multnomah and 7th with the Mac Store – just west of the DoubleTree hotel – has decent bike parking on it’s east side, and also some more down the ramp in the parking garage.

Metro has some bike parking at their headquarters on the North side of their courtyard and also along Grand, with a few also in their garage.

The Portland State Office building which is just east of te Metro building also has a good number of staple racks in front of it.

And finally, the LLoyd building at 9th and Multnomah has some racks out front of it as well.

Pretty much everything from the Lloyd Center west is a fairly easy walk and would avoid the crunch at the convention center itself.

But remember to use a U lock. Cables get cut here all the time.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Too bad the Oregon Convention Center thought of this at the last minute (bikes as transport still not considered?)…it also would have been a great opportunity for BikeRacker (or another company) to have used this event to rack up the quantity of event racks for future events.

I am glad they are trying…but still not ‘platinum’ level.

Ayleen
Guest

Gordon Lovie is the man to call for bike rack needs. His capacity for bikes is even larger than Bike Racker – which is how Good Sport Promotion parks bikes at 3,500 person bike events like the Worst Day of the Year Ride.

Combine Bike Racker and Gordon’s racks and THOUSANDS of people could comfortably secure their bikes – at a ‘platinum’ level!

Gordon: Info@eventmgnt.com
503-643-9440

jram
Guest
jram

Question: I received and email saying no bags are allowed for security reasons. If i am biking from work, with a change of clothes, am I just out of luck? I would like to see the pres and all, but that kind of puts me in a tough spot.

Any one have any thoughts on this?

jeff, the first
Guest
jeff, the first

Maybe show up with ten friends and just u-lock all the bikes to one another on the sidewalk? I’d imagine it would be tough to steal a tangle of ten bikes 🙂

Kronda
Guest

@jram I have the same problem. And I would be coming from work with my laptop, which they don’t allow either. But I’m sure not leaving my Mac in my bike rack!

Sucks

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

The Portland Business Journal and KPTV say the event starts at 4pm – just FYI.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Doors open at 4pm, speech starts at 5pm. It’ll be crazy crowded. What to do with the bike mess. bag remains a problem… hmmm!

Red Five
Guest
Red Five

Wow Lord Obama and his sidekick Joey B… this is costing tax payers a small fortune, all to stump for a miserable man who called our state un-governable. Have fun in your traffic jams!

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

Not saying that WILL happen, but I wouldn’t put it past a city to do it in the name of “security”. Especially if your bike has a ‘my bike is a pipe bomb’ sticker..

Is there any plans to close or limit bike traffic near the Rose Quarter? With Bidens visit to Vancouver today, I heard reports that the I205 bridge was closed for 3 hours for bike/peds. Of course, car traffic was only stopped 15 minutes…
I personally would wish all Presidents and VPs avoid Portland. the negatives far outweigh any positives..

Joe R.
Guest
Joe R.

Luckily I work 3 blocks away.. will be an easy walk for me.

Shozo
Guest
Shozo

“Maybe show up with ten friends and just u-lock all the bikes to one another on the sidewalk? I’d imagine it would be tough to steal a tangle of ten bikes”

Not bike theft. Security removal.

Peter
Guest
Peter

The racks offered at many events are far inferior to the blue ones from Bike Racker. A wobbly bar 5 feet in the air is not much of a rack! Maybe good hang by the seat for a triathlon.

Stephen - NYC
Guest
Stephen - NYC

Take it from me here in New York City. Not only do we get visits from presidents, but we’ve got the united nations. Oh what fun that is every year when they all come to town.
I guess Portland has changed since I was last there – I started my Bikecentennial Trans AM ride there on Friday, the 13th of June 1980. For you history buffs out there, what happened that day in the area? Hint: It affected (as in kept us from doing so) our ability to ride north so we headed straight south.