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.
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?