in the South Waterfront District as seen
from the Aerial Tram.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is often featured on this blog for their bike-sensitive projects and programs. We’ve shared OHSU’s sophisticated encouragement methods used in their Bike Incentive Program, how they are incorporating bicycle use into new buildings, how they’ve contributed important academic research about bicycling, and so on. But it wasn’t always that way.
A scan of our archives show that the institution has taken an awesome trajectory from our first report on them in 2006 when we shared rumblings from staff and students that school brass didn’t respect bicycling.
My how things have changed (at least for folks who use the tram).
In their latest effort to do everything they can to make biking easy and convenient for their thousands of faculty and staff, OHSU (which has a “Gold Bike Friendly Business” rating from the League of American Bicyclists) has renewed a lease with a bike shop that is open for business under the west side of the Aerial Tram, they’ve added even more bike parking, and they’ve expanded their bike valet service. I paid the shop a visit last week to find out more…
The “Go By Bike” shop that launched last summer is back with a vengeance: the shop is up and running from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm every weekday; they offer full repair services and have basic accessories for sale; and they are now operating a new and improved bike valet service.
Go By Bike owner Kiel Johnson (yes that Kiel Johnson) said about 20 new people sign up for the bike valet each day. They are currently hitting capacity at about 100 spaces and OHSU Transportation Options coordinator (and winner of an Alice Award this year) John Landolfe confirmed yesterday that they are expanding the service to 150 spaces with the goal to, “never turn anyone away.”
The valet service itself is pretty nifty. Johnson has used his knack for resourcefulness to come up with a high-tech yet simple way of managing the system. Once someone signs up, their bike is photographed and they are given a sticker on the back of their OHSU ID card with a QR code. The QR code pulls up the customer’s contact info, the photo of their bike, and it tells the attendants what space to park the bike in. Each bike is given a plastic seat cover, which not only keeps seats dry during the rain, but also has the space number written on it to make retrieval easier.
Since all bikes must be picked up by 6:45 pm, Johnson says if a bike is left in the valet area, they simply move it to one of the nearby public racks, lock it with a loaner combination U-lock, and then text the combination to the bike’s owner.
Johnson says at first he wasn’t sold on the necessity of a bike valet; but now he’s a believer. “It’s just a nicer experience overall,” he says. And it’s very quick and easy. “People can just roll their bikes up to the valet the same way they would roll up a luxury sedan to a five star hotel and the valet, professional and fully-insured, takes it from there,” adds OHSU’s Landolfe, “The customer doesn’t need to worry about locking, removing lights, etc.” Ah, so civilized.
Another new service this year is free rental (for OHSU staff and students) of two Breezer city bikes, a CETMA, front-loading cargo bike (made in Eugene), and a Brompton folding bike.
The result of OHSU’s efforts to promote bike use have paid off. On any given day, you’ll see hundreds of bikes parked at the base of the Tram. Landolfe says they currently have capacity for 382 bikes in the Tram’s west plaza (150 in valet and 232 self-park). There is also room for 149 bikes in three secured cages below the Center for Health & Healing building.
What’s next for this fantastic partnership between OHSU and Go By Bike — and this great ongoing example of the “Build it and they will come” mantra? Landolfe says they’re considering a larger modular structure for the shop (it’s currently housed in a tiny old RV trailer).
Check out GoByBikePDX.com for more on the shop and scroll down for a few more photos…
Thanks to this partnership and investment by the City in the Moody Cycle Track, Gibbs bridge, and other things, there is something really amazing going on with transportation in the South Waterfront District. Just imagine what this area will look like in five years.