Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Bike racks installed at 12 local Plaid Pantry stores

Posted by on November 28th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

New bike racks at Plaid Pantry-1

This bike rack at the Plaid Pantry on SE Grand
and Burnside is one of 12 that have been recently installed.

I’ve got some great news for Portlanders who frequent Plaid Pantry convenience stores by bike.

For years, I’ve heard grumblings from readers (and have experienced it myself) about the hassle of having no bike parking at Plaid Pantry stores. It’s always been frustrating that the stores have places for people to park cars just a few feet from the entrance while customers who arrive by bike have nowhere to lock up. In Portland (which is America’s bike capital last time I checked), Plaid Pantry stores are an institution. For them to have no bike parking seemed like such a shame.

Now I’m happy to report, that because of people that cared enough to contact them and request bike parking, Plaid Pantry has just completed installing bike racks at 12 locations throughout Portland.

I first heard about this citizen effort in comments on a June 2011 story about a PSU study on how travel modes impact consumer behavior. It turns out, reader Geana Tyler had emailed Plaid Pantry about bike parking just one month prior. Tyler wrote,

“Recently I have had to pass up several locations because there was no secure place to lock my bike up while I needed to grab a few quick items. I live on SE Holgate and there are two Plaid Pantries that could see more customers if there were secure locations for us to lock our bikes to. I ended up riding to the Safeway on 122nd and Powell because they have bike racks.”

Plaid Pantry President & CEO Chris Girard replied to Tyler saying the addition of bike racks would be a “great idea” but that the sidewalks in front of his stores were too narrow and therefore didn’t meet City of Portland bike parking codes. In response to Tyler, Girard said, “I am having our Land-Use folks check to see if there is may have been a modification to the code or other alternative, so that we can better accommodate bike folks.”

Enter Plaid Pantry Administrative Manager Laura Sadowski. Sadowski heard several requests from customers about the bike parking issue and she also happens to ride herself and took a personal interest in doing something about it.

Another challenge was that most of Plaid Pantry’s stores are leased to independent operators and therefore they’d need to get permission from each landlord before making any exterior changes. When I emailed with her in June 2011, she said she was already working through these issues.

Fast Forward to September of this year. Tyler said she noticed a new rack at her local Plaid Pantry at SE 122nd and Holgate. Turns out, in response to her initial requests and emails, Plaid Pantry had installed just a few racks as a test.

Then today I received the following from Sadowski:

“In response to customer requests for a place to safely park their bikes while shopping at their local Plaid Pantry store, and input from our Field Managers, we are pleased to announce we have completed the installation of bike racks at SE 50th & Division, SE 30th & Belmont, SE 122nd Ave & Holgate, N Greeley & Rosa Parks Way, SE 12th & Morrison, N Going & Interstate, SE 112th & Division, NE 28th & Glisan, SE 20th & Burnside, SE Grand & Burnside, SE 21st & Powell, and SE 20th & Division. Thank you to those customers who helped identify those particular Plaid Pantry stores and the biking community for your patience while we installed the bike racks!”

Here’s how the racks look at the SE Grand and Burnside location:

New bike racks at Plaid Pantry-2

New bike racks at Plaid Pantry-4

New bike racks at Plaid Pantry-3

This is fantastic! Sure the racks could be more plentiful, perhaps covered, and someday they should be placed closer to the main door (how about using one of the car spaces?); but this is a great start.

Thank you Geana and everyone else who contacted Plaid Pantry. And thanks to Chris Girard and Laura Sadowski from Plaid Pantry for making it happen. Hopefully we see more of the 107 Plaid Pantry locations throughout the region add bike parking. This isn’t about just appeasing a customer request, this is about respecting customers no matter how they arrive. It’s also about competition. People who bike will go out of their way for a business that welcomes them. Not only that, but I have a hunch that Girard is well aware that the former CEO of New Seasons is opening up a chain of healthy convenience stores and you can bet those will have ample bike parking.

Please support BikePortland.

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

  • Ethan November 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I’m guessing Pabst paid for these. Enlightened self interest.

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    • Laura Sadowski November 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Plaid Pantries, Inc footed the entire bill. No vendors involved.

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      • Champs November 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm

        Tongue planted firmly in cheek.

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    • 007 November 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      The owner of Plaid Pantry rocks. He has been very active in challenging the CRC, and I believe he paid for economist Joe Cortright’s analysis/report which disputes the DOTS’ tolls calculations, future traffic count & more.

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  • Granpa November 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I just lock to the handle on the Ice machine at the Woodstock location.

    The two loop racks are installed incorrectly, rather than in-line like a ribbon rack, they should be side by side and parallel with enough room between them for two bikes and a person.

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    • Laura Sadowski November 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      The rack is a ribbon rack, or double loop rack. Because of the soft asphalt at Grand & Burnside, we had to install this one deeper. The other locations are installed in concrete and maintain the integrity of the double loop to park up to 5 bikes. Thanks for noticing!

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  • BURR November 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    It only took at least 20 years for this to happen.

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  • gl. November 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    thank you, geana!

    (now let’s get the ace hardware across from safeway to install one, too! I’ve written them twice with no response)

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  • gl. November 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    thank you, geana!

    (now let’s get the ace hardware across from safeway to install one, too! I’ve written them twice with no response)

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  • John Landolfe November 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm


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  • Andyc of Linnton November 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Hell has frozen over!

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  • Jason November 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I’m surprised it took this long, and am absolutely shocked that 7-11 (at least the one near my house) doesn’t have bike racks. I’m amazed how often I’ve walked down there for a beer run, and see unlocked bikes leaning out front. I’ve passed them up several times on the way home when on my bike.

    Also just took a minute and wrote a thank you note to Plaid Pantry. This will definitely influence my choice to stop at their stores on the way home.

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  • rwl1776 November 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    12 down, 215 to go! They just opened store #227….

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  • kww November 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    This is great news(!), but still doesn’t answer two of the most vexing questions of our time:
    1. Why is there no plaid at Plaid Pantry, and
    2. Why do they fly the Romanian flag?

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  • are November 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    i hope these photos are not a serving suggestion on how to use these racks. built for at least three, four if you want to get friendly in the middle, but oriented perpendicularly, not across.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Yeah. They really are not installed properly. Hopefully someone can advise Plaid Pantry on how to do it right.

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      • Marijane November 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm

        The rack installation looks fine to me — there’s plenty of room to orient the bike perpendicularly. I think it’s the rider who needs to be educated on how to use the rack.

        That said, I have definitely encountered bike racks in Portland installed too close to a wall to lock up bikes perpendicularly, such as the one in front of the Glisan Fred Meyer, or some of the racks I’ve seen outside businesses on Belmont. It’s a phenomenon I find very puzzling for a city that is so bike-friendly.

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        • are November 29, 2012 at 3:50 pm

          yes, my critique was with reference to how the bike was positioned, not the rack

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      • K'Tesh November 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm

        Not only are they installed improperly, it seems that one bike reporter can block half of them with a single bike 😉

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    • Spiffy November 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      the photo would suggest that you just lean your bike against the entire thing and forgo the bike lock…

      so I think it’s safe to say that they’re not instructional photos…

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  • Anthony November 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    kww, I’m pretty sure Plaid Pantry used to have plaid in the logo, but abandoned it when it started looking outdated.

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  • Rol November 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Good job Plaid Pantry. Unfortunately I can’t reward your efforts because I quit smoking, drinking coffee, eating junk food, and not planning ahead. And I cut way back on drinking. And I continue not buying newspapers, soft drinks, porn, lottery tickets or ice. Shoot.

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    • spare_wheel November 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      they sell condoms too.

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  • Allan November 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Bike Parking install fail 🙁 might as well have just installed 1 correctly

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  • JJJ November 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Why is it so hard for people to install racks correctly?

    Is it that much of a puzzle?

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  • Jeff Bernards November 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Some locations seem to have more than enough car parking, maybe just use one car parking spot for one BIG bike rack. I’m surprised it took this long too, but let’s remember that CEO Chris Girard is an early outspoken critic of the CRC bridge. He getting it one issue at a time, but he gets it.

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    • Gregg November 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Because of Plaid Pantry’s outspoken criticism of the CRC, I haven’t gone to another convenient store other than Plaid Pantry ever since.

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  • Tom November 28, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    The GoodWill on 82nd (by Clackamas Town Ctr.) doesn’t have one..I’ve spoken to supervisors who confirm that many others have the same complaint , but NO progress.
    Burger King just 50 yards down the street doesn’t either. I have to chain up to a picnic table out front.
    The PACS store on 111 & Halsey kinda has one , but it is so far from vision that it’s almost worthless. And it’s so high that it may be better suited for horses … no body uses it.
    Oh yeah, the Burger King at Mall 205 doesn’t have one either.

    In Portland, it should be mandatory for retailers.

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    • rain bike November 29, 2012 at 9:21 am

      Mandatory for all retailers? I think that a lot of small businesses would object if the city tried to force them to install bike racks. I don’t think all retailers are required to provide off-street car parking spaces.

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      • was carless November 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm

        Let me reiterate: like required car parking, bike parking should be required. For instance, 1 bike parking spot for every car parking spot. Mandatory if they repave their parking lot, ever.

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        • rain bike November 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm

          I say, let the business decide. If they want your money, as brought in by bike, they’ll install bike racks. If they don’t care that you choose to take the absence of a bike rack as a personal insult, they won’t.

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  • Todd Mobley November 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Everyone’s a critic. Kudos to Plaid Pantry for responding to customers, participating in active transportation, and seeing the benefits of accommodating bikes. Chris Girard is good people. If you think they’re installed wrong or there isn’t enough capacity, go buy something at Plaid Pantry, fill up the racks, point out that they need more spaces, and prove to them they’re making smart business decisions!

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  • Mark McClure November 28, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks, Jonathon. Plaid Pantry’s actions prompted me to remind Jackson’s tonight that another bike rack at their new store on NE 33rd, still under construction, might be nice.

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  • Todd Boulanger November 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    The downtown Vancouver Plaid Pantry has had a bike rack since it opened in 2007 (?).

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    • kittens November 29, 2012 at 12:52 am

      Vancouver’s lone bike facility.

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      • davemess November 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm

        Yet Vancouver (and not Portland) has a free floor pump for use on Main St.

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      • dmc November 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm

        Downtown Vancouver has more on street bike corals than Seattle…

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  • Hugh Johnson November 29, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I still would love to know why Portland is called “America’s Bike Capital”. Because for a lot of the city it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.

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  • LESTER November 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Last time I was at the Interstate and Going store the rack seemed really loose, so I locked up to a street sign pole.

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  • Kat November 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Last week, we baked brownies late at night, and then realized we had NO ICE-CREAM. The horror! We walked to our nearest PP on SE Burnside/MLK, and the very first thing we noticed was the new bikerack outside, being used as we walked past by a lady locking to it.

    Installing racks is an awesome move. I agree with other posters above – I am not inclined to leave my bike outside a store late at night when there is no secure bike rack. I make decisions on where to shop and spend my money based VERY much on whether I can safely lock my bike.

    Also. My favourite quote from the article – “This isn’t about just appeasing a customer request, this is about respecting customers no matter how they arrive”. Bingo.

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  • kenny November 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    They are missing SE 52nd and SE Foster. I’ve moved on several times due to lack of a rack out front. Please? Pretty Please? The 50’s Bikeway is coming in next summer!

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  • Ted Buehler November 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    I requested racks at N Interstate and Going in June, 2011 after going in there late at night to buy some stuff and not having a place to park my steed. I’m glad to see that there will soon be bike racks there. Thanks, Plaid!

    For kenny and others who have additional suggestions for Plaid racks, email and ask them to add bike racks at specified additional stores.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Duncan November 30, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Company installs bike racks+ community complains about orientation = Portland.

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  • jim December 5, 2012 at 2:02 am

    So now if we can keep the kids from blocking the sidewalks with their bikes it would be great. This is a great effort for a business that doesn’t really have a lot of money to work with.

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