of a bike shelter at Daimler Trucks HQ
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Daimler Trucks North America, a commercial truck manufacturer based on Swan Island, celebrated a decidedly non-motorized achievement this morning: They opened a bike parking shelter near the main entrance of their corporate headquarters.
The new shelter can fit up to 53 bicycles in a space previously used to park just five cars. Daimler project manager Rich Wipf said demand for bike parking from Daimler’s 3,000 Swan Island employees (1,500 at corporate HQ) has increased significantly in recent years. “Some of our employees remember when just one rack was enough. Now we’ve got racks near all the entrances and they’re all filling up.”
Erik Weeman, a mechanical engineer, said there were only “a handful” of riders when he started working at Daimler two years ago. Now the existing bike racks quickly fill up in the morning. “Unless you get here early, your bike would be left out in the rain if you could even find a spot.”
The new shelter, which cost Daimler about $70,000, includes: interior LED lighting; a security camera; 24/7 key-card entry; and a bike repair stand (made by Dero) with an air pump and tools. The racks are split between roll-in and hanging racks.
Part of the inspiration for the new shelter came from a similar facility at the northwest Portland headquarters of Con-Way trucking. Daimler’s Dave Panchot, who’s also president of the Swan Island Business Association, said he noticed the Con-Way bike parking facility a few years ago. “I thought it would be a great idea for our corporate headquarters as well.”
For Weeman and other employees, this is just the latest sign that Daimler and other businesses on Swan Island respect — and expect — people to ride bikes to work. Bruno Banceu, who works in Daimler’s wind tunnel testing lab, said having a place to park out of the rain is, “very important.” “I’m always tempted to bring my bike into my office,” Banceu said, “but that’s against company policy.” Juergen Orlich works on Daimler’s powertrain design team. Out of the six people on his team, four have started biking to work. “We’re a truck company,” he said, “but more and more people are riding.” Orlich has no doubt the new parking facility will help encourage even more people to give riding a try. “Absolutely it will help. If there’s one bike hanging in here, other people with see it and think, ‘Hey, I could ride my bike as well.'”
As employees who arrived to work by car craned their necks to see what all the excitement was about near the bike shelter, Weeman added that, “This is huge. It can open people’s minds up to riding and for all the excuses they might have this crosses many of them off their list.”
Far from just a place to park bikes, this new bike parking shelter is a symbol of the burgeoning bike culture at Daimler Trucks and on Swan Island in general. The person working to connect this rise in bike use on Swan Island to more bike-friendly policies and infrastructure is Sarah Angell, director of the Swan Island Transportation Management Association. Prior to cutting the ribbon this morning, Angell called the facility, “A milestone that charts how far many of you have come… This bike station represents all the miles you’ve traveled. It’s here because they were running out of room, and that’s a good thing.”