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Secure gear storage: The next step for bike-friendly businesses?

Posted by on September 27th, 2013 at 11:08 am

Bike gear lockers at New Seasons-2

New Seasons on Williams Ave has gear
lockers for bike riding customers.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One of the advantages cars have over (most) bicycles is a secure, dry, roomy place to easily stash stuff. Take a look at the inside of most people’s cars and you’ll see all sorts of essential and random things in the center console, the glove box, and scattered on the seats and floor. Bikes on the other hand, are usually stripped clean when parked. This is for a variety of reasons including: the threat of thieves who will take anything that’s not bolted down; the threat of rain getting your stuff wet, and so on. For people who bike, there simply aren’t many panniers or similar products readily available that allow you to secure your stuff to your vehicle while keeping it protected from the elements (and yes, I have seen the Buca Boot on Kickstarter).

The thoughts above are why I’ve been thinking for the past few years that shops, cafes and markets might want to consider providing storage areas for cycling customers. I’ve pitched the idea of gear storage lockers to a few businesses and I’m thrilled that someone finally took me up on it.

The just-opened New Seasons Market on North Williams Avenue has 10 such lockers. If you haven’t noticed them yet it’s because they’re near the rear entrance (on NE Fremont). Here’s how they look:

Bike gear lockers at New Seasons-1

Bike gear lockers at New Seasons-4

Bike gear lockers at New Seasons-3

Now, instead of schlepping around panniers and all the other stuff you didn’t want to leave on your bike (wet rain coat, helmet, removable lights, and so on), you can just pop them in the locker, set the security code, and do your shopping.

The few times I’ve stopped in to the market recently, I’ve noticed more than half of the lockers in use. I still haven’t talked to New Seasons staff about any feedback they’ve received, so I’m curious how customers are using them and whether or not they find them useful.

If you’ve used the biking customer lockers at New Seasons on Williams, or if you have feedback on the idea in general, we’d love to hear it. If it turns out to be a worthy idea, perhaps other businesses will give it a try. (And for what it’s worth, I also think PBOT might want to consider installing gear storage lockers near on-street bike corrals for similar reasons.)

And one last thing, I’ll just add that it’s been great working with New Seasons on bike-related stuff because — as they’ve demonstrated in the past — they’re open and willing to try new things and they’re committed to making their store as bike-friendly as possible.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Nick September 27, 2013 at 11:25 am

    These are 99.9% fantastic. This being BikePortland and all, I can’t resist the temptation to be a language Nazi about that 0.1%…

    The “cyclists” word is vaguely off-putting for regular people who don’t label themselves as fanatical “ists”. “Gear” is similar — it seems aimed at the jocky, sporty type person who would love the term “gear”. Regular people have “stuff”, not “gear”.

    Again, this is a tiny nitpick, and these lockers are a very positive addition to the store that I hope other businesses start copying. Good job New Seasons!

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      I hear you Nick. I was slightly disappointed to see that word used myself, but given what I know about New Seasons and my general approach to the language thing (give people a chance to learn and change), I haven’t mentioned it to them yet. They worked hard to get the store ready and did a ton of bike-related stuff. I’m sure eventually when/if the graphics are ever changed, we might get this sorted out. (FWIW they also did the classic “Share the Road” with a bicycle symbol on signage out front on the same week we posted about how that term is not the best to use).

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    • davemess September 27, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Can we have it both ways? Many cycling evangelists want to tout the health benefits of cycling, but then if some one uses the wrong term referring to cycling as a “sport” or physical activity, we bristle. So which is it?

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      • Nick September 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm

        Sport and physical activity are two pretty distinct things in my mind. My wife walks the kids to school and back every day. It’s great physical activity, but no one would mistake it for sport.

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        • soren December 16, 2014 at 11:23 am

          sport is a large subset of physical activity. i do not understand why there is a need to insist on a black and white distinction between cycling for transport and cycling for exercise/sport. while “normalizing” of cycling is a laudable goal, the idea that this “normalization” has to be non-sporty is kind of strange. to make an analogy: walkers rarely complain about power walkers in yoga pants.

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          • soren December 16, 2014 at 11:24 am


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    • Steve September 30, 2013 at 10:36 am

      So when you go to buy “things” to keep you dry while riding your bicycle in the rain do you ask where the “rain stuff ” is?

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  • Spiffy September 27, 2013 at 11:36 am

    what if you forget and leave your stuff in there? does New Seasons clear it out at the end of the day?

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  • Spiffy September 27, 2013 at 11:37 am

    every building with metal detectors should have these… I hate that I can’t bicycle to the courthouse…

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    • Joseph E September 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      Why can’t you ride your bike to the courthouse? I did when I had juror duty, and I brought my bag in with me.

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  • deborah schultz September 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    This is SO smart. There are so many times when i’m out running errands and have amassed a bunch of purchases that keep me from making another stop. Or if I’m coming home from work and have my laptop with me I’m less likely to stop because i don’t want to lug it around in the store. I can see picking this store to shop at over others simply for the benefit of somewhere safe to store my stuff while i shop (or decide to grab a beer and food down the street).

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  • Tom September 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    What about bombs and terrorism? How can we possibly be safe if places start having lockers again? Why won’t anyone think of the children? What if someone uses the locker and gets a parking ticket later in the day? Wouldn’t that be promoting criminal behavior?

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  • kittens September 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Great idea. Though, i think they need to be higher and a counter under them so you can set your belongs there while transferring. I think the corridor is probably too narrow.

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  • Bjorn September 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    I think Alta should consider a similar rental locker placement at ever bike rental kiosk. The city should also consider placing lockers in the on street bike parking that they have replaced some curbside parking spots with. I think a small rental fee could easily pay off the installation of the equipment.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Wow Bjorn. Great minds think alike I guess ;-). I think so too. I’ve already mentioned to PBOT that the bike corral locations would be perfect places to put up a row of storage lockers (and they could double as billboards for bike maps, bulletin boards, and other city messages).

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    • El Biciclero September 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Don’t tell Homeland Security(tm)–lockers are great places to leave “unattended bags”, especially if they are on the street and accessible at all hours… I wouldn’t be surprised if “security” were cited as a reason not to provide security for personal belongings in a public space.

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      • Bjorn September 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm

        There is really no difference between a locker and a car trunk, vague “terrorism” concerns don’t strike me as a good reason not to implement a short term locker system in portland.

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  • fiets503 September 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    a side table or counter is a GREAT idea!

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  • Josh G September 27, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I can’t see myself going to the trouble of using this at a grocery. I appreciate the stores that have the smaller “yuppy” carts (for maneuvrability) but will throw anything I have into any cart. Last I checked carts are waterproof and can stand a wet coat. What’s the downside?

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    • Heidi September 30, 2013 at 5:51 am

      Maybe that you’re dripping water that other patrons might slip on? Just brainstorming.

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  • Shyla O. September 28, 2013 at 8:41 am

    These should be available with bike parking stands and corrals, too–like the one next to Freddie’s on Hawthorne. How nice it would be to stash your panniers and stroll with the other unencumbered shoppers…

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