City drops 84 bike parking spaces into East Portland parking lots

epo bike parking duo

The city created a process for East Portland businesses to request free bike staples in exchange for dedicating space in their parking lots and maintaining the racks.
(Photos by David Hampsten)

Portland may have just cracked a very important puzzle: How can the public provide convenient bike parking in neighborhoods where the front door of a business is half a football field away from the sidewalk?

The city just wrapped up a project that bought metal bike racks in bulk and donated them to interested businesses, who in turn agreed to maintain the racks along with the rest of their private parking lots.

The city council had to pass a special exception in its bike code to do it, but the result will be a major convenience upgrade for patrons of the 12 businesses that are getting these new corrals. In our week reporting from East Portland last month, Jonathan and I noticed the huge shortage of bike parking east of Interstate 205, which surely reduces biking rates and increases bike theft. Here’s the city’s Google Map of the destinations that have just received new bike staples or corrals:

“East Portlanders had long flagged the lack of bicycle parking as one of the barriers to meeting daily needs by bike,” the city wrote in its article about the project, published Monday.

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After the city council changed its code to allow the public to donate bike racks to private businesses, “East Portland community activists then helped identify potential locations and PBOT staff worked to secure business and property owner agreements.”

Most of the money for the racks and negotiations were paid for by the East Portland Action Plan after being called for by East Portland in Motion, a work plan identified by neighborhood leaders and the city to make biking and walking easier in these neighborhoods that were developed with only cars in mind.

Here’s the catch: the process of getting all the necessary parties to sign off on these corrals — business managers, business owners, property managers, property owners and everyone’s lawyers — was so complicated that the city is unlikely to install any more racks unless businesses or residents do much of that legwork themselves in the future.

“We’re seeing this as a completed project for now,” Portland Bureau of Transportation bike parking specialist Scott Cohen said. “I had to work pretty hard to find the 12 locations. it wasn’t like people were knocking down my door asking me to do this. … If there’s a ton of business interest and we get a ton of the business community coming back to us asking for these, we’ll look at it again.”

Portland’s on-street bike parking program, surely one of the nation’s best, grew out of a single corral installed on North Mississippi Avenue. Nearby businesses saw the benefits, asked for their own and the common-sense idea spread. Whether the same process can repeat in a different environment will, at least for now, be up to East Portland retailers and biking advocates.

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9watts
9watts
8 years ago

Nice to see PBOT go to the lengths they apparently had to to make this happen. Nice also to see a vintage mountain bike (even if it is the same one in both photos) stashed in the new racks.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
8 years ago

This is great news (other than it might be the last) as the public investment in off street parking is common for motorized vehicles but until now very rare for bicycles. Many communities say it is impossible to do this for bicycles. Good job to all.

gl.
gl.
8 years ago

THANK YOU to EPAP, EPIM and Cohen (no first name?). I’ve been requesting a place to lock a bike in the Powell Villa for years (there aren’t even sign poles!).

Hales threatened to cut support for EPAP when he first arrived in office but then extended it a year. It deserves continued funding to make further progress!

Cora Potter
Cora Potter
8 years ago
Reply to  gl.

YES Ace Hardware!!!!

gl.
gl.
8 years ago
Reply to  Cora Potter

They are several miles closer to me, but after a couple of trips and requests for bike parking I finally wrote them to say it was easier for me to bike to Home Depot on Johnson Creek than it was to deal with parking at Ace Hardware.

gl.
gl.
8 years ago
Reply to  gl.

Thanks for adding Scott’s first name and title to the story, Michael.

David Amiton
David Amiton
8 years ago

Excellent process and stellar implementation! Now rinse and repeat with 12 cycle tracks in a single go!!

BIKELEPTIC
8 years ago

It looks like the non-profits went cray-cray with that sign up since it seems from that map the majority of bike parking was put in non-profit orgs?
I’d just be happy to have a staple at the 82nd & Tillamook Plaid. . . or the 82nd & Sandy 7-11. In fact now that I think of it, pretty much no businesses on 82nd have bike racks. Now it sounds like I only go to convenience stores.

Scott
8 years ago
Reply to  BIKELEPTIC

Feel free to request a bike rack through the web address or email above for any place that’s missing a rack. I can’t promise we can always install one (this article attests to the difficulties of providing bike racks in certain parts of the city) but I will try.

Scott Cohen
8 years ago
Reply to  Scott

Or by calling 503-823-5345

Scott Cohen
8 years ago
Reply to  Scott Cohen

Or by the email I forgot to include. I do know how to comment on blogs, I promise…bikeparking@portlandoregon.gov

gl.
gl.
8 years ago
Reply to  Scott

Scott, thank you for going through the awkward and convoluted work to make this happen for Outer SE. I imagine it was frustrating. Now that you have an idea of how it works in these unusual situations, I hope it gets easier for you and that the process becomes more routine. And now I have a place to send Outer SE businesses when I request bike parking. Thank you again!

Cora Potter
Cora Potter
8 years ago
Reply to  BIKELEPTIC

Fubonn has like —2 staples. (They need like 20 million).

Scott Mizée
8 years ago

Well Done PBOT! Scott Cohen, thank you for all the hard work you did to make this happen! What a great move toward making biking easier in East Portland. I’m looking forward to seeing more action like this in the future. (with the workload more spread out, of course!)

gl.
gl.
8 years ago

Scott, thank you for going through the awkward and convoluted work to make this happen for Outer SE. I imagine it was frustrating. Now that you have an idea of how it works in these unusual situations, I hope it gets easier for you and that the process becomes more routine. And now I have a place to send Outer SE businesses when I request bike parking. Thank you again!