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Bikes, a perfectly normal part of growth in Portland’s Central Eastside

Posted by on March 24th, 2015 at 9:52 am

bike parking at Central Eastside Lofts-13

Parking garage at the Central Eastside Lofts.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Since we’ve taken some shots at Oregonian news coverage lately, it’s worth highlighting a moment of bike-friendly perceptiveness in their coverage.

Sunday’s cover story was the second in the paper’s occasional series about Portland’s changing Central Eastside, an “industrial sanctuary” that’s gradually been adding more office workers and, at the developing Burnside Bridgehead, several big apartment buildings.

The first installment, back in January, included some interesting perspective of what it feels like to run a truck-dependent business facing the Taylor Street neighborhood greenway. This weekend’s focused specifically on the food industry, and mentioned bicycles in the most casual way possible.

Stumptown, a relative newcomer, moved in 2012 to its headquarters in a 12,000-square-foot warehouse that previously housed a lumber yard and a computer-repair shop.

Within a few blocks are other coffee roasters, five distilleries, a half-dozen wine companies and at least two breweries. That might seem a disadvantage — customers don’t have to go out of their way to visit a competitor, and workers can decide to hang their bicycle elsewhere.

But Ricci said the creation of a fluid workforce is an advantage of being in close quarters with competitors and compatriots. There’s a large experienced workforce to draw upon. And the competition, he says, makes firms experiment and innovate.

Portland economist Joe Cortright called it a prime example of a thriving business cluster, a group of related businesses that shares workforce skills, suppliers and customers — and a neighborhood.

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Did you blink and miss that? That was a bicycle commute being presented, with zero fanfare, as such a matter-of-fact activity that a bike can serve as a synecdoche for a job.

Best of all, the mini-metaphor is appropriate. Bike commuting is a huge part of the Central Eastside. Even back in 2006-2010, the most recent years for which workplace data is available, the Census-estimated bike-commute rate into the area was 6.3 percent, the highest for any employment-zoned part of the region. By now, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one in 10 Central Eastside workers arrived by bicycle as their primary mode. Many more workers than that surely bike in occasionally during the warm-weather months.

As one of the Central Eastside’s leading developers told us in 2013, bike access for workers is a major reason companies want to move to the area. Every time an institution like The Oregonian acknowledges that reality with a turn of phrase, bicycling becomes a little less exotic to the people reading it, and a little more like what it actually is: one of several standard options for moving around your city.

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10 Comments
  • Avatar
    ricochet March 24, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Just wish any of the new development was affordable…

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      maccoinnich March 24, 2015 at 11:28 am

      20% of the apartments in the Block 67 tower will rent at prices affordable to people making 60% or lower of median family income, for at least 10 years.

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        davemess March 24, 2015 at 1:33 pm

        And what does that come out to?

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          maccoinnich March 24, 2015 at 1:46 pm

          60 of its 284 units.

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            davemess March 24, 2015 at 5:19 pm

            No, how much will they cost?

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              maccoinnich March 24, 2015 at 5:24 pm

              Between $664 for a studio and $729 for a two bedroom apartment, excluding utilities.

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                davemess March 24, 2015 at 10:14 pm

                impressive.

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley March 24, 2015 at 10:17 am

    +1 for “synecdoche”.

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    caesar March 24, 2015 at 10:26 am

    As a public service:

    SYNECDOCHE
    : a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (as fifty sail for fifty ships), the whole for a part (as society for high society), the species for the genus (as cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (as a creature for a man), or the name of the material for the thing made (as boards for stage)

    Thank you.

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    David Lewis March 24, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Probably one of the area’s newest businesses is mine! Last month Veteran Bicycle Co. just moved in to our facility on SE 2nd & Madison, and within a couple of weeks someone broke in and stole a bicycle from my shop mate, Portland Razor Co.

    I’d say the area’s highest bicycle density base lives on the street, and in the park, and by the river, and under the bridges, and they really really like bikes.

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