When the Pacific Northwest College of Art moved, they made sure one crucial piece of their old campus came with them: the bike parking.
The first time I rode by their old home on NW 13th and Johnson and noticed the racks were gone, I was sad. The racks at PNCA are one of the largest mass bike parking facilities in the city. They’re also artistic. But beyond that, the racks themselves transcend utility.
The “Pedal Garden” at PNCA was designed as a memorial to Tracey Sparling, the 19-year-old former student who died in a traffic collision while biking to class in October 2007.
That history made me all the more pleased when I finally went to check out PNCA’s new location at NW Glisan and Broadway. The school spent $34 million to transform a grand old historic post office building. And right out front of the main entrance they’ve installed their old bike racks. The Pedal Garden is blooming once again.
PNCA now has what I consider one of the best and most beautiful bike parking facilities in the entire city. 18 staples and six covered “Garden” spaces. That’s enough room for 42 bikes.
The key to the new installation is that it’s right up front. That’s important for many reasons: the good visibility deters thieves; it makes biking that much more convenient; and perhaps most importantly, it forces everyone who drives and parks in the campus’s surface parking lot to walk by it everyday. Seeing the bike racks is a gentle reminder to all visitors visits that biking is possible, encouraged, and respected.
From the few times I’ve observed the racks since these photos were taken, they have another quality that sets them apart. They’re almost always full. Like a successful street design, the true measure of good bike parking is whether or not anyone actually uses it. When I’ve watched the PNCA bike racks, I almost always see people coming and going, talking and mingling as they lock up or roll away.
To go with the racks, PNCA promotes biking to new students and staff and their student wellness department offers bike safety workshops. It’s no surprise that about one-third of the PNCA community gets to campus by bike.