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Check out the beautiful bike parking at Pacific Northwest College of Art

Posted by on April 16th, 2015 at 10:44 am

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With room for 42 bikes right up front, PNCA is doing it right.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

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.

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Note the ample distance between the staples and the building. This not only allows for plenty of clearance — even for long/cargo bikes — but it also gives people room to breathe and relax. The staples also have plenty of room between them so bikes don’t bang into each other.
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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.

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22 Comments
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    Buzz April 16, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Where’s the weather protection for all those parking spaces? They should be covered, and protected from both sun and rain.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 16, 2015 at 10:55 am

      I thought that too Buzz! I said they were beautiful, but not yet perfect. They should be covered eventually. I haven’t heard any plans for that yet though.

      Another thing they need — and all bike corrals like this need — is 24/7 lighting and video camera monitoring.

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    RH April 16, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Interesting how the “Garden” racks are emptier compared to the staple racks. Are they further from the front door? Are people unsure that they are bike racks? Maybe it’s just because it was a nice sunny day.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 16, 2015 at 11:23 am

      RH,

      Yes, they are all the way at the other end of the block from the front door. And yes, people might not understand how to use them. The other problem with those racks is they require people to lift their bikes — which isn’t something everyone feels comfortable with or is able/wants to do.

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    q`Tzal April 16, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Get 50-75 of these upright “pedal” racks.
    Arrange so they are all facing inwards.
    On the back side of the racks facing outwards securely attach wrought-iron in an English Ivy motif such that it restricts access.
    Still working on ideas for components of this “Secret Bike Garden”.

    Whatever it is it simply must have style or the art college will never live it down.

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    Todd Boulanger April 16, 2015 at 11:23 am

    I was assuming that this redevelopment might have reconfigured the loading dock for access to an interior secure bike parking area…given the historic strong demand for long term bike parking at this institution. Looks like they reinstalled the most if not all of the preexisting racks from their previous campus site.

    I guess this layout fulfills the City code for long term parking (“covered” and CCTV/ guard protected) in a new development.

    [Perhaps a student or faculty member can chime in on what is provided on the inside?]

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    dachines April 16, 2015 at 11:51 am

    If used thoughtfully by the users, most staple racks can accommodate 4 bikes! That would put PNCA’s total at 78 bikes.

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      Gary April 17, 2015 at 9:13 am

      Also, are those petal racks not double-sided? They sure look it. That puts it at 48 with 2/staple, 84 if you went 4/staple.

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    Adam H. April 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Looks great! For a second, I thought this was in Europe or something.

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      MarkV April 16, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Have you ever been to Amsterdam and seen the bike parking outside Centraal Station? This looks nothing like that… That is what we should aspire to, not 7-page documents (whoop-de-f*cking-doo) that PBOT considers to be “platinum”.

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    maccoinnich April 16, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    A little OT, but the interior of the building is really fantastic. I’d strongly encourage people to stop by on a First Thursday and look around.

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      N. Park Blocks April 16, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      A little OT too, Maccoinnich, but what is the story with the PNCA “Park Block”? Thought the plan was for it to be a continuation of the North Park Blocks, but seems they just have gravel on it and are using it as a new auto parking lot. Is it even legal to have a gravel parking lot in the central city? Please tell me there is a future actual park block here and not a plan for a parking garage block!

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        maccoinnich April 16, 2015 at 10:38 pm

        Portland Parks & Recreation already owns that block, and development of it is included in the recently published 20-Year Capital Plan (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/526301). Unfortunately it’s impossible to tell when they’re planning on spending SDC monies on any individual project. Of the 7 projects listed on page 7 under “Total Estimated New Park Development” I’d say it’s the most likely candidate for the $2 million allocated to FY2017‐18, but that’s just a guess.

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          maccoinnich April 16, 2015 at 10:42 pm

          Taking this even further off topic, there’s lots of interesting projects listed in that document. Of relevance to the readership of this site is the fact that there’s $36,719,956 allocated to trails over the next 20 years. I would *cough* love to see a story on this.

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            N Park Blocks April 17, 2015 at 10:28 pm

            $36 million for trails from SDCs!? Wow! Would also love to know more about how those could be utilized. That is also great to know that Portland Parks owns the block. Why is it then being used as a gravel car parking lot? Thought gravel lots could not be used for parking in the city and there was a moratorium on new surface lots?

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              maccoinnich April 18, 2015 at 9:58 am

              The parking lot isn’t new – looking at Google Earth historical imagery it’s been there at least since 1990. That it’s still a parking lot now that PNCA is open is regrettable, but I think (hope) they’re just waiting until they have funding to develop it as a park.

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    Todd Boulanger April 16, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Great idea!

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  • John Liu
    John Liu April 16, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Covered parking is nice. Here, though, how would you put a roof over the bike racks that wouldn’t obscure that beautiful old building facade?

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    was carless April 18, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Aside from the bike parking, the landscaping is seriously lacking. Will they do some redesign when they add the remaining part of the block as a park block? Is that still on the table?

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