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City responds after bike share station locations spur complaints

Posted by on July 13th, 2016 at 11:01 am

Biketown station on North Mississippi and Skidmore where an on-street bike corral used to be. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Biketown station on North Mississippi and Skidmore where an on-street bike corral used to be.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Besides the bikes themselves, the stations are the most visible part of the Biketown bike share system that’s set to launch six days from today. And not surprisingly, as the bright orange stations are installed on streets and sidewalks throughout Portland, their presence has stoked anger and confusion.

We’ve already covered the confusion: People are locking their own bikes to the racks which are intended solely for Biketown bikes. That issue is likely to disappear once the Biketown bikes show up next week.

Then just as that story died down a bit, we heard concerns from readers via comments that the City of Portland has torn out existing bike parking corrals in front of businesses and replaced them with bike share stations. Also yesterday, I fielded a call from a southeast Portland resident who was angry when she woke up, looked outside her house and saw that the space where she used to park her car was now a row of 18 Biketown racks.

What’s going on? Here’s what the city says…

Portland now has four fewer bike parking corrals

The new station in front of Widmer on North Russell at Interstate has replaced a bike corral.(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The new station in front of Widmer on North Russell at Interstate has replaced a bike corral.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’ve confirmed that the Bureau of Transportation has removed four bike corrals in order to make room for Biketown stations. The locations are: North Mississippi and Skidmore (at Prost); North Russell and Interstate (at Widmer Brothers Pub); NW 21st and Johnson (at City Market); and NW Thurman and 24th (at Dragonfly Coffeehouse).

According to PBOT Communications Director John Brady the decision to remove the corrals was based on conversations with business owners and an analysis of demand at the corrals and availability of nearby bike parking options. “In removing the corrals, our overall goal was to balance the needs of all users,” Brady said via email yesterday. “We will continue to monitor the situation, and we will revisit our decision if we find that it is warranted by the demand for bike parking.” If one of the businesses wants more standard bike racks on the sidewalk, PBOT is ready and willing to install them (note the the removed corrals and the new bike share stations were located in the street, not on the sidewalk).

Brady went on to say that the city still has over 3,000 bike racks within the Biketown service area map and more than 6,000 bike racks citywide. And for people who feel like the city should have kept the corrals and added the bike share stations alongside them, Brady added, “It is important to note that the demand on the public right of way in each of these locations is high. Our challenge was to balance the need for good parking with the need for Biketown stations and car parking.”

Want more bike parking? Brady says there’s an email address for that: bikeparking@portlandoregon.gov.

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Welcome to the neighborhood, Biketown!

Image of residential Biketown station posted to Twitter by @twjpdx23. (The number is the city's Biketown hotline).

Image of residential Biketown station posted to Twitter by @twjpdx23. (The number is the city’s Biketown hotline).

We’ve also heard directly from one Portland resident who says she and her neighbors are not pleased (at all) with the bright orange bike racks in the street in front of their houses. KGW-TV ran a story this week about a similar complaint.

As you might guess, residents of inner Portland who have seen tremendous growth in nearby commercial districts and lots of infill development are already highly stressed when it comes to parking spaces. Now they’re waking up and seeing strange orange bike racks where they used to park their cars.

We asked Brady to respond to these concerns. He stressed that all 100 bike share stations are being installed in the public right-of-way “which is shared space.” When PBOT and their contractor, Motivate Inc., chose station locations Brady said their goal was to, “balance the needs of the different types of travelers who use this shared space.”

As for the claim that Anderson and her neighbors were never notified, Brady pointed to the extensive public process PBOT started last spring. “We received over 4,600 comments on the station locations between the online interactive map and five open houses. In addition, we presented at over 40 stakeholder meetings and events,” he said. And while he acknowledges PBOT did not notify individual households, he says they did email every neighborhood association, district coalition, and business association about the project’s open houses. “We then hand walked a postcard to every business along all the main street corridors on the east side of the river,” Brady continued, “along with NW 23rd and NW 21st. To further communicate with the public, we issued a news release about the station siting process and the open houses. As a result, the planning process received widespread media coverage.”

A station on SE 7th at Burnside that one of our readers says negatively impacts walking and wheelchair access space.(Photo: David Goodyke)

A station on SE 7th at Burnside that one of our readers says negatively impacts walking and wheelchair access space.
(Photo: David G.)

Despite PBOT’s defenses, these stations are likely to continue to be unloved and highly scrutinized by some Portlanders. We’ve also heard from people concerned about stations placed on sidewalks where the bikes are likely to impact the walking and rolling (for wheelchair uses) space.

In my opinion, this debate is reasonable, worthy and completely expected. Make no mistake about it: Biketown is a new transit system that’s being overlayed onto existing infrastructure. It represents major changes to our city on many levels — both physical and mental. Add to that its hi-viz orange color and Nike branding (remember that just 12 years ago Portland residents firebombed Starbucks when it moved into inner southeast) and we shouldn’t be surprised that these changes will be uncomfortable for some people.

The good news is that Portland isn’t the first city to experience these bike share growing pains. In fact where the 66th city to go through it. And the wisdom of experience tells us that usually the pains subside dramatically once the system is actually launched and we have that collective “a-ha!” moment as happy people start pedaling around on shared bikes.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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MaxD
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MaxD

That is a pretty mealy-mouthed way of saying “The City of Portland is committed to preserving the convenience of free/cheap, on-street parking over the accessibility of pedestrians, supporting bike commuters with secure parking or even our new bike share system”

eawrist
Guest
eawrist

Having used the CaBi system in DC for a while, I’ve seen a lot of people biking on the sidewalk (and do it myself a fair amount). Most of the stations are on the sidewalk. Paired with a lack of bike lanes, it makes for a lot of annoyed people walking. I empathize with them.

This pattern may happen in Portland as well. I’m glad to see a lot of the Biketown stations are on the street. It’s clear sidewalks should be for people walking, but when streets are designed exclusively for cars, it’s the only consistently safe place.

Adam
Subscriber

I agree, that 7th at Burnside station looks like it will block the sidewalk. There’s a perfectly good parking space right next to it to use. IMO, all the stations should be in the roadway. They’d be especially useful as a buffer of a protected bike lane.

I don’t think the loss of four bike corrals is a huge deal, although it does seem odd to remove them after only talking with “business owners”. They don’t own the public right-of-way any more than I own the car parking space in from of my house. They are not the ones who would be using the rack, their customers are, and it’s not like the business can speak for all of its customers.

That being said, I think these minor concessions are worth the huge benefits that bike share will bring. I look forward to hundreds of orange bikes begriming our streets. 🙂

ethan
Guest
ethan

There are twice as many public car parking spots in downtown than there are public bike racks in ALL of Portland.

The person complaining about the removal of “their” parking space can go about 20 feet in any direction and find a place to park. For people biking, sometimes there are no places to park within a half mile or more.

Abide
Guest
Abide

With removal of the corral at Prost, it now matches its sister property Stammtisch, which also has crap for bike parking.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I see plenty of places to park a car in that picture. And why do people feel entitled to the spot in front of their house, anyway? I don’t buy a home with the expectation that the city will enable me to park my bicycle out front. Why are cars different?

Maxadders
Guest
Maxadders

I commuted over 2500 miles by bike last year and yet I don’t want a bikeshare station in front of my house.

Classic case of the city council looking out for its own special interests first, the needs of its consituents last. This is a service to bolster Portland’s sagging reputation as a bike friendly city, nothing much more. Basically a very expensive way to promote tourism and glowing yuptastic magazine articles, burden placed firmly on people who’ll rarely, if ever use this albatross of a system.

J_R
Guest
J_R

The 7th and Burnside station looks like a disaster for several reasons. Bikes will clearly block most of the pedestrian access along the sidewalk; bicyclists attempting to use any of the middle racks will have a difficult time getting around parked bikes or between parked cars on one side and the fence on the other; extracting a bike from racks will likely cause bikes to bump into and scratch cars; car doors on the passenger side will swing into parked bikes.

Traffic engineers have learned that the aisle for cars in a parking lot requires almost as much space as the parking space itself. I don’t see any reason the same standard doesn’t apply to bicycle parking.

Massive failure to anticipate. I wonder how many racks will need to be relocated during the first month.

RH
Guest
RH

I guess I just don’t see Widmer as a huge destination for bike share for it to merit removal of the bike coral. 20 bike share spots?!

Isaac Rabinovitch
Guest
Isaac Rabinovitch

‘He stressed that all 100 bike share stations are being installed in the public right-of-way “which is shared space.” ‘

This is true. But completely unknown to residents who routinely post signs telling people not to park. People turn into utter idiots when they can’t find a place to park.

RH
Guest
RH

The prost coral was a very popular one too

Ted Buehler
Guest

Um, I hope PBOT isn’t allowing permanent removal of existing Bike Corrals in favor of bikeshare parking.

Especially on Mississippi Ave — the Bike Corrals there are very popular and need to be upsized, not removed…

Ted Buehler

daisy
Guest
daisy

I do think PBOT should have sent out postcards to folks who live, say, within a few houses or a block of new bike share stations, especially if it’s in a more residential area and not replacing existing bike corrals.

I get postcard from the City for lots of work happening near me. For example, there’s some drainage work happening on a different street, more than a block away from me, but the City notified us. Thanks, City!

I also think it’s disingenuous to say that this was in the news. Yes, it was, but it’s a big jump for folks to hear about a new city bikeshare system and then to have a new corral in front of their house.

That PBOT handwalked a postcard to all business owners says they got the commercial part of their outreach correct. Printing and mailing, what, 500 or so more postcards for residents might have saved them a few headaches.

rick
Guest
rick

bizarre planning

AMA
Guest
AMA

Judging by the graph, we must be getting close to launch….

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2013/05/bike-share-graph-gauging-public-opinion.html

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

One day our grandchildren ( or even children) will look back on us as they are living in caves and hunting rats with sticks because the habitability of the earth was wreaked by climate change. They will wonder why we didn’t do something to stop it. Our best explanation will be: because we would have had to walk another 20 feet to park our car.

Madeleine Anderson-Clark
Guest
Madeleine Anderson-Clark

I contacted both Maurice Henderson and Steve Hoyt-McBeth regarding the SE 37th location, and the lack of neighborhood notification or discussion. Both men told me that they worked closely with the neighborhood association to pick the exact station location and the bar the rack was in front of approved the location. My SE uplift Richmond liaison had never heard this topic raised and had attended every meeting for 2 years.

Maurice Henderson, the assistant director told me that Rachel’s Ginger Beer specifically approved the location. This was also untrue as outlined in the email correspondence below. Both men were hostile and unwilling to talk about options and processes for moving the station.

Rachel’s Gingerbeer Email Correspondence:

Hi Madeleine,
Thanks for reaching out! I’m afraid you’ve been given the wrong information. We were never given a chance to approve (or even weigh in on) the location, we were only notified it was going to be installed (the email we received from Biketown is copied below). If we had been given the chance to approve or reject the plan, we would have said no.

It’s city parking, anyway, not sure why they’d seek the approval of a private business that isn’t even there yet. Maybe the landlord of the building approved it? Although it also seems unlikely he’d approve it, if he had any say, since both the residents and the businesses would want parking.

I’m sorry to hear they didn’t even ask the people most impacted! If I were you I’d be furious, too.

I’m going to email Biketown, as that’s the only contact I have, to see if there’s any way to stop this train from leaving the station, but I’m guessing the wheels are already in motion.

On our par, we’ll certainly do our best to be mindful of our neighbors. We look forward to meeting all of you!

all the best,
doh driver
operations manager
rachelsgingerbeer.com

> On Jul 12, 2016, at 8:51 PM, Shopify Notification wrote:
>
> Contact Form Submission:
>
> Name: Madeleine Anderson-Clark
> Email: m.anderson.clark@gmail.com
> Body: I own a house right next to your new Portland location, and my neighbors and I are upset that the Bikeshare station blocks the only two parking spots on 37th in front of your new bar. I was told by PBOT that Rachel’s approved the location.
>
> Parking on SE 37th Ave is already extremely stressed due to the McMenamins and there is a giant bike rack already placed on the street across from your bar. My driveway is constantly blocked, my neighbors and I often have to park a half a mile away from our homes. This means toting groceries and small children through the rain.
>
> Do you plan to provide alternate parking or completely discourage your patrons from driving? The residents of 37th Ave were never asked their opinion about the placement of the Biketown rack. Please know you are on the corner of bustling Hawthorne and a residential street full of homeowners and children. Respect needs to be shown to the neighbors.

Whether this program is a fantastic avenue to get people on bikes, or simply a feather in the cap of PBOT and a hassle for neighbors, the process is corrupt and flawed.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

The Taylor/39th person is just upset about losing “their” parking space.

Many neighbors knew nothing about biketown until this one person got notice of the rack being installed in front of their rental duplex (without onsite parking) and started complaining. The pro-parking crowd suddenly became interested, with plenty of Fritz-like suggestions.

———–

That pictured Burnside/7th rack does look problematic.

Plenty of questionable decisions being made in an effort to preserve on-street parking at/near influential businesses.

Madeleine Anderson-Clark
Guest
Madeleine Anderson-Clark

Jeff, I want to respond to you. I spoke with the Taylor/39th gentleman today, and he is not at all entitled. I’m used to having to walk quite far to my car as well, and up until now have never complained. The issue is that PBOT handled this poorly and did not actually seek neighborhood input, although Maurice Henderson and Steve Hoyt-McBeth falsely swore the neighborhood associations picked the locations.

The only input was from a website the actual neighbors were oblivious to that sought suggestions for stations. I’m not sure who offered the suggestions, but it was certainly no one living on my street or Taylor. We have repeatedly called PBOT for an explanation of the process.

PBOT is also not offering any avenues for moving the stations or even discourse, and is lying about their methods. There always needs to be a system of checks and balances.

Please don’t think that opposition to the station locations is opposition to a robust cycling community, fewer cars on the road or safe streets for pedestrians and cyclists. The opposition is to the process and the lack of transparency, and neighborhood need and support. My neighbors and I all own bikes and ride them often to ease traffic. We utilize and appreciate the bike network that has been set up, but just want a voice in city policies and development that affect us.

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

Portland, Oregon residents firebombed the Starbucks. Portland, New California residents do not care. Nike bikes for everyone!

Bob K
Guest
Bob K

People probably complained when TriMet removed auto parking spaces to create stops decades ago. This, too, shall pass.

joel
Guest
joel

growing up in portland i noticed almost everyone has a driveway and a garage? when you get a house without one its a choice you make. i love it when my neighbors complain about me parking my car in front of their home in the street. the street is public. i could see you complaining about public streets being taken over by private interests like biketown, but what about your private car parked in everyones street.

if your driveway is blocked have it towed. the person with the duplex made the decision when they got the place to not have parking that belongs to them.

all of ladds edition has parking through the alleys that have been converted into secondary dwellings. (not all but a lot). its a choice people make. buying a home, a car, a bike.

im stoked to see these orange racks everywhere. i hope this works. im stoked about hotels loaning bikes, i was stoked about portland yellow bikes back in 1990. i think its so cool there is more bikes being made available, and bikes take up probably less than a percent of street parking- anyone got a statistic on that. probably street space given to bikes is less than a percent. not so hard. i hope one of these racks goes in front of my house (although i will probably not use these). we are so lucky. also hope nike keeps it to a low profile on the advertising- though thanks nike- even though i protested you in 99. thanks for being with us.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Is Nike still using third world slave labor to make their $200 Air Jordans?

Jolly Dodger
Guest
Jolly Dodger

Kickbacks, graft and bribes. Wouldve been more sensible to subsidize a tri-met partnership. Put the sharing stations near transit stops and MAX platforms. But,….Nike money is easier to split between city council members I guess. This has become more about Nike rebranding their sad bike reputation and poor labor practices with a bit of bright paint and press releases.

Madeleine Anderson-Clark
Guest
Madeleine Anderson-Clark

There is a huge bike rack on the street (not sidewalk) in front of the Bagdad that is never more than half full. Bikes have a ton of parking here. My issue is PBOT was not transparent about the methods, and two leaders in PBOT lied about these methods to me yesterday.

I’m not typically reactionary, and have never been upset about anything bicycle related, but I’m sure that all of you would at least want a vote. No one told anyone on my street that this was happening, except Rachel’s, which was sent a note. I don’t mind walking several blocks to my car. I do mind the situation being made worse on a street that I pay a ton of taxes to live on without a say. We were not even given the option to evaluate the program.

Madeleine Anderson-Clark
Guest
Madeleine Anderson-Clark

Adam, what exactly was the public process? When I called PBOT yesterday I was told my Richmond Neighborhood Association chose the site and Rachel’s Gingerbeer also approved it by Steve Hoyt-McBeth and Maurice Henderson from PBOT. I found out today that neither of these steps actually occurred. If I was ignorant and missed my chance to vote, shame on me. But this didn’t happen.

Adam, I don’t own the street, and am not entitled to park right outside of my house. But collectively we have to decide on how transportation and resources are managed, and I am sure that everyone on this forum want a voice in decisions that directly affect your neighborhood. Have a lovely day, and I hope everyone gets on their bikes in the sun:)

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

“Southeast Portland resident who was angry when she woke up, looked outside her house and saw that the space where she used to park her car was now a row of 18 Biketown racks”

I’d be pissed if the city installed a bike rack in my driveway. i.e. If you do not own a place to park your car, you have no cause to complain about not having a place to park it.

Ted Buehler
Guest

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

With changes to the urban landscape, there will always be “winners” and “losers.”

Someone will always win big, and have the livability or sale price of their property go up significantly. A windfall. Ideally, most people will benefit somewhat from changes. And relatively few people will have big losses, like “WTF, my quality of life (or property value) just tanked.”

Good policy and planning makes for mostly winners and few losers.

In this case, BikeShare is certainly going to be a great thing for the city, and breathe new life into our somewhat stagnant mode share (creates a new gateway for nonbicycle riders to become bicycle riders). And improve the lot of downtown workers going to lunch, regular bicyclists who get a flat tire, residents hosting visitors, etc.

There will always be some losers, though. I hadn’t thought about BikeShare stations against private residential street frontage, since I’d never seen it in any city with BikeShare that I had visited. But it certainly appears to create short-term “losers” in terms of quality of life and property value. In the long run, I suspect property values will go up more than they would otherwise, and that the loss of immediate street frontage will blend into the background of pluses and minuses for living in a particular house or a particular neighborhood.

So while it’s a dramatic change, and the tenants or property owners were not personally notified, I don’t think it’s all that big of a deal in the long run. Cities change. Portland has changed for the better, a lot. Property values and livability are way up from 5 or 10 years ago. And, with the addition of BikeShare and many other positive changes in the works, livability and property values will continue to rise in the inner neighborhoods.

It will be interesting to see how these do pan out on a case by case basis, but while it is a dramatic negative change for some of these private residences, the negative aspect, in my opinion, is dramatically outweighed by the benefits that have accrued to Portlanders in the wave of steady urban improvements that BikeShare is just one element of.

Ted Buehler

Tom
Guest
Tom

“We will continue to monitor the situation, and we will revisit our decision if we find that it is warranted by the demand for bike parking.”

If there is no longer any bike parking nearby, as in several of the cases, then how would they be able to “monitor” the situation? Monitor what?

People of private bikes just wont be able to park at those locations, so how could you possibly monitor the demand.

Mark Smith
Guest
Mark Smith

Hey Bike people! thanks for showing us where the good bike parking is! Now it’s ours. thanks!

-the city of portland

Spiffy
Subscriber

from the KOIN story: “I received no direct notice that it was going to be placed exactly in front of my house,” Michael Papas said. Papas said he was left in the dark, and will lose $250 in rent.

http://koin.com/2016/07/13/biketown-racks-not-welcome-in-some-neighborhoods/

I’m guessing he means that he’ll have to use his own garage now and won’t be able to continue renting it out for $250 a month…

so it looks like a parking spot at SE Taylor/39th is worth around $250 a month… we’re giving away a fortune in free parking in this city…

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

I rode the Alpenrose velodrome yesterday and can report that so far no orange “Biketown” racks have been installed on turn 4.

But there are plenty of OBRA rental bikes available for the Wednesday evening classes: $5 for the bike and $5 for the class.

daisy
Guest
daisy

Oh I really hope I’m there to see the first time someone races cyclocross on a Biketown bike!

Trikeguy
Guest
Trikeguy

Hello, Kitty
Notifying people of changes adjacent to their property should just be part of the process. Unfortunately, the city has decided that public notice is not particularly important. There are many recent examples.
Recommended 13

Dude, the plans for the Hyperspace bypass have been at the local planning office in Alpha Centauri for a decade.

(sorry, couldn’t resist)

Erik
Guest
Erik

“In removing the corrals, our overall goal was to balance the needs of all users”

This is a self-contradicting statement. If the goal was to balance the needs of ALL users, you would have both corral staple racks AND Biketown racks.

chris
Guest
chris

I’m wondering why they don’t have the racks angled like the staples in the corrals? It looks like the space where I used to be able to pedal past cars waiting to turn left onto Hawthorne at 34th will now be taken by nikebike wheels.

Vince
Guest
Vince

Head trauma professionals rejoice! More people riding around without helmets! Excellent!

Scott Mizée
Guest

Hello, Kitty
And yet, even on terribly parking constrained cities like New York, most people have cars.
Recommended 0

Can you please cite a source for this claim? I’m surprised by it.