Sorry bike thieves, PBOT’s new — more secure — staple racks are finally hitting the streets

New PBOT bike rack-4.jpg

The first of a new generation — and hopefully a new era of bike theft prevention.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland just raised their game when it comes to providing people with a secure place to park a bicycle.

As we reported just over one year ago, the Bureau of Transportation updated their standard design for city-issued staple racks. Now that the existing stock of old ones has been used up, this week marked the first time one of the new racks went in. We heard the first one to be bolted onto the sidewalk was in north Portland (corner of N Bryant and Interstate) so we rolled over to check it out this morning.

To the untrained eye (and to people without x-ray vision), it doesn’t look like much. But under the hood of this unassuming curved piece of blue steel are some serious bike theft prevention measures.

The differences between the new racks and the old ones include: a flat, steel crossbar; a braided wire cable that floats inside the main pipe; and a requirement to have deeper concrete foundations for the bolts and feet of the rack. (View the official design drawings here.) The crossbar will make it harder for thieves to slip a lock off the rack (something that can be done if the legs are unscrewed or the main pipe is cut) and the internal cable will make it much harder to saw through the main pipe.

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“It will take much more effort, forethought, strength, and tool power to defeat this new design,” PBOT Communications Director John Brady told us last year.

According to PBOT’s bike parking manager Scott Cohen, Portland currently has about 7,000 blue staple racks installed on sidewalks and in bike corrals throughout the city. They add and replace them to the tune of about 300 to 400 per year; so it will take several years before the entire stock is updated to this new version.

And it should go without saying, that you shouldn’t rely on anything — or anyone — to make your bike secure. You must have good locking practices, use a high-quality lock, and most importantly, make sure your bike is registered. Learn about all this stuff and more at PBOT’s EndBikeTheft.org website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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One
5 years ago

I’m interested in buying (ASAP) two staple racks for my home. Any idea what the city is doing with the old ones? Could I buy two used ones? I would prefer to buy used over spending $99 each on Amazon.

9watts
9watts
5 years ago

I guess then I don’t understand this statement then.:
“They add and replace them to the tune of about 300 to 400 per year”

Spiffy
5 years ago
Reply to  9watts

they add the new style racks…

if an old style rack gets damaged beyond use it gets replaced with a new style rack…

there are no unused old style racks… all of them are installed…

9watts
9watts
5 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

3-400 wear out every year?!

Alan 1.0
5 years ago
Reply to  9watts

Vandalized. Cut for theft. Stolen for scrap. And the other 390 run over by cars.

9watts
9watts
5 years ago
Reply to  Alan 1.0

If that is true, then I would think this would be an excellent angle for a story:

The ratio of car infrastructure destroyed by biking/bikes: bike infrastructure destroyed by driving/cars. Around here (inner SE) I certainly see plenty of bike staple racks that have been backed into or run over or ripped out by horseless carriages. Gives a different gloss to the ‘don’t pay their way.’

Alan 1.0
5 years ago
Reply to  Alan 1.0

It’s alternatively true.

Justin M
Justin M
5 years ago

Wonderful. I love the new design. It was heartbreaking reading about all those thefts. It’s important though to mention that most of the people who come into the shop and say their bikes were stolen had them stolen from their property. Garage break-ins, sheds, backyards and porches. Even from “secure” bike parking. A number of companies make things to bolt into the floor or onto the wall to secure your bike at home. Be sure to register your bikes with bike index, take pictures, and file a police report if your bike is stolen.

Spiffy
5 years ago
Reply to  Justin M

I lock my bike to itself in my locked garage… at least they’ll have to carry it away if they break in…

once I get my garage organized this summer I should buy a couple staple racks to lock the nice bikes to… that’d slow them down even more…

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
5 years ago

Saw one of these in front of my office (NW park blocks) today! Good stuff.

Patrick
Patrick
5 years ago

Who is the manufacturer?

Stephen Keller
Stephen Keller
5 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

I don’t know who manufactures these, but the PBOT web page about bike rack manufacturers mentions a contact person (with phone and email address) who might be able to answer your question.

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/339600

Adam
5 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

HuntCo

todd boulanger
todd boulanger
5 years ago

This is very good news. Thank you PBoT for taking our constructive design criticism to heart. (Now we need a public test!)

todd boulanger
todd boulanger
5 years ago

Jonathan – would you clarify this point made in the article:
“They add and replace them to the tune of about 300 to 400 per year; so it will take several years before the entire stock [of 7000] is updated…”

Either it is going to take over 20 years to replace them all [not “several years” = ~3 years} OR else PBoT is replacing 3000 to 4000 racks a year. [I doubt it is the latter.]

Matheas Michaels
Matheas Michaels
5 years ago

oh man that is so great!

Charley
Charley
5 years ago

Those look BOMBER. Way to go!

Smokey Bear
Smokey Bear
5 years ago

Can’t tell what type of bolts are holding the blue rack down. It looks like a standard hex allen wrench – easy to defeat. Of course, if the cyclist uses a cable lock that will be even easier to defeat.

Vinny
Vinny
5 years ago
Reply to  Smokey Bear

“Bolt: 1/2″ diameter x 1-1/4″ long pin hex button socket security bolt, or approved equal.”

$10 will get you a cheap security bit set that fits the bolt. Still better than a standard bolt I suppose.

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
5 years ago
Reply to  Vinny

I wish they would go one step further, cementing (or something similar) over the bolt head. At that point, theft would be one heckuva ordeal: chipping away the cement, unbolting using specialty tool, and then still having the new staple lock fully attached, with that extra bonus cord inside too.

lyle w
lyle w
5 years ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

Or just covering the bolt slot with some silicone or other rubbery substance people can apply and remove with a non-toxic corrosive spray/liquid, etc.

So it’s not hard to get off, but you gotta be walking around with a bottle of WD-40, methyl ethyl or likewise. On top of the two tools to cut the pipe and cable, etc…

Yeah, there will be that person out there, but it’ll be rare, and he’ll be looking for a really expensive bike.

rf
rf
5 years ago

It’s a shame the graphic shows a bike being locked with front wheel and frame. Would of been pretty great if they did the Sheldon Brown back wheel u lock method. People will lose their back wheel if they follow the image.

Alan 1.0
5 years ago
Reply to  rf

i. http://www.cyclelicio.us/2011/sheldon-lock-video/
ii. locking skewers
iii. my ulock won’t fit around my wheel and most staples

Skid
Skid
5 years ago
Reply to  rf

There’s a youtube video of somoen using a cheap hacksaw to cut through the tire tube and rim in less than 30 seconds, thus defeating the Sheldon method. He was right about a lot of things, but locking your bike without the lock around one frame tube is not one of them.

Patrick McMahon
Patrick McMahon
5 years ago

I’m surprised that they didn’t chose to use square tubing as well to make the new rack even more theft resistant. Seems like an odd choice.