PBOT wants to crowdsource bike corral usage data with eye on improvements

Ex Novo Brewing

Bike corrals have become a common feature of Portland’s streets. Looks like they could use a larger one at Ex Novo on North Flint Ave.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

From St. Johns to Lents, and all points in between, the City of Portland has 145 bike parking corrals. The groupings of blue staple racks have become a standard piece of street furniture and a symbol of Portland’s commitment to cycling.

But how often are they used? Are some overcrowded? Should they be larger? Smaller? And how does Biketown figure into the equation?

These are just some of the questions the Bureau of Transportation hopes to answer with a new, crowdsourced bike corral reporting project. Using a short online form, PBOT wants to know three basic pieces of information: How many bikes are parked at the corral, if they include Biketown bikes, and the date/time of the observation.

With this data, PBOT’s Scott Cohen says, the City will be able to manage the corrals more effectively. “It’s always good to have data so we can plan better.” A recent exchange Cohen had with a property owner exemplifies the need to understand usage. “He was doing his own count and telling us no one was using the bike corral,” Cohen said. “Then we spoke to the businesses and they said everyone uses them and they definitely need it. There was a disconnect.”

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145 bike corral locations.
(Map: PBOT)

Portland’s corrals have been a big success since they debuted in September 2008. For many years PBOT managed a backlog of eager businesses hoping to make their storefronts more convenient and appealing to bicycle users. Cohen says PBOT has finally caught up with demand, which frees them up to be more proactive about how existing racks are managed.

Another thing on PBOT’s mind is how/if the robust network of bike corrals could serve as designated parking spaces for Biketown bikes. The City already uses many of their corral spaces as free parking around busy bike share stations — and we’ve heard they’re considering doing even more of this in the future as a way to expand the Biketown service area (more on that later).

Help PBOT get good data by submitting reports via the bike corral reporting form.

Want a bike rack on the sidewalk or in a parking space near your business? You can apply online for a rack on the sidewalk or on the street.

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

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Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Kate
Kate
7 years ago

Great idea!! Love leveraging technology and our community to gather this data. I may use that comment box to suggest a spot or two as well to add one where none exist.

rick
rick
7 years ago

Please install one in Multnomah Village at SW 35th at Capitol and in Ashcreek at SW 74th Ave by SW Garden Home Road.

TonyT
7 years ago

FYI, you’ve got the wrong link under “since they debuted in September 2008”

Adam
7 years ago

How about we get drivers to stop crashing into them? 😉 The corral in front of North Bar has been replaced multiple times and always seems to be re-damaged within a few weeks of re-installation.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Not installing them in the first place means they won’t get run over 🙂

John Liu
John Liu
7 years ago

Suggestion: track when a Biketown bike is parked near, but not in, a bike corral (and not at a Biketown station). That indicates the corral is likely full.

CaptainKarma
CaptainKarma
7 years ago

Incorporate a rack occupancy count into or alongside the annual PBOT bike route counts.

KVC
KVC
7 years ago

I just wish there was a way to get these installed in high need locations when a business isn’t initiating the process and paying the fee. There are a couple of spots I know where every signpost, railing, tree, slow walker, etc. gets multiple bikes locked to them and there’s an obvious need for a corral. It would clearly serve the public interest to install one and it’s not as if the right of way belongs to the adjacent businesses. I understand that PBOT is trying to capture some of their costs, but the dollar amount is fairly negligible and it seems like a basic service.

Scott Cohen
Scott Cohen
7 years ago
Reply to  KVC

Hi KVC – Feel free to email our bike parking account and PBOT staff will follow up with the adjacent business. If there are a lot of bikes parked to street furniture and trees, adjacent businesses are usually very open to additional sidewalk racks or corrals. Thanks.

Resopmok
Resopmok
7 years ago

Who cares about usage? I believe induced demand isn’t just a phenomenon that applies to roads and automobile parking, but to bike infrastructure and bike parking as well. Build more of both and watch as it begins to fill up. If the question is: should we provide more bike parking here? The answer is: yes.

John Liu
John Liu
7 years ago

Can I ask, how much does a bike corral cost in materials?. 10 racks at $85 each, ten rubber curbs, maybe $1300? Just guessing.

Scott Cohen
Scott Cohen
7 years ago
phillip porter
phillip porter
7 years ago

My big question is, why is there so little covered bike parking in Portland? For a city known for rain (for good reason) and cycling (unfortunately not for any good reason, aside from an inaccurate stereotype) you’d think this would be an automatic consideration.

Benjamin Vulpes
7 years ago

And nary a mention of the cannibalization of previously public bike corrals for Biketown? Can’t tell if ignorant or pandering to the corporate crowd.