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Showdown looms for major bike parking policy update

Posted by on January 9th, 2019 at 12:57 pm

Hot off the presses.

Portland has adopted goals to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent (Climate Action Plan), make 70 percent of trips by something other than driving alone (Comprehensive Plan), and reach a 25 percent cycling usage rate (Transportation System Plan) by 2035.

To reach these goals we must have ample, accessible, and secure bicycle parking available citywide. And it was with these goals in mind that the City of Portland embarked on their Bicycle Parking Code Update project in 2016. Our existing code hasn’t had a wholesale update since 1996 when about 200,000 fewer people lived here and our official bicycle commute mode split was a measly 1.2 percent (it’s at around 7 percent today).

But the city’s proposals have run up against concerns from real estate developers and our local chamber of commerce. Companies and organizations that construct housing and office buildings worry they’ll lose money if they devote too much space to bicycle parking. Precious square footage in Portland’s hot real estate market can be put to more valuable use, they argue, as retail space or more housing units. The Portland Business Alliance echoes those concerns and says current bicycling rates are so low they don’t even merit the need for more bike parking.

“As for the cost of doing this…I’m equally interested in the cost of not doing this.”
— Chris Smith, Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner

At the heart of the code update is an increase in the number of long (employee) and short-term (visitor) spaces new buildings will be required to have. The new policy brings the minimum amount of spaces for a residential building to 1.5 per unit (up from 1) and 1 space per 1,800 square feet for office buildings in the central city (there are two geographic tiers based on different cycling mode split expectations).

Several proposals didn’t make it into the final draft of changes. A requirement for electrical outlets to charge e-bikes was passed over after staff realized it fit better in the building code instead of the zoning code and there’s also a chance it could be included in an upcoming city effort to improve EV charging. You can see a one-page summary of the proposed changes here (PDF).

The most contentious aspects of the city’s proposal have to do with “in-unit” requirements and affordable housing.

The current code allows developers to put all the required bike parking inside the dwelling unit. During their outreach process, PBOT learned that some builders would simply stick a cheap hook next to bed or in a crowded corner to meet the requirement. And some residents complained about losing their damage deposits after bringing wet, greasy bikes into rooms.


Blue is what current code requires, red is new proposal.

With support from the 2030 Bike Plan, which recommended prohibiting in-unit residential bike parking altogether, PBOT initially proposed that none of the required, long-term parking could be provided within a unit. But according to the proposed draft, PBOT staff “heard loud and clear from the development community” that this policy was untenable. If developers are forced to use square footage outside units for bike parking they say they’ll lose money that could otherwise be earned from having more retail or residential space.

PBOT and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability conducted a “Bicycle Parking Spatial and Economic Study” (in a memo you can find on page 64 of this PDF) that found the proposed bike parking requirement scenarios could result in a decrease in net operating income of between 1 and 4 percent.

So they’ve come to a compromise. The current proposal states that 20 percent of the long-term parking can be providing inside dwelling units (if certain standards for quality and access are met). “This proposal moves toward the Bicycle Plan policy goal,” states the draft proposal, “while still responding to the concerns from the development community.”

Then affordable housing advocates and companies got wind of the proposal. They worried that the mandate for 80 percent of long-term parking to be outside the unit would result in fewer housing units being built and — because of the more stringent regulations they work under — could even jeopardize entire projects.

“While there’s a recognition of the need to provide affordable transportation options for residents, there were concerns on how to balance these objectives with the overwhelming need for affordable housing.”
— Liz Hormann, PBOT

PBOT project manager Liz Hormann presented the proposal at the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission meeting yesterday. “While there’s a recognition of the need to provide affordable transportation options for residents,” she said, “there were concerns on how to balance these objectives with the overwhelming need for affordable housing.”

PBOT has reacted to that need by carving out an exemption. The latest proposal says up to 50 percent of the spaces in an affordable housing development can be in-unit. And for sites with 10 units or less, all of the required long-term spaces can be inside the unit.

This backpedal has raised eyebrows of several PSC members. Commissioner Chris Smith sees a clear line between quality bike parking and our mode share goals. “It’s not sufficient to just build bikeways, we also have to have end-of-trip facilities,” he said during yesterday’s meeting. He called the current in-unit bike parking policy a “strange artifact of our code” that we should have axed in the 1990s. Smith thinks in-unit bike parking doesn’t encourage cycling and he wants city policy to strongly discourage developers from providing it. “What we’re doing is reducing our requirements by 20 percent and saying you only have to build 80 percent of what’s needed to reach our goals,” he said.

In response to PBOT economic analysis, Smith said, “As for the cost of doing this…I’m equally interested in the cost of not doing this.”

Comment on the Proposed Draft

  • Click the “Testify” button on the Map App
  • Send snail mail to Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, Bicycle Parking Testimony, 1900 SW 4th Ave., Ste. 7100 Portland, OR 97201
  • Attend public hearing 1/22/19, 5:00 pm at 1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 2500 (2nd Floor)

Official project website.

Smith also thinks an exemption for affordable housing is the wrong way to go. “I think what we’re doing there is just providing substandard bicycle parking for the households that need access to affordable transportation most. That’s the single thing in this proposal that troubles me the most.”

And he has support among the PSC. Three other commissioners echoed his concerns. PSC Chair Katherine Schultz said the affordable housing exemption is, “Curious and unfortunate.” “I get we’re trying to balance all these competing goals, but it absolutely seems of all places that’s where we need to accommodate bikes.”

Portland Business Alliance President and CEO Andrew Hoan disagrees. In a letter sent to PBOT and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly in October, he cited Portland’s recent cycling plateau. “While we agree more can be done to encourage this mode of transportation… imposing rigid requirements around rack design, placement and security are not an effective answer to the problem,” he wrote. Here’s more from Hoan’s letter:

“… ground floor bicycle parking requirements can cool nearby retail activity as they are now competing uses for limited ground floor space. Our other concern with this proposed update is with the level of detail in the code change, the square footage that it would needlessly consume in buildings, and specific requirements developers are being asked to adhere to. The current proposal would require portions of buildings be used for unused bicycle parking stalls that would be better utilized for needed housing and/or retail and associated employment. While we recognize that transportation costs are, on average, the second highest cost for households in our area, this proposal also has the potential to negatively impact affordable housing, assisted living and retail developments. Low-income communities are the most reliant on their personal vehicles; monthly mass transit passes are not affordable for many Portlanders. Housing and mixed use developers must have as much rentable or saleable space as possible in order to make their projects pencil out financially – if not, housing costs will increase and housing supply will not meet demand. At a time when our city is experiencing a housing emergency, this proposal seems to run counter to efforts to make living here more affordable.”

Schultz and the rest of the PSC is likely to hear more from developers and business interests when the Bike Parking Code Update is back in front of them for a public hearing on January 22nd.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

  • Chris Smith January 9, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    You can testify on this project at the Jan 22nd PSC meeting (5pm) or online via the map app:

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  • rick January 9, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    What about the people who don’t use cars?

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  • David January 9, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Leave it to the PBA to lower the bar, they never fail to disappoint.

    I believe Hoan meant to say is that “Low-income communities are the most reliant on their personal vehicles” because we have for too long provided no other viable option. They are reliant on personal automobiles because we have not adequately provided fair pricing for transit users along with a network they can reliably utilize because of poor funding and prioritizing private auto throughput and storage at the expense of other modes. Bicycling has a place in our transportation network and we want to work with the city to make sure we are dedicating the precious space we can inside of buildings to make affordable housing truly affordable, without the hidden cost of transportation that we have externalized to this vulnerable population for decades.

    As an aside, the primary reason there are so many stipulations in the proposed code is that our developer and business community have egregiously failed to understand how to provide proper and adequate bicycle parking. This code is the result of decades of not getting things right. We can point to pictures on twitter of staple racks installed inches from building walls, parallel with them, or rim bender/decorative racks that fail to provide two points of contact with the frame, or racks that are otherwise good but spaced too close together to make the space useful among many other issues. In short, if PBA members (and other companies/property owners) had demonstrated the slightest competence on the subject as a group they probably could have avoided much of the prescriptive nature of this policy. You don’t resort to regulating when people or businesses are doing things well, it’s only when they aren’t.

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  • Champs January 9, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    My unit is not a safe, but a room where hundreds have access to my bike might as well be a staple on the sidewalk. Is the 2030 Bike Plan written by people who bike or the Bike Thieves Guild?

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    • Chris Smith January 9, 2019 at 4:09 pm

      The requirements can be satisfied with multiple bike rooms spread through a building.

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    • Bill January 10, 2019 at 10:07 am

      I’ve been using a bike parking room that’s shared between multiple residential and commercial buildings for about two years and (knock on wood) there haven’t been any theft issues. It’s controlled access and there are cameras, so this kind of secure centralized parking is entirely doable.

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    • Chris I January 10, 2019 at 10:32 am

      That’s a bit hyperbolic. Keycard access rooms can have security systems, and are much safer than “a staple on the street”. You still would want to use a U-lock + cable, but your odds of theft are significantly lower.

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      • maxD January 10, 2019 at 10:50 am

        when I lived in Vancouver BC I lost a bike this way: locked bike room in a secure parking garage, multiple bikes all locked to staples. Cleaned out around 40 bikes. I agree it is rare, but worth the effort for a pro thief. Multiple rooms in less isolated locations would be better IMO

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  • SCOTT MIZEE January 9, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Sad but not surprising to see this response. Chris Smith hit the nail on the head regarding the connection between affordable housing and safe, affordable transportation (bike) parking spaces. Mr. Hoan seems to totally miss the connection.

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  • SD January 9, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    “The PBA cares about low income people.”

    Thanks, I will think about this when I need a good laugh.

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  • bikeninja January 9, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    After the recent behavior of some of the PBA leadership in the news,
    I am dumbfounded that anyone listens to these dinosaurs anymore. It is no surprise that they oppose bike parking standards , they would probably support child labor and indentured servants if they thought they could get away with it.

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  • Anon January 9, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    I am in an out of newly constructed apartments all day for my job, and the “in-unit bike parking” is a total joke. They throw a hook on a wall, then stage the unit with a desk or sofa right under it. Rarely are there kick-plates for the bottom wheel, so your wall is going to get filthy if you actually used it. I can’t attach a pic, but the link has a great example of what I’m talking about:

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  • dan January 9, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    “The Portland Business Alliance echoes those concerns and says current bicycling rates are so low they don’t even merit the need for more bike parking.”

    What a laugh, I wonder how many people would drive cars if there were as few car parking spots as there are bike parking spots.

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    • Ryan January 9, 2019 at 3:20 pm

      Exactly! Rates are relatively poor because of the flaws in the current design, yet he uses these rates as proof that we should keep the current design?!?

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      • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 8:31 am

        The logic of s small child: Covers eyes while saying ‘you can’t see me!’

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    • dwk January 9, 2019 at 4:41 pm

      I rode from Beaverton to NE Portland through downtown this afternoon.
      I saw 3 other people riding bicycles.
      They might have a point.

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      • Dave January 10, 2019 at 8:10 am

        Only 3? ***deleted sentence because it was rude*** I don’t ride in Portland often, but one afternoon recently my wife and I rode from the Rose Quarter Max stop to Holgate and SE 28th–I didn’t count but I’m sure we saw between 50 and 100 other riders. This was a non-holiday weekday.

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      • Matt Meskill January 10, 2019 at 11:36 am

        I cycled down a street the other day and saw no motorists. Hmmm.

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        • dwk January 10, 2019 at 1:08 pm

          Did I hit a nerve or something….. Cycling numbers are down in Portland. I know that now dealing in facts is the preference of a lot of people these days….
          I ride across the Hawthorn everyday, the winter numbers for cyclists are embarrassing low.
          Sorry to break the news.

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          • mh January 10, 2019 at 8:42 pm

            Sorry to be snide (not very), but what city are you talking about? I don’t recognize “Hawthorn” as a street or bridge in Portland, Oregon.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty January 9, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Each unit should have a bike locker that is not inside the unit; perhaps in the hallway outside the unit so you don’t need to muck things up to store your bike upstairs (if that’s your sort of thing). The lockers could be set into the wall, perhaps accessible from inside the unit, but could also have a half-closet above them.

    Storing bikes in the unit is a design failure.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 9, 2019 at 6:36 pm

      I’m going to add that storing bikes in units is also a policy failure.

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  • bikeninja January 9, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Do these near-sighted folk in the developer community really think we will still be driving cars around 10 years from now?

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 9, 2019 at 4:12 pm

      Do you really think we won’t?

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      • clay dennis January 9, 2019 at 4:53 pm

        The ability for the average person to command the resources necessary to travel long distances (compared to walking) inside of several tons of metal and plastic is an exorbitant privilege that was made possible only by a rare confluence of cheap and abundant fossil fuels, the economical availability of resources and a multi generation debt bubble. All these factors are ending now as predicted almost exactly in the 1970’s by the limits to growth study out of MIT. From here on we will see happy motoring decline quickly. I will confidently predict that by 2021 the number of people able to take part ( and the miles traveled) will drop by 20% and by 2015 a full 50%. This will have nothing to do with peoples desires or needs but will be dictated by the hard facts of reality and economics.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 9, 2019 at 6:25 pm

          20% in two years. What will be true about 2019 and 2020 that was not true in 2017 and 2018, that will cause such a radical and rapid shift in behavior? When do you expect we’ll start seeing these changes manifest themselves?

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          • Bikeninja January 9, 2019 at 10:19 pm

            The changes are coming towards use like a tidal wave, you just have to look past your backyard to see what is on the way. Greece, Syria, Mexico, Brazil and The yellow vests in France are all harbingers of the geopolitical/economic horsemen of change. Between now and summer we will see the financial collapse of the shale patch and other turmoil that will usher in the changes of which I speak. Already we have seen an unprecidented collapse in new car sales in the 4th quarter in both the U.S. and China. These changes until the economics of personal auto use will no longer make sense for the average American.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 9:51 am

              The yellow vesters got their start, as you may recall, protesting an increase in fuel taxes. They are not harbingers of the apocalypse, but rather a reaction to a sensible government policy intended to delay things a bit. They are a lesson in moving too quickly, not too slowly. A lesson I hope isn’t learned elsewhere. Greece has other things going on — rampant tax evasion, for example, and corruption that, while hardly unique to Greece, has put the country in a rather tenuous position for years, quite independent of planetary collapse.

              But, just in case, I’ve put Jan 2021 as the time to sell my car; later that year, it’s value will drop considerably, so I’ll want to get out while I can. I’ll buy it back for less later in the year, or perhaps just take one that’s been abandoned on the street.

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              • bikeninja January 10, 2019 at 10:54 am

                They are protesting the increase in fuel prices because the decline in economic conditions for the middle class brought on by resource constraints and debt burden has pushed them near the edge of not being able to drive anymore. Bolsonaro is a also a reaction ( a wrong headed turn to a right wing strong man) to declining economic conditions in Brazil . And Greece is becoming a third world country because it was cut off from credit creation by the ECB as an examples to other euro countries to toe the line. These are not harbingers of an apocalypse but a signpost that middle class folks who used belong to the club of happy motoring are being shown the door, coming to a neighborhood near you.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 11:13 am

                Many would say our current president is a reaction to those same economic forces. Nonetheless, I’m having a hard time seeing how we get from where we are today to people not driving in a decade (or two or ever really, if you count automated transport as “driving”). Yellow vesters just show us how hard it will be to make any kind of substantial incremental change.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 6:32 pm

                “I’m having a hard time seeing how we get from where we are today to people not driving in a decade ”

                Because you are looking to what ‘people will accept.’
                But if things go off the rails, this will not be the relevant framing. If you had polled the people of Joplin, MO on May 21, 2011 about whether they would accept their town being leveled, they would have said, Of course not. But the next day it was leveled, preferences notwithstanding. Once you accept that some things are out of our control—even though we in the US aren’t used to that, have expended billions over centuries to ensure we would always call the shots—what people will stand for isn’t relevant anymore, because what they want, can make happen, and what could/will happen are independent of each other.

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            • soren January 10, 2019 at 9:53 am

              The yellow vest movement and Brazil’s Bolsonaro support cheap and plentiful fossil fuel.

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          • Mike Quigley January 10, 2019 at 6:34 am

            Economic depression? And in Portland, the Big One?

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          • soren January 10, 2019 at 9:58 am

            We might have another debt-deflation recession!

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        • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 8:35 am

          Thank you clay dennis!

          Constraints not preferences!

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 8:55 am

            Every time you say this, I feel great relief. If you are right, I don’t have to worry. “Constraints” will deal with the problem for me, so I don’t need to worry about convincing people to change their behavior. It’s a soothing message. Everything will work out. Thanks

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            • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 10:46 am

              “Every time you say this, I feel great relief. If you are right, I don’t have to worry. ‘Constraints’ will deal with the problem for me, so I don’t need to worry about convincing people to change their behavior. It’s a soothing message. Everything will work out. Thanks”

              We have two options.
              (A) Plan for a smooth(ear) transition we know is coming, or
              (B) Wait for constraints to overwhelm us a which point we will all scramble and it will be a mess, although a human powered mess.

              If your takeaway from my insistence that we pay attention to constraints is a preference for (B) then I guess I underestimated you (and your three up voting pals’) prudence.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 10:56 am

                If we go with (A), then it’s back to preferences, not constraints. Which is where we started.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 11:01 am

                Except that your logic here (consistently) omits the possibility that we can see beyond the end of our nose, that we could draw inferences that take us to places other than short term self interest, preferences. The whole premise of planning, policy, government is that, collectively, we can (should be able to) overcome some of these unhelpful, private, short term, ways of looking at the world.

                Not to mention what are called secondary preferences: our ability to evaluate our preferences, recognize that, as Homo sapiens, we can prefer to prefer, e. g., expensive gas over cheap gas.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 11:48 am

                Do you have any evidence that people are willing and able to consistently make decisions that inconvenience them in the short term, but have a small and diffuse long-term benefit?

                I’m having trouble thinking of even one example.

                Maybe I just don’t understand your “constraints not preferences” mantra.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 12:14 pm

                “Do you have any evidence that people are willing and able to consistently make decisions that inconvenience them in the short term, but have a small and diffuse long-term benefit?”

                Having children,
                Quitting smoking,
                Opening a savings account,
                Taking a test,
                Learning a new skill,
                Sitting for a job interview,
                Starting a business,
                Learning to drive,
                Setting your alarm clock,
                Polishing your shoes……

                It seems to me that life… is chock full of these kinds of tradeoffs; I have a hard time thinking of life any other way. We can get into the citizen vs consumer dichotomy if you like.

                “I’m having trouble thinking of even one example.”


                “Maybe I just don’t understand your ‘constraints not preferences’ mantra.”

                Maybe not. The gist is that within our economic framing we tend to think of people narrowly as economic actors, out only for their self interest, and in that context what they prefer (or what we imagine them to prefer) is all-important: the convenience of an auto, the pleasure of shopping, etc. While this is hopelessly simplified, it reigns supreme in our politics and public discourse.
                Set against that are forces we are aware of but prefer not to think about: earthquakes, climate change, getting old, bullies, inequality, crime, etc. those all manifest as constraints. We can pretend that they don’t impact our economic and habitual selves, but sooner or later they will catch up with us, overwhelm whatever we may have preferred, both individually, but more importantly collectively.

                And here’s the kicker: since we know this, we, smart folks that we are, could incorporate this insight into how we plan, what we incentivize, anticipate, etc. but we generally don’t. And your posts here are a prime example (in my reading) of willful denial of this dynamic, denial of the benefits of incorporating these insights into policy, of conceding that limits will manifest and we would be wise to stop pretending they won’t.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 12:46 pm

                “Do you have any evidence that people are willing and able to consistently make decisions that inconvenience them in the short term, but have a small and diffuse long-term benefit?”

                One more big one: insurance.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 12:56 pm

                Those are all great examples of things that have a specific, if distant, benefit to the individual. What I’m looking for is benefits that are diffuse, and accrue to society as a whole. Driving to work is not going to cost the world much, so making a specific sacrifice here and now, when I might be running late and feeling stressed, has to be counted against a tiny, distant benefit to the world in general (but not necessarily to me in particular). I’m probably not going to do it.

                Behavior change in this context is not about delayed gratification, it is about giving up specific, concrete, immediate things in exchange for some infinitesimal incremental diffuse distant gain that I may never see myself.

                I’m absolutely about incentivizing pro-social behavior. Carbon tax is one of my well used mantras.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 1:13 pm

                “What I’m looking for is benefits that are diffuse, and accrue to society as a whole.”

                Fighting for social justice, the eight hour workday, women’s right to vote.
                Tree sitting to protect ancient forests.
                Demonstrating against inequality & racism.
                Chairing neighborhood association boards.
                Blocking the construction of a highway.
                Farmers the world over protesting the transnational capitalist project which undermines their livelihood.

                Some of this has atrophied here in the US, or is bumped off the front page because our media prefers to distract with salacious nonsense, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there just beneath the surface.
                Or look at the Palestinian struggle & Great March Of Return. Thousands killed by Israeli soldiers since March 30th of last year, but they continue. Very low evident payoff yet they still do it.

                Closer to home, what about all those who may have a car yet not commute with it. Or could afford a car but choose not to own or use one.

                “Behavior change in this context is not about delayed gratification, it is about giving up specific, concrete, immediate things in exchange for some infinitesimal incremental diffuse distant gain that I may never see myself.”

                Nursing your dying parents; feeding homeless people; writing unpopular comments on bikeportland.
                I understand the distinction you are making.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 1:22 pm

                “Those are all great examples of things that have a specific, if distant, benefit to the individual.”

                I’m not so sure. Insurance is an actuarial game. Many people never file a claim, and in other cases when they do the insurance company reads back to them some fine print, and refuses to pay up.
                Contrasted with avoiding climate change which, if successful, would deliver far more tangible benefits (avoided harm) to everyone.

                I think the idea of insurance and the idea of taking steps to avoid contributing to climate change are actually quite parallel. One is currently monetized, institutionalized, in many cases required, the other not.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 1:26 pm

                Tree-sitters, neighborhood chairs, and anti-racism protesters all think their sacrifice can make a specific, concrete impact. If *I* throw myself in front of the bulldozer now, I might be inconvenienced for a week (in jail, say), but the highway might stay unbuilt forever. This is very different from I’ll make permanent structural changes in my life that may be quite inconvenient, in exchange for a gain so tiny it will only work if everyone I know, and everyone they know, and a lot of other people also agree to make that sacrifice.

                I’m not saying no one will do it (indeed some have already done so), I’m saying not enough people will do it. I’d be overjoyed to be mistaken, and I’m willing to do my part.

                How many people who see the threat of global warming line dry their clothes, for example?

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 1:56 pm

                “How many people who see the threat of global warming line dry their clothes, for example?”

                I don’t think anyone has asked, so it could be hard to know. My guess would be quite a few.

                The convenient thing about line drying your clothes is that there were other, parallel, reasons to do this going back half a century or more.

                Then there is social class, specifically middle class behaviors and priorities, which muddy these particular waters a great deal.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 2:05 pm

                “Tree-sitters, neighborhood chairs, and anti-racism protesters all think their sacrifice can make a specific, concrete impact.”

                I disagree again. Where do you see these future specific, concrete impacts? Many of my examples are no more guided by specific payoffs than changing behavior now to avoid climate change in a few years. As a past neighborhood chair I’ve long since given up any hope or expectation of specific, concrete impacts. Same with tree sitting or anti-racism efforts. The hope for eventual social change is always there, but hardly anything we might recognize as individual payoffs.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 2:25 pm

                “I’ll make permanent structural changes in my life that may be quite inconvenient, in exchange for a gain so tiny it will only work if everyone I know, and everyone they know, and a lot of other people also agree to make that sacrifice.”

                If one were to take your approach, nothing would ever change; the odds would always appear—and thus be—insurmountable. Social change is made my people who don’t hold such a narrow, pessimistic view of human nature. All change starts small, and many are not cut out to be leaders but make excellent followers.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 3:12 pm

                “nothing would ever change”

                You may have noticed that people aren’t changing. Maybe next year.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 4:21 pm

                “You may have noticed that people aren’t changing. Maybe next year”

                We must have different friends, consult different media. People are constantly changing. This year, for instance, I observed more tension, more anger, more scapegoating than previously. Also people use new words, or old words in new ways. More women ran for public office and more were elected to those offices this year than ever before. Change isn’t always in salutary directions, but it is everywhere.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 5:00 pm

                I thought we were talking about positive behavioral change, specifically in the context of climate change.

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              • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 6:23 pm

                At one point we were. But your blanket statement that folks aren’t changing, can’t be expected to change motivated me to point out some of the way change is everywhere. People can and do change.
                You are perhaps inferring from this that change only happens in certain registers, only in certain directions. I don’t think we know enough to assert this.

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        • soren January 10, 2019 at 9:50 am

          As demand drops and capacity lingers on, prices will remain low. I expect gas to be plentiful and cheap in both 2021 and 2050. And I see essentially no progress in taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening.

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  • Alan 1.0 January 9, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Off-topic – sry – only related by urbanism/cars, but of interest to me and maybe others here:

    Donald Appleyard, Livable Streets, social relationships on streets relative to automobile traffic

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    • Todd Boulanger January 9, 2019 at 6:59 pm

      Nice to see someone bring up Appleyard, its been too long.

      And I would add (for those looking for other good reads when they are not biking in the winter wet): Richard Register (EcoCity Berkeley), Christopher Alexander (Pattern Language), and JH Crawford (Carfree Cities).

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  • David LaPorte January 9, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Why would the city force developers to dedicate ground floor urban real estate to bike parking, instead of the city just putting staple racks on the sidewalk everywhere that the density of businesses and residences makes sense to do so? It sounds like the same mentality that gave rise to municipal auto parking minimums. I work in Tigard and spend an unfortunate amount of time biking in the suburbs, and it’s a pleasant surprise if any of my destinations have any sort of bike parking within 1/4 mile. The fact that public racks exist in the city limits of Portland is awesome in comparison! Also, my partner and I have no trouble fitting our 4 bikes (including a tandem) in our 400 square foot apartment in Kerns.

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    • Matt S. January 9, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      Hmm, I had a tandem and a road bike in a 606 sq foot apartment and it was miserable getting the bikes in and out. Dinging the walls with the pedals, scratching furniture, scraping top tubes in the door jam. No thanks, we tried multiple configurations. I didn’t think it was nice to have a bike hang over my head while sitting on the futon.

      I bet you like camping in the rain, huh? 🙂

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      • David William LaPorte January 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm

        You called it! I do enjoy camping in the rain. But my argument is still that the city shouldn’t force developers to build bike parking.

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    • Dan A January 10, 2019 at 7:05 am

      Staple racks are great if you don’t mind removing every component and accessory that matters to you every time you park.

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      • David William LaPorte January 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm

        That is really annoying, but I still don’t think it warrants the city forcing developers to dedicate square footage to bike parking.

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  • Tom January 9, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Why are wall hooks and ground floor space the only options being considered? What about allowing a developer to supplement in-building bike parking by use a few street parking spaces adjacent to the building for bike e-lockers. Residence could use the ones adjacent to their building for free, while other bike users would pay for the secure parking, thus funding the lockers without affecting the cost of the housing or using retail space. Or using an adjacent street parking space for a dockless e-bikeshare charging station for some e-bikes. They would charge overnight and be ready for the morning commute. Then residents would have a couple options.

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    • Chris Smith January 9, 2019 at 9:41 pm

      We require developers to provide two kinds of parking: long-term and short-term. Long-term must be provided inside in secured areas. Short-term is allowed to be moved to the right-of-way by paying into a fund (PBOT would then put in corrals as needed). In general private developers don’t get to use the public right-of-way without paying for it. Otherwise we’re giving away a public good!

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      • maccoinnich January 10, 2019 at 9:47 am

        Almost every street in Portland has parking for cars on it, and it’s mostly given away for free.

        If I’m looking for short term bicycle parking outside a business or a friend’s apartment, I’m likely to look for it on the street. Unfortunately the current and proposed code prohibits a developer from meeting their short term bicycle parking in the right-of-way, even though the city will usually make them pay to rebuild the entire sidewalk.

        Yes, a developer can pay into the bike fund, but there’s explicitly no guarantee that will be used to provide bike parking outside their development. Our codes are actively working against our goals of ensuring there’s easy to access bike parking where we want it.

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  • Clark in Vancouver January 9, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past few years as I’ve attempted to get higher quality bike parking where I live and have been encountering dismissive classism (from people who seem otherwise progressive).
    If I had a car there would be instantly a huge desire by them to satisfy my needs to store it. Simply get on the waiting list and wait until a spot comes up. To them a bike room that stores transportation devices for two dozen people is asking for too much because one person with a car is more important. I asked about getting on the waiting list and then when my name came up I would cage it in and make a bike room. Well, that unleashed a lot of weird bizarre logic that I still don’t quite understand. (I won’t even get into it but I’m sure all of us here have heard crazy carhead “logic” before.) I thought of buying a cheap old van, parking it there and then storing bikes in it. Would that be okay to them then?

    How I see it, I think that there should be something called “transportation storage”. Every unit gets one to use to store their transportation devices. There should be no preferential treatment if your vehicle happens to be a motor vehicle. You can store motor vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, bike trailers, etc. If you need to cage it in for security that should be allowed. As a person’s life changes what happens to be in their spot can change. If they find they don’t drive any more and get a cargo bike they should not suddenly become disenfranchised.

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    • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 8:41 am

      Exactly. This is something I’ve been suggesting here for years: outside of the readership of bikeportland far too many people still think of bikes as discretionary, for sport, as recreational toys. I have at times criticized the prevailing opinion here in these pages for glossing over the distinction between transportational and recreational cycling for exactly this reason. In my view it would behoove us to differentiate the two, highlight the transportational side so as to make inroads into these unfortunate but very persistent misconceptions about bikes.

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    • USbike January 11, 2019 at 8:37 am

      Very insightful thoughts 🙂 Hopefully there will be more policies similar to exactly what you are advocating for in more places, at last someday. Here are a couple of nice pieces about how the Dutch have been handling bicycle storage in one form or another over the past 50 years:

      Just as you say, the important point is that there is storage space suitable for bicycles. But you can use it however you’d like, bicycles or no bicycles.

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  • SD January 10, 2019 at 8:06 am

    The PBA’s repeated claim that biking has plateaued reveals their primitive thinking about urban transportation. This idea is based on the presumption that people are either car drivers, cyclists, pedestrians or transit riders. In this scenario, once the finite number of cyclists have adopted cycling, the number of cyclists can only grow if people are converted from being a driver to being a cyclist in a manner that is similar to changing religions. It ignores the fact that many if not most people will adopt the most efficient and beneficial means of transportation that is available and our current transportation system pressures people to drive cars. Of course, this criticism assumes that the PBA’s statement is sincere and they are not just trying to maximize profits for developers.

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    • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 8:44 am

      It also completely (and predictably) elides the larger dynamics which suggest that automobility is not long for this world. The PBA’s obsolete motorist thinking ‘worked’ fine in the sixties, but it is no longer relevant today when climate change and cheap fossil fuels are upending the terms that made automobility normal/reasonable.

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      • soren January 13, 2019 at 8:08 pm

        “the larger dynamics which suggest that automobility is not long for this world”

        last year greenhouse gas emissions increase 3.8% in the usa largely due to transportation. from my perspective, our culture seems even more enamored with the automobile than it was a few decades ago.

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        • 9watts January 13, 2019 at 8:13 pm

          Enamored = preferences.

          I am not inclined to disagree with that.

          But I’m not that interested in preferences. Ostrich preferences—as is well known—are also maladaptive.
          Constraints, man.

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          • soren January 14, 2019 at 2:40 pm

            i see no constraints on this global tragedy of the commons. in fact, the global move towards authoritarianism appears to have accelerated ecocide.

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            • 9watts January 14, 2019 at 2:43 pm

              Ecocide = constraint
              Authoritarianism = constraint

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 9:05 am

      Life is much simpler if you divide people into different groups, and ascribe a set of values, sins, and grievances to each.

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  • Gary B January 10, 2019 at 9:03 am

    “ground floor bicycle parking requirements can cool nearby retail activity”

    You know what’d really “heat up ” ground floor retail? 4 lane 35mph thoroughfares, on street parking on both sides, and parking garages! That’s what the urban retail environment needs. We don’t have room for a few hundred square feet–down some hallway into the back corner of a building–for silly bike parking!

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    • Andrew Kreps January 10, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      I was going to call out that same statement for a different reason. It lacks a factual source. Hasn’t it been proven over and over that increasing the number of people _not_ passing by in large motor vehicles is good for business?

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  • J_R January 10, 2019 at 9:47 am

    My family and I have great bike parking in our home. I had great bike parking at my place of work as well as showers and lockers. My kids had reasonable (acceptable) bike parking at school. Even with these parking/storage features, as a family we could not achieve 25 percent bike mode split on a regular basis. There were simply too many constraints that caused us to choose an automobile for a majority of trips. The time involved in biking to distant destinations, the timing of activities, needed capacity for purchases, etc. precluded bicycles as a choice for lots of trips.

    We are not going to achieve 25 percent mode split. It’s sometimes been described as an aspirational goal. While I don’t doubt that some changes to the bicycle parking requirements are necessary. I don’t think we should be justifying bike parking requirements to an unattainable bicycling goal.

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    • 9watts January 10, 2019 at 10:42 am

      If we are only taking preferences into account I would agree with you, but if we consider constraints—and the prudent thing would be to do so—the calculus changes, and 25% could pretty soon start to look like a floor rather than an unattainable ceiling.

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    • David January 10, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      Little known fact, this policy is not based on the 25% goal that is stated in many other policy documents. During that two month stretch in 2017 ( when the goal in the TSP was changed to 15% this document was being worked on and they incorporated it into the minimums. When the goal was revised back to 25% it was not reflected in this policy, so for all of the developers and business owners making a big deal of this they should note it’s already a compromise.

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      • Chris Smith January 10, 2019 at 12:33 pm

        That’s true for commute destinations, but residential and other destinations are driven by the 25% “all trips” goal.

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    • SD January 10, 2019 at 3:01 pm

      If people felt safe and protected from cars for their entire trip, 25% would be easy.

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  • Tom January 10, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Cars use street parking for long term storage. Bikes should be allowed to also. All that is needed is to install secure public electronic access lockers in some street parking spaces.

    Staple racks are very un-secure, even for short term parking. Many people will not leave their bikes at staple racks, even with a ulock, even short term, justafiably.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 10, 2019 at 10:48 am

      I don’t disagree with this conceptually, but lockers are expensive, and if you think about the mechanics of getting into a locker, may not be much more space efficient than car storage if you don’t want to require people to stand in a traffic lane while retrieving their bike.

      And my understanding is that cars are supposed to be moved every 24 hours (I know it’s never enforced), so they’re not, technically, supposed to be stored long-term on the street.

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      • Tom January 10, 2019 at 12:14 pm

        Bike lockers cost money, but can be funded by charging for secure storage. Car security, like door locks and ignition key, etc, also cost money. Security is never free regardless of what you are storing. I don’t see why you would expect it to be free.

        Bike lockers can be accessed from the sidewalk and are about 6 times more space efficient than can parking. You would not put the locker door on the traffic lane side. The safety aspect of retrieval exists only for cars, which are normally accessed from the drivers (street traffic) side by the driver. If anything, street parking safety concerns of access should be applied to cars, not bikes.

        The same 24 hour rule can be applied to bikes, and equally not enforced. If if we started applying this rule to both cars and bikes (extremely unlikely), I still don’t see the issue. You should be riding your bike every 24 hours anyway, or just move it to a different locker.

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  • Edward January 10, 2019 at 10:23 am

    My bike just got stolen from my #####y apartment that has zero bike parking. My bike was outside, on the second floor balcony. Yes, it was unlocked. But there was honestly nothing to lock it to on the balcony. Meanwhile, there’s a covered parking garage for automobiles that’s never more than a third full. There’s tons of space. These ###-hats could simply put staples in a couple of the empty spaces. Landlords just don’t want to have to spend a dime more than they have to.

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  • mark smith January 12, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    It’s so great to see that the PBA is (finally) interested in affordability. Not that they are of course simply worried about their buddy’s yacht payment…

    The city needs to step in where there is a failure in the market place which this is one. Without bike storage, mode share will not go up. The burbs are not going to drive modeshare. The apartment/condos are. Get with it Portland. Stand up to the (already dead) PBA.

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