There’s perhaps no more important place for high-quality bicycle parking than a location where bike theft is rampant and that sits at the bottom of a big hill separating two major employment zones.
That’s why many bicycle users were excited about the new bike parking at TriMet’s Goose Hollow MAX station. Unfortunately the facility is now over a year behind schedule and remains mostly unused. Reached this morning for comment, TriMet says a technology issue is preventing them from opening the high-tech secure facilities at three stations: Goose Hollow/Jefferson Street, Beaverton Creek, and Gateway Transit Center.
“We’ve experienced technology integration challenges that we continue to work to solve.”
— Roberta Altstadt, TriMet
Two years ago we shared a guest post from TriMet Senior Planner Jeff Owen where he explained the designs and made the case that secure bike parking at Goose Hollow “plays a crucial role” in making transit work better. Coupled with a similar new facility on the west side at Beaverton Creek, the idea was for people to park their bikes on one end of their MAX trip and use another bike (or bus, walk, or use company shuttle) on the other end. This would alleviate overcrowding on trains that occurs when too many people roll bikes on board.
Reader Scott Barry is a regular bike commuter who relies on the MAX Blue Line to get between Portland and the west side. He recently shared with us that he’s seen the number of bikes on the train skyrocket in recent years. “Eight bikes on one side of the train at one time is not that uncommon,” he wrote in an email last week asking for an update on the project. And he’s even seen eight bikes on each end of the train. “It requires so much shuffling of positions that people can barely get off in time.”
TriMet finished construction of the new bike parking at Goose Hollow late last year. As we reported back in January, there are 16 spaces inside a secure metal cage and 14 spaces (seven staple racks) just outside of it.
Those 14 spaces are usable, but Scott says other bicycle riders he’s talked to don’t trust them. “They would never leave their bike at one of the staples outside of the cage, camera or no camera. Nobody believed the camera would make any difference, and people noted that it would be an ideal theft location because the thief would have 9 hours to plan and schedule the theft while the owner was at work.”
Given the (very reasonable) fear of theft, Scott thinks the only parking that is actually viable are the 16 spaces inside the locked cage.
It’s a common sentiment, and TriMet is racing to catch up with demand for more secure bike parking.
“We had hoped to open three new bike-and-rides by now at the the Goose Hollow/SW Jefferson Station, Beaverton Creek Station and Gateway Transit Center,” TriMet Media Relations & Communications Manager Roberta Altstadt shared with us this morning. “However, we’ve experienced technology integration challenges that we continue to work to solve.”
Specifically, that challenge is related to TriMet’s new Hop Fastpass card. In theory, the Hop card should be riders’ effortless key to the entire TriMet system — whether that means using it as a fare card or unlocking a bike parking facility. Altstadt says they’ve got it mostly working at this point, but one problem remains: How to give access to the secure bike facility if someone loses their card.
According to Altstadt, the current solution is to have the rider use a video intercom that connects to a TriMet employee to confirm his/her/their identity and then the employee could open the gate remotely. But that requires integration with TriMet’s existing IT infrastructure and other staffing and protocol issues. “We would hope that comes together soon,” Altstadt says, “but unfortunately, we do not have a timeframe.”
UPDATE, 9/9: TriMet says they’ve decided to open these facilities. Below is the statement from Altstadt:
“I have an update on the bike and rides at the Goose Hollow/SW Jefferson St Station, Beaverton Creek Station and Gateway Transit Center. While we continue to work on the technology and staffing needed for video intercoms and the ability to remotely unlock the secure facilities should someone lose their Hop Fastpass® card, we are going with a temporary, low-tech solution right now. We have opened the bike and rides up for use with Hop cards. If someone loses their Hop card with their bike locked inside the facility, they will need to contact TriMet and we will send a security officer or TriMet employee to assist them. This may be within the hour, or it could take longer.
Here is the information we sent this morning to those who have asked about using the three new bike and rides:
– Registration required: Bring your Hop card and photo ID to the TriMet Ticket Office in Pioneer Courthouse Square (M–F, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.)
– These facilities are accessible exclusively with a Hop card. If you don’t have a Hop card, you can purchase one for $3 at the ticket office.
– Lock your bike to the rack inside using a quality chain or U-lock. (You’ll need to bring your own lock.)
– There is no charge to park at these locations.
We also encourage users to keep track of their Hop card, since there will be a delay getting into the bike and ride if they lose their card.
We thank those who have been wanting to use the secure bike parking facilities for their patience as we work through the details of providing a more simplified experience using our transit system with just a Hop card.”
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