OHSU rides toward low-car future in South Waterfront

The Go By Bike valet and repair shop is coming back to life after Covid doldrums. (Photos: Taylor Griggs/BikePortland)

“Anything that will assist someone with not having to use a single occupancy vehicle to get to campus is good.” —Brett Dodson, OHSU

Portland’s array of transportation options converge at the base of the Aerial Tram near the Oregon Health & Science University’s South Waterfront campus.

If you stand on SW Moody Ave outside the lower tram terminal for a few minutes and take a look around, you’ll see: the tram above you; Portland Streetcar rumbling by; the 35 and 36 TriMet buses; Biketown and OHSU bike share stations; and people rolling their own bikes to Go By Bike, the largest bike valet in North America. A glance to the north and you’ll see the MAX light rail, and you might even catch a few people riding by on electric scooters.

This is to say people in the South Waterfront neighborhood and OHSU visitors do not want for mobility options. And though the pandemic presented challenges, the vision for a low-car future is stronger than ever.

Advertisement

Better bike share

An upgraded Go By Bike Share station near the base of the tram.

OHSU has operated its own Go By Bike Share program free of charge to anyone with a university email address since 2015 , and the service was given a recent revamp with upgraded bikes and a new app making it easier to reserve one.

According to Brett Dodson, who directs transportation and parking at OHSU, about 100 people have made accounts and are using the bike share service since they rolled it out last month.

Dodson says one of the reasons he and his team want to ensure adequate campus transit options is to prepare for the TriMet Division Transit Project expected to launch later this year. This project will bring enhanced bus service to the Division corridor and will become yet another way to get from the east side of Portland to the South Waterfront.

“We’re expecting an increase in employees using that route and bringing additional ridership over the Tilikum Bridge,” Dodson told me in a recent phone call. “We need to have a way to connect them from transit and get them to campus.”

At the Go By Bike valet and repair shop, which recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary, business is picking back up. On May 10, Go By Bike parked 249 bikes, the highest number since before the pandemic hit.

Pre-pandemic, the valet service was nearly busting out of parking space to store people’s bikes. They aren’t seeing those kinds of numbers now, with temperamental weather and teleworking likely partly responsible, but the figures are trending upwards.

Advertisement

New pedicab shuttle

Go By Bike owner Kiel Johnson tested out the new pedicab service at an event earlier this month. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

OHSU used to operate a van shuttle service as an additional way to help people get from the South Waterfront to the upper campus, but that went dark during the pandemic and won’t be returning. Instead, Go By Bike will operate a pedicab service – the only one in the city right now – to move people around. Dodson says this option is important for people who aren’t able to use a bike or scooter, and he hopes it will mean no net increase in drivers even in the absence of the old shuttle.

“We haven’t had shuttles for a year and a half, and things have been going fairly well,” Dodson says. “The majority of people are able to get around with bike share, walking and scooters. But the pedicab will be there to replace the shuttle for the people who need it.”

He says we should see one pedicab in operation by July, and depending on how things go, they’ll bring in a second one.

Dodson says the pandemic didn’t change his desire for a carfree future in the South Waterfront and around OHSU’s campus.

“We have a strong transportation demand management plan,” he says. “Anything that will assist someone with not having to use a single occupancy vehicle to get to campus is good.”

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

14 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
pigs
pigs
6 months ago

Yet I hear of an OHSU expansion that would include a parking garage with a couple hundred spaces.

josef
josef
6 months ago

“Anything that will assist someone” except for expanding the tram’s hours…

Chris I
Chris I
6 months ago
Reply to  josef

At least they finally opened it back up to the public earlier this month. The public closure lasted for 2 years, regardless of Covid peaks and troughs.

Douglas Kelso
Douglas Kelso
6 months ago

Biking into that area would get even more attractive if the City could get those last segments of the Willamette Greenway trail built. I wish the City would put in a cheap riverfront path with gravel and blacktop while waiting on developers to provide a more permanent trail.

In terms of varied transit options: one of my wilder ideas for South Waterfront transit was a fully automated express monorail weaving through the I-5 right-of-way from Rose Quarter TC to the Ross Island bridge. I have no idea whether it would pencil out economically, though.

Sigma
Sigma
6 months ago
Reply to  Douglas Kelso

It wouldn’t.

pigs
pigs
6 months ago
Reply to  Douglas Kelso

Biking anything more than leisure on that part of the greenway kind of sucks. Its narrow, curvy, and a lot of people walking makes it hard to be able to just get to your destination.

Fred
Fred
6 months ago

True dat, Brandon. Every business, hospital, school, college – every organization of any size in Portland needs to set up bike valet services. People are NOT going to choose to ride until their nice bikes are safeguarded in the same way their nice cars are. OHSU provides other great incentives for cycling – they are really a model in this area and I’m happy to support them with payments for medical services.

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
6 months ago

More money for the OHSU black hole while pedestrians on the east side of town are forced to walk in the street because of lack of sidewalks.

Ask your doctor if they bike to work @ OHSU, that would be good for a laugh.

pigs
pigs
6 months ago
Reply to  Tomas Paella

SW also lacks a lot of non-car infrastructure for people to bike to OHSU. Despite only living 4 miles away from OHSU, 3 of my neighbors that work there all drive. I don’t blame people for not wanting to bike to work when the bike infra to get to terwilliger is unsafe.

Lisa Caballero (Asst. Editor / SW Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Tomas Paella

Huh? SW Portland has the least sidewalk coverage on arterials and collector streets, by far, of any area in Portland. Only about 30% (I’m going from memory) of major SW streets have a sidewalk. The next worst area is E. Portland, with about double that coverage.

Bus service is also sparse in SW. One of my gripes about OHSU/TriMet is that yes, it’s easy to get to OHSU from the east side, but try reaching it from the west side. Try getting there from, say, Portland Heights. You can walk in the mud on the side of the road along Fairmount, onto the ditch on the side of the road down Marquam Hill Rd, or you can bike, which, yes, people do. An e-bike helps.

I’ve got beefs with OHSU parking, but I haven’t looked into it recently, so I’ll hold my tongue.

Benjamin
Benjamin
6 months ago
Reply to  Tomas Paella

I work at OHSU and see doctor’s riding to work every day!

Laura
Laura
6 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin

I went through cancer treatment at OHSU. Spend a year in my journey. 2/3 of my core medical team biked to work. I biked to chemo, but got a car ride home. Many of the folks I encountered on my journey, from nurses, techs, docs, and even billing and reception folks biked or bike/tram to work.

Lisa Caballero (Asst. Editor / SW Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Laura

Thank you for sharing this Laura.

X
X
6 months ago

Yes. Hello PBOT? Here’s a model that you can study, polish, foster and maybe even finance? If city bureaus talk to each other permits shouldn’t be a problem…