These are the optimal locations for secure bike parking hubs in Portland

How about one of these Cycle Hubs from CycleHoop along the North Williams Ave corridor?

Secure bike parking hubs — a place to store your bike while you shop or work without relying only on your own lock — is an idea that’s older than you might think.

In 1996, Portland had three “bike central” locations where commuters could park bikes and a citywide network was envisioned thanks to dedicated funding from the federal government in the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). The idea came roaring back in 2007 when a “Bikestation” was in the running to take over the former McCall’s Restaurant adjacent to Salmon St. Springs. The idea gained momentum for a few years but ultimately fizzled out and Portland never opened a large, publicly accessible bike parking facility.

Those were the heydays of peak-hour commuting and an era when everyone assumed bicycle riders had to have showers and changing facilities. As bicycle styles and behaviors changed over the years, the need for showers and lockers has (thankfully) waned; but the need for secure bike parking has never been greater.

When I visited New York City last fall, I learned about a very intriguing solution known as Oonee pods. These publicly funded, privately operated facilities offer a high-tech, easy and secure solution for parking bikes in busy areas. They can be small for a half-dozen bikes in a neighborhood, or larger with dozens of spots in higher-traffic areas downtown.

But before someone brings an Oonee pod, Cyclehoop Cycle Hub or other product to Portland, we’ll need to figure out where to put them. And we can’t just go on vibes, because these only work when they are used.

Portland State University graduate student Brandon Barnhart has the answers. He just completed a project for his Advanced GIS class that used mapping and data analysis to find the optimal location for 10 secure bike parking areas. Barnhart shared his project on the BikeLoud PDX Slack channel this morning.

To find his locations, Barnhart ran the numbers on four factors: bike traffic demand, major destinations, proximity to affordable housing, and proximity to multi-family housing. After pushing all the data through various GIS modeling tools, here’s his list of “optimal bike parking hub locations”:

  • NW 21st and Johnson
  • NW 10th and Lovejoy
  • NW 10th and Glisan
  • NW Naito Pkwy near Union Station Crossing
  • NW 4th Ave and Flanders
  • SW 2nd Ave and Pine
  • NE Williams Ave and Russell
  • NE Williams Ave and Ivy
  • N Haight St and Failing
  • N Mississippi and Failing

Notably, there are no location in southeast, which is traditionally the area of the city with the most bicycling traffic. Barnhart noted that in his writeup: “I suspect that though southeast Portland has high amounts of bike traffic and destinations, the area doesn’t have the same levels of affordable and multi-family housing, compared to Northwest and North Portland.”

Barnhart also added that if he ran the numbers again he’d give more weight to places with more low-income housing.

Barnhart thinks the time is right for secure bike parking hubs because Portland’s bike theft problem is still out of control. And with skyrocketing interest in e-bikes, including a new city-funded rebate program set to launch next summer — there will be an even larger demand for safe bike parking. On a related note, Portland City Council adopted an ordinance at their meeting this morning that authorizes the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability to recruit and hire staff and organizations to run the forthcoming e-bike rebate program. A key part of that program is funding set-aside for low-income housing developments to develop bicycle parking areas.

Like Barnhart, the folks who created the Portland Clean Energy Fund’s e-bike rebate program understand that cycling will never reach its potential if the threat of theft remains high. Secure bike parking hubs could be the answer.

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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Mick O
Mick O
19 days ago

My understanding is that the Oonee pods relied on slick advertising space on the pods to be feasible. While I admire the desire to prioritize low-income areas, I suspect some of these places may not fetch premium advertising spends comparable to the Times Square location you visited. Alternate funding sources might be needed if you want to put Oonee pods in low-income areas.

Sarah Figliozzi
Sarah Figliozzi
19 days ago
Reply to  Mick O

This is absolutely the case. PBOT has spoken with them on numerous occasions. Further they require a huge amount of sidewalk, other right of way (street plazas!), or partnership with private land owners to ensure enough space for the large footprint. NYC’s streets have far more space than Portland’s.

Watts
Watts
19 days ago

Proximity to housing (low income, multifamily, or what have you) only matters if these are intended for long term bike storage. If they are short term parking, they need to be in shopping areas, near attractions, or adjacent to job sites.

Watts
Watts
19 days ago

What happened to the Bike Central facilities and their dedicated funding stream?

dw
dw
19 days ago

I’d love to see little bike sheds/lockers replace street parking spots. Like where you could rent an individual spot to park your bike for $20 a month, maybe different prices for different shapes/sizes. I think it would make it much more feasible for people who live in older apartment buildings to commute via bike. I’m lucky enough to have a bike room at my current spot but if I didn’t I’d have to carry my bike down four flights of stairs.

John D
John D
18 days ago

I’d love to see more secure bike parking. I do wish that we could also figure out a way have the business be more locally focused rather than another Big Tech solution.

Maybe some other PSU grad students can study what it would take for the government to provide subsidized commercial space in these areas, and have them run by local bike shops/bike mechanics as long as they provide bike storage.

Just spit balling of course. But if we’re going to be spending money on this program (which I think we should) it would be nice if more of it stayed in the local area.

Jose V
Jose V
18 days ago

What does affordable housing have to do with where to place needed bike parking? Seems like another weird Portlwnd ideological pursuit….

JR
JR
18 days ago

I would not place these adjacent to housing since almost all new housing comes with plentiful on-site bike parking. I’d feel more comfortable parking my bike in the building’s bike storage room than on a different property or the street. Even with all the bells and whistles of security these supposedly provide, it wouldn’t take long to break them down here. I would never consider leaving my bike outdoors overnight, “secured” or not, anywhere in Portland and that’s generally when residential bike parking is most needed. Housing areas are also generally quieter with lower foot traffic, so that throws the current operating model out the door.

I would prioritize proximity to destinations where the alternative is a staple rack. That means Rose Quarter, Providence Park, Hollywood, 23rd, Mississippi, Hawthorne, Belmont, Division. While the space is limited in these areas, a street plaza would make a good home. Maybe one downtown near Pioneer Square where it would need and get 24/7 security. Also, if their business model is advertising, these areas get much more street traffic.

Then there’s also the issue of vandalism. Unfortunately, in Portland, we can’t have nice things anymore. If anyone has been noticing, the streetcar and bus stops throughout the city are constantly having their glass broken and/or tagged. Buildings too. Portland Loos look like they’ve been through a major battle. The maintenance costs would be quite high and eventually these could become an attractive nuisance.

Brandon b
Brandon b
18 days ago

Hey everyone. I’m the Brandon cited in the article. Here’s a link to a presentation of my research: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/1efe19ba23ba41fdace5b877ff5eea97

The mention of the Oonee pods was primarily to provide a visual reference of what a secure bike parking hub could look like. I think ideally, the hubs should be provided by public entity. This is an example of secure parking provided by Sound Transit in Seattle: https://kingcounty.gov/en/dept/metro/rider-tools/bikes-and-transit/secure-bike-parking

My reasoning for selecting the criteria I did, is that the hubs could provide long term and short term parking. If someone lives in an older apartment several floors up, that may be a barrier to ever purchasing an ebike/cargo bike that could serve as a car replacement. Having a nearby parking hub could allow them the option to store a bike there. Additionally, my thoughts were to combine the criteria of areas with dense and affordable housing, with neighborhood business centers where people may commute to, so that there is secure parking in both locations.

Personally, I would like to see much larger bike storage options, similar to the one I use at PSU that you enter with badge access and there are always more than enough parking spots, whether you want to keep your bike there for a few hours or a few weeks.

I acknowledge that the research isn’t perfect. There are things I would adjust if I were to redo it, and I think something like this would need to go through several version of alteration with research and public input shaping the final results. But, I think it’s important to start figuring these things out if we do want to get more people to switch from cars to bikes. I appreciate Jonathan for sharing my research and all of you for reading it and providing feedback.

Watts
Watts
18 days ago
Reply to  Brandon b

If the facilities are intended for long-term bike storage, there has to be enough room for the inevitable collection of bikes stored long-term and rarely ridden. In one apartment I lived in, someone stored an exercise bike in the bike room for the three years I lived there. I guess the owner thought it was vaguely thematic so it was okay.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
17 days ago
Reply to  Watts

When I last traveled in Europe, I noted numerous train stations with huge rooms full of abandoned bicycles, mostly junky 3-speeds, but often thousands of them.

Brandon b
Brandon b
17 days ago
Reply to  Watts

I agree. I’ve also lived in an apartment with an exercise bike in the bike storage room haha. I think a system could be used for registering your bike for the storage area for a determined amount of time. PSU requires you register your bike with them in order to use the storage, and then you pay a fee to use it for the school year. Any bikes left over after the term without getting a new registration sticker are removed.

Watts
Watts
17 days ago
Reply to  Brandon b

I’ve also lived in an apartment with an exercise bike in the bike storage room haha

Howdy, neighbor!

Angus Peters
Angus Peters
17 days ago
Reply to  Brandon b

“I think ideally, the hubs should be provided by public entity”

Brandon,
“Provided” by a public entity means paid for with tax dollars. Given that Portland has some of the highest taxes in the nation and municipal services are lacking right now how would you propose to pay for this?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
17 days ago
Reply to  Angus Peters

Our cities already have extensive vehicle parking programs based on demand and to a certain extent “community need”, including using public space to store cars, SUVs, trailers, PODs/Ratpacks, camp sites, bicycle chop shops, transit stops, outdoor commercial restaurant seating, and so on. We also have parking garages, both publicly and privately owned, as well as private valet parking lots and metered parking. Why not extend that to bike parking as well? And so we do: we put staples on city sidewalks, corrals in the street, and even use public signposts; we also use such facilities when they are on private property such as at shopping centers and stores. Brandon’s proposal basically extends our bike parking options to include paid bike parking to places where it isn’t currently viable for various reasons; several commenters have pointed out where paid bike parking is viable already, not including the valet parking at the Pill Hill gondola.

How about a city-wide motor vehicle parking permit program? Since there is already such a program for the neighborhoods close to downtown, just extend it city-wide so that the burden is more fairly distributed. Half the funds collected go back into each neighborhood – use them to develop safe secure valet bike parking.

You could also ban all parking on all arterial stroads, which Gresham already does, and encourage business owners to collectively “condo-ize” their off-street parking facilities so that all users pay and help eliminate the free-rider issue.

Watts
Watts
17 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

How about a city-wide motor vehicle parking permit program? 

Currently, residents get a vote on whether to impose permit parking in their neighborhood. I believe this program is available city-wide to communities that want it. Most don’t.

Brandon b
Brandon b
17 days ago
Reply to  Angus Peters

Good question. I think a few options could be the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund or funds for strategic pedestrian and bicycle improvements from the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. We could also look to public-private partnerships. Do you have any ideas?

bjorn
bjorn
17 days ago
Reply to  Angus Peters

Perhaps from the same pool of funds used to provide free parking for motorists across most of the city…

Angus Peters
Angus Peters
17 days ago
Reply to  bjorn

I’m not familiar with that “pool of funds” that provides free parking.
What specifically are you referring to?

Watts
Watts
17 days ago
Reply to  bjorn

How much, exactly, does free parking cost the city, and which pool of funds is used to pay for it?

blumdrew
17 days ago
Reply to  Angus Peters

Portland has some of the highest taxes in the nation

Do you have a citation for this? Oregon has the 19th highest tax burden (combined state-local burden). Here is a study for 2021 of note on local jurisdictions. It’s broken out by income bracket, so let’s take a quick look.

For a family earning $25k/year, Portland has a 10% total tax burden – 47th/51 cities included (the largest city in each state + DC is included in this analysis). Average tax burden is 14.1% (sales taxes are so regressive!!!)

For a family earning $50k/year, Portland has a 9.9% total tax burden – 17th/51, average is 9.2%

For a family earning $75k/year, Portland has a 10.6% total tax burden – 16th/51, average is 9.7%

For a family earning $100k/year, Portland has a 10.8% total tax burden – 15th/51, average is 9.7%.

For a family earning $150k/year, Portland has a 11.1% total tax burden – 17th/51, average is 9.7%.

Though this study is from 2021, so perhaps the $150k rate is a bit low if the entirety of the Metro and Multnomah County taxes haven’t been considered – but those primarily affect very high earners (>$200k joint) and would barely move the needle on the 11.1% tax burden until you get well into the $500k/year range. Let’s consider the pre school for all tax for a $500k joint filing household. a 1.5% of income over $200k, 3% of income over $400k for joint filers, at $500k it would add a total of $6k in tax (1.5% of $200k btwn $200k and $400k, 3% of $100k btwn $400k and $500k). That extra $6k in tax is 1.2%. The Metro supportive housing services tax adds $3k in tax burden (1% of income over $200k), and that’s another 0.8%. This extra 2% might move Portland up to 5th at worst (13.1%) – but keep in mind that other places may have similar taxes on higher income earners, so it’s not wise to quote that. I would say it’s best to classify Portland as a “just above average” taxation place.

Anyways, there’s also a lot of nuance to consider here still though. The bulk of the tax burden in Portland is income, most of which goes to the state (some of this does go back to the city via other channels I think, plus the county and Metro also now levy income taxes). Property taxes make up ~40% of the tax burden for a $150k/year family – though I suspect this study did not look deeply into the void of property taxes in Oregon, so this is likely an overstatement (based primarily on measure 5 and 50 weirdness and Portland’s relatively hotter than the rest of the state housing market – well kind of anyways. It’s too much to go into details on that now).

In any case, since the property tax is the primary local government funding mechanism, and Oregon has a hard cap on property tax appreciation (3%, lower than inflation since the caps inception (late 1990s), and much lower than inflation has been in the past few years) there is a structural deficit that has more to do with the lack of municipal services than anything else. If revenue does not keep pace with costs, services are shoddy or non-existent. Because of the 3% assessed value cap, far less of the value captured in Portland’s real estate market has flowed back to the city, and instead has accrued to land owners. Just fixing Oregon’s property taxation system would go a long way to both adequately funding services we all need and rely on, but would also likely reduce the impetus for more “bespoke” taxes (like the aforementioned ones). It might increase the typical tax burden by a few points though, but I think that’s money well spent. The property tax has it’s problems, but the fixes of the mid to late 90s in Oregon have done little, if anything, to address them and have instead created a huge host of new problems – the most pressing of which is systematically under-funding municipalities

blumdrew
11 days ago
Reply to  Angus Peters

Most of these are not particularly useful reports for comparing total tax burden. Yes, Portland has high income taxes but it has zero sales tax, low auto taxes, and ~average property taxes (despite being a place with high real estate values). We live in a place where the income tax is the primary means of generating tax revenue, so of course if you compare it to places with high sales taxes it will look high.

If you are complaining about total taxes, and then only citing one of the many ways that tax revenue is generated (and one that Oregon is more dependent on for a variety of historic reasons that are not mentioned in any of the links you added) I’d ask if those things really matter in a broader talk about tax policy. Lowering income tax in favor of a sales tax, or higher property taxes, or some other thing might be a good economic choice – but I’ve seen little evidence of that. Income taxes are pretty good at generating revenue, and pretty fair. Sales taxes are less so, and property taxes are hard to judge well (other than our current system in Oregon is bad for no real reason).

BB
BB
17 days ago
Reply to  blumdrew

That’s a long post to tell us we are not taxed enough.
It’s not the taxes people pay, it is What they get for it.
This city can not pick up garbage, cannot remove graphiti, has 6000 people at least living on the streets despite a tax that collects millions to fix the problem.
We taxed ourselves a decent amount to NOT even trying to fix the drug problem.
We are taxed a lot for maybe the most inefficient government in the nation.
It’s great that the status quo has real defenders and cheerleaders like yourself. Yeah, we just a few tweaks and everything will be fine.

blumdrew
16 days ago
Reply to  BB

If revenue can’t rise to meet costs, then there will be problems funding services. That’s all my way-too-long comment is saying really. Saying that this needs to change is hardly cheerleading the status quo, I want a functional government that can fix problems without needing to float bonds or new taxes for routine work.

Portland has a lot of issues, and underfunding services while overfunding others is one of them. It’s worth trying to solve that! Some of those solutions may be small tweaks, and some may be massive changes.

But it’s also just not true that Portlanders pay uniquely high taxes, and I’m sick of people saying that we do

Watts
Watts
16 days ago
Reply to  blumdrew

We do not have uniquely high taxes, but we do have high taxes nonetheless, especially for the services we receive.

Some places with lower taxes manage to sweep the streets more than once per year, for example.

Our government is not corrupt (Shemia Fagan not withstanding), but it is inept. I blame a lack of political diversity at all levels of our government for that. We pay a lot for that ineptitude.

donel courtney
donel courtney
15 days ago
Reply to  blumdrew

If you make 20,000 per year here its taxed at 9 percent. What other state does that? At that income its certainly one of the highest if not the highest tax burden on income tax at least.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
15 days ago
Reply to  donel courtney

By most states in fact, by simply having a sales tax (6 to 8 %) plus local water/sewer rates, power taxes, and a whole slew of other invisible taxes, plus state income taxes for everything above $10,000. Lucky Oregon has no sales tax.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

While we don’t have a sales tax, we do have a range of more targeted consumption taxes: alcohol, weed, lottery tickets, gasoline, water, bicycles, phone lines, hotels, etc. And we also have a hidden general sales tax (PCEF), and may pass another in November.

None of that is comparable to an 8% general sales tax, but these smaller taxes are usually omitted from any comparative tax analysis.

Damien
Damien
16 days ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Do you have a citation for this?

There’s a currently popular thread among the “I used to be a liberal, but” online crowd at the moment that’s been conflating Portland’s income tax (above 200k) with “all taxes” to score rhetorical points.

…and when rebutted, as you’ve done (kudos), you inevitably get goalpost shifting and strawmanning, as predictably seen in the earlier reply to this comment.

qqq
qqq
17 days ago
Reply to  Angus Peters

 how would you propose to pay for this?

How about taking a small percentage of the profits made from operation of the acres of public park-and-ride lots?

JR
JR
17 days ago
Reply to  qqq

I think you’re referring to the public parking garages downtown and maybe the street parking income in metered districts. I think a portion of that revenue goes to public transit and bike projects already, so maybe it’s just a matter of prioritizing which projects get the funding, but it would come at the cost of other transit and bike programs. Something to think about though.

TriMet’s park-and-ride lots do not collect fees and right now there’s very little demand for them which is why TriMet has been working with developers to replace some of them with affordable housing.

qqq
qqq
17 days ago
Reply to  JR

I was being facetious. I was referring to exactly what I said–“public park-and-ride lots, and I knew they either don’t collect fees, or don’t collect enough to pay for themselves.

That’s the whole point–that (as several others also commented) vehicle parking spaces are often provided with no expectation that they’ll pay for themselves.

Watts
Watts
16 days ago
Reply to  qqq

Park and rides are TriMet’s solution to the fact that providing decent service to outlying areas is fiscally and environmentally impossible. If people’s aren’t using them, it’s because they’re staying in their cars and driving all the way to their destination.

Maybe this is because people have generally given up on transit, or maybe it’s because their destination have moved out from the city core where transit sort of works to areas where it doesn’t work at all.

qqq
qqq
16 days ago
Reply to  Watts

That could be. It could also be that subsidizing park-and-rides makes some sense. I was just using them as an example of vehicle parking that is publicly subsidized.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago
Reply to  qqq

I honestly don’t know whether park-and-rides still make sense or not; you know I am somewhat skeptical of the ability of transit to serve less-traveled routes, so cars (or something like them) will probably always have a role. The question for me is whether enough people want to transfer from car to transit mid-route to make maintaining these lots worthwhile.

I suspect that as our travel patterns have become more diffuse post-covid, and thus harder to serve via conventional transit, the answer is, increasingly, no.

Angus Peters
Angus Peters
16 days ago
Reply to  qqq

So your’re suggesting another tax or fee in overtaxed Portland?

qqq
qqq
16 days ago
Reply to  Angus Peters

No.

Chopwatch
Chopwatch
17 days ago

Needs to be built like a maximum security prison with rebars on exterior of the glass. Those panes will be smashed through in no time in Portland.