Bikeability

Bike Racks, Bike Sharing, Custom Work, Walkability, Bikeability, Liveability

Sustainability That Looks as Good as It Feels

Karl Miller Center

Portland State University just celebrated the grand opening of the Karl Miller Center, a state-of-the art facility featuring a bright, open atrium. This eye-catching building is a campus jewel, so the bike racks slated for installation right outside need to look the part. 

 

Clint Culpepper, the Bicycle Program Coordinator at PSU, could have purchased brand new racks to install, but utilizing refurbished bike racks better aligns with the university’s focus on sustainability. “Nothing would make me feel worse than turning a bunch of bike racks that were totally usable and serviceable into metal recycling just to buy brand new ones,” he said. Last year Clint enlisted the services of Huntco Site Furnishings to transform dozens of old, beat up staple racks into freshly painted bike corrals, and he decided it was time to refurbish a second batch.

From Clint’s perspective, the hardest part of the process is ensuring there is adequate capacity for bike parking while the old racks are removed and refreshed. The rest is as easy as making a phone call. Huntco picks up piles of assorted staple racks, sorts them, and welds matching racks onto sets of rails to make bike corrals. Fresh powder coating is applied and then the corrals are delivered back to PSU, looking good as new and ready for installation.

 

The updated bike corrals don’t just benefit campus cyclists. “Everyone on campus likes it when the bike racks look nice,” Clint reports. Not every user of a building wants to have a bike rack sitting right outside the front door, but there’s less resistance when the racks look good. So when the next batch of refurbished racks is delivered in a few weeks, rest assured that the Karl Miller Center will get the dazzling accessories it deserves.

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All Photos:  Thomas Teal 

 

Bike Racks, Bikeability, Liveability, Walkability

More Ideas from France: How to Turn an Orphaned Lot into a Neighborhood Treasure

Every city has orphaned lots: those islands of land stranded by an unfortunate intersection, too small or oddly-shaped to build on. But while some linger as undignified patches of asphalt or concrete, others become true neighborhood amenities, often because of smart use of street furniture and bike infrastructure.

Here in the US where uniform grids reign supreme, a triangular plot of land is pretty rare. But in European cities, defined by centuries of overlapping urban design, they’re everywhere. Lille, a city in northern France that we’ve written about before, is no exception. Here’s one cut-off triangle, in the working-class Moulins neighborhood:

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What potential do you see in that little triangle? A park? A bikeshare station? A patch of calm in the urban fabric that draws people together? How about all three?

Here’s what it looks like at ground level:

This little scrap of land, it turns out, has a lot going on: shaded benches, a line of bike racks, a heavily-used bikeshare station, and a perimeter of bollards to protect the whole thing. What could’ve been an urban afterthought is, instead, a neighborhood gathering point, serving commuters in the morning and evening, and friends and families in the afternoon and evening.

 

It also makes nearby outdoor seating much more attractive—here’s a mid-morning view from “Le Triporteur”, a restaurant/cafe across the street:

By 7pm, that patch of sidewalk will be packed with local residents, eating frites and drinking Belgian beer, despite heavy traffic on the major avenue right out front.

It’s a scene replicated all over town, and in countless other European cities: find an orphaned bit of land, protect it from traffic, add features that invite bikers and pedestrians, and you quickly have a little slice of community, that entices people outside and into local businesses.

 

 

Here’s another example, along Rue Solferino, a busy street about a mile away:

What was just a strip too narrow to build on instead becomes a lovely, bollard-protected public square, enhanced by trees, art, and seating for a facing cafe

Obviously, there’s more to these wonderful public spaces than just some bollards and a couple of benches, but they couldn’t exist without them. Infrastructure does more than just provide a place to sit. It also defines a space and lays a foundation. And what these tiny parks—and thousands of others like them—clearly show, is that once that foundation is laid, amazing things can happen in the most neglected places.

 

Bike Racks, Bikeability, Liveability

Bike Parking App: Snap a Rack, Build a Map

 Rack Locator

Rack Locator

Nathaniel Burnett, cycling enthusiast and founder of The Bicycle Parking Project, hopes that his app will eliminate one excuse people have for not riding their bikes. The app utilizes both external data sources and user-generated content to create a map of existing bike racks. Users can plan ahead or instantly locate bike parking near their destination without scrambling to find a secure rack on foot.

Publicly available data from many metropolitan areas including New York, San Francisco, and Chicago have already been imported into the app, populating several thousand bike racks per city. App users have occasionally supplied city data, too. A cyclist in Omaha, Nebraska, wanted local racks to be included on the map. He contacted the city to request the required information and forwarded the resulting data file to Nathaniel. Omaha’s bike racks were on the map later that same day.

 

Users can add individual bike racks by quickly snapping and submitting a photo through the app. The new location marker and corresponding photo detail is displayed in real time, though Nathaniel monitors all submissions and deletes any that aren’t legitimate. User-added rack locations have popped up across the globe, including cities in Europe, India, Australia, and South America. Users can also report location markers where the rack is missing, typically due to an error in the data file.

 DIY Rack Mapping

DIY Rack Mapping

 Adding the rack photo to the map

Adding the rack photo to the map

 A pin indicates the rack has been added

A pin indicates the rack has been added

Before creating his own, Nathaniel tried using another bike parking app. He was disappointed that the new racks he submitted were never incorporated into the map and wanted his version to empower fellow cyclists to actively develop this community resource. The more users interact with the app, the more refined and helpful the map will become.

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For cyclists who don’t need help finding parking, the app has one additional tool: it allows users to drop a pin to mark the location of their bike. In areas where bike racks are prevalent or in unfamiliar neighborhoods, this feature ensures riders don’t forget where they parked.

The Bicycle Parking Project app is available for both iOS and Android. While the number of downloads is still in the thousands, the positive feedback Nathaniel has received from users encourages him to continue the work. As the map becomes more comprehensive in local areas, it may also become a resource that city officials and business owners utilize to identify where there is an absence of bicycle parking.

Header Image Courtesy CC: Diane Yee

 

Bikeability, Liveability, Walkability

Plan for Pedestrian and Bicycle Green Loop Unveiled at Design Week Portland

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Image: Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

According to the 2035 Comprehensive Plan published last year, the city of Portland is expected to grow by 260,000 people in the next two decades. As any Portland resident will tell you, the current infrastructure does not support the transportation needs of today’s population, let alone this anticipated spike. To accommodate such rapid growth, the Comprehensive Plan advocates for solutions that will make Portland a more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly city, by both increasing access to active transportation and rethinking how neighborhoods are developed.

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One of the proposed projects is construction of a six-mile pedestrian and bicycle “green loop” that will connect the inner east and west sides of Portland. The John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape partnered with Design Week Portland to solicit creative proposals to conceptualize and design the loop. The winner of the competition, Untitled Studio, not only imagined an ecofriendly, multi-use transportation path but also introduced a collaborative process as the means to design it.

Last month at Design Week Portland Headquarters, Untitled Studio revealed their vision for “Portland’s Living Loop.” The exhibit generated excitement for the project and included opportunities for audience engagement, mirroring the participatory process that will inform the green loop’s development in the years ahead. Though the loop will serve as a critical pedestrian and bicycle route across the city, Untitled Studio also positioned it as a destination and center of community. According to their model, the loop is divided into four lanes, corresponding to the Central City, District, Neighborhood, and Block. The purpose and design of each lane is decided by the people represented by the lane, from the city as a whole down to the individuals, families and businesses that reside along a particular block.

Image: Untitled Studios

Images from Untitled Studio's green loop proposal, view the full proposal here.

 

The possibilities for what the green loop could become are endless. Could the neighborhood benefit from an outdoor fitness space with fixtures installed for exercise? Would an urban garden plot be advantageous for a particular block or do businesses need space to install dedicated bike parking? Does the district want a central space for the community to gather, with ample benches for seating and trees for shade on hot summer days? According to the model, any of these options–and so many more–could be incorporated into the loop alongside the transportation paths.

Image from Untitled Studio's green loop proposal, view the full proposal here.

 

Civic projects of this scale are often dictated by the local government. Untitled Studio proposed this four-lane model as a way to engage the residents of Portland and ensure that the people who are most affected by construction of the loop are entitled to contribute to its design. Neighborhoods might hold town hall meetings or survey residents to identify solutions that best serve their community. Individuals and businesses on a single block might organize a potluck to meet each other and brainstorm ideas for their lane of the loop.

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Image: Design Week Portland, community feedback wall, via Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

 

How this participatory model of design will translate from vision to reality is uncertain. Construction of the green loop will take place in stages as funding is secured, with a few key portions already completed (Tilikum Crossing) or in development. Yet if this process is successfully implemented, it could become a model for numerous other pedestrian and bicycle greenway projects that are slated for development in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

 

View the green loop presentation here

 

Bike Racks, Bike Rooms, Bike Theft, Custom Work, Liveability, Bikeability

The Peloton Apartments: Helping a Bike-Themed Building Live Up to its Name

 (Image courtesy peloton Apartments)

(Image courtesy peloton Apartments)

When the name of your apartment complex is Peloton, you pretty much have to get the bike amenities right. And the Peloton Apartments, recently completed on a rapidly growing stretch of North Williams Avenue in Portland, does not disappoint.

For the non-bike-nerds out there, a peloton is a group of cyclists riding in tight formation, to reduce air drag during a race or group ride. It might seem like an odd name for a brand new, somewhat luxurious housing development whose tenants are more likely to be programmers than bike mechanics, but this is Portland after all, and the bike-friendly lifestyle takes all kinds. It helps that the Peloton’s three buildings are flanked on either side by two of the busiest bike routes in the city: in warmer months, rush hour traffic on North Williams and its southbound sister North Vancouver is upwards of 40% bicycles.

 Santoprene protects on the Burnside racks.

Santoprene protects on the Burnside racks.

So in addition to three rooftop decks and some beautifully tricked-out common areas, the Peloton also serves as a kind of showcase of great bike amenities. There’s a whole ground-level bike parking area in the main building, equipped with dozens of Huntco’s Burnside staple racks, their elegant rectangular tubing softened on the edges with Santoprene bumpers, to protect delicate paint jobs. And set back from the woonerf that divides the complex (a delightful Dutch-style alleyway, accessible to the public) is a protected bike room with more than 200 Huntco Hawthorne wall-mounted racks, perfect for that second (or third) bike you don’t use quite as often.

 BV-1 bike lockers and Burnside racks

BV-1 bike lockers and Burnside racks

Banking on the idea that several tenants will have bikes that they treasure and pamper, there’s an in-building Bike Club room with bench-mounted repair stands and a variety tools, and 10 gorgeous, mint-colored BV-1 bike lockers. Between these amenities, even the most road-obsessed tenant is going to feel well taken care of — an unusual value proposition for an apartment building.

 

The net effect of all these amenities, so thoughtfully installed, is a sense that this is a place that really means what it says. There are plenty of new apartment buildings using bike-centric imagery or messaging to sound more current, or more eco-friendly, but for anyone really making a go of active transportation as a daily habit, this kind of infrastructure is more than just a nice afterthought — it’s a game changer.