Bike

Bike Rooms, Bikeability, Custom Work, Liveability, Walkability

Bike Garages: Where to Park Your Bike, When Everyone Rides Their Bike

Welcome to Amsterdam!

If you read our blog, then you might already know that Amsterdam has some of the world’s best-designed bike infrastructure, which helps explain why over half of all commutes in the Dutch city are by bike. This has lots of benefits—less traffic congestion, better health, safer streets—but it also poses a surprising problem: where to put all those bikes when people aren’t riding them.

In residential neighborhoods, the solution is bike racks and corrals, often mounted on sidewalk bump-outs in quiet side streets.

Photo Credit:  Carl Alviani

Photo Credit: Carl Alviani

But what about places where everybody wants to park? When Amsterdammers take the train, go to the library, work in a big office park, or see a movie or concert, they often arrive by bike. At places this popular, a few racks won’t cut it.

Enter the underground bike garage. Most Dutch cities have a few of them; Amsterdam has over 20. To American ears, it might sound extreme to dig out a garage just for bikes, but it’s not really that different from the bike rooms that office and apartment buildings in the US increasingly offer. In both cases, the idea is simple: provide a safe, easily accessible, weather-protected place to park, and people are more likely to make biking a habit, and not take up so much expensive car parking. In the Netherlands, the logic (and benefits) are just scaled up to the city level.

Here’s one example of a gemeentelijke fietsenstallingen (municipal bike parking) garage. This one’s next to Paradiso, a legendary concert hall and nightclub located in a converted church next to the Singelgracht canal.

Photo Credit: Carl Alviani

A lot of thought goes into the design of garages like these, starting with getting in and out. Larger garages often have ramps or moving walkways, but this is a relatively small fietsenstallingen, so you take the stairs. Notice, though, that there are small channels on either side to roll your bike down.

On closer inspection, these turn out to be more than just ramps. The “downhill” channel on the right side is lined with stiff bristles that grip your bike tire and slow its decent. The “uphill” one is actually a tiny conveyor belt! — simply roll your bike onto the yellow strip, lock your brakes, and it automatically starts moving, carrying your bike up the steps while you walk alongside.

Photo Credit: Carl Alviani

Because space is at a premium, nearly all garages use double-decker parking, with an elevated row of racks that slide out and tilt down on a small pneumatic piston. This allows for incredible density: Amsterdam’s newest bike garage in the Strawinskylaan office district holds 3750 bikes, but fits underneath a road overpass.

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Most garages are staffed and guarded, and charge a (very small) fee for secure, overnight parking, which you pay with a debit or transit card upon check-out. The larger ones also offer bike repair stands, in case you need to make an adjustment or fix a flat before heading out.

And some of them are quite beautiful.

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Images:    domusweb.it

Images: domusweb.it

Interested in adding a little Dutch-style convenience to your office, residential, or municipal development? Our range of racks and furniture is extensive, and we customize for just about any situation.

Bikeability, Liveability, Quick Tips

No Bad Weather, Just Good Gear

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We all know this time of year brings plenty of cold, wet conditions to the Pacific Northwest. But that doesn’t have to mean putting the bike away until spring. From bike commuting to recreational riding, or even heading out for some last-minute holiday shopping on two wheels, anyone can enjoy winter cycling in less-than-ideal conditions, it’s just a matter of being prepared. Here are six winter gear essentials that every bicyclist should own.

We’re including a few examples of our favorites in each category. We’ve found that these pieces fit and perform well without breaking the bank, but there are plenty of options out there that will get the job done. (No one’s paying us to say this, we swear. We just really, really appreciate good gear.) We recommend always comparing products, reading customer reviews, and considering personal preference and individual needs when choosing gear—whether it’s for you or that die-hard cyclist on your list.

1. Versatile Base Layer

It’s easy to overdress for cold-weather riding, but our bodies produce plenty of warmth as soon as we start pedaling. The key to comfort is wearing layers that are waterproof, breathable and sweat-wicking. Choose a base layer made of Merino wool or any synthetic wicking fiber like polyester or nylon/spandex. Avoid cotton, it will soak up sweat and hold it next to the body. Check out the Gore Windstopper base layer. It’s a versatile and comfortable long-sleeve that does well to block wind and manage moisture. At around $80 it’s an excellent baselayer with an attractive price tag.

 

2. Waterproof Jacket

Again, you don’t need a lot of warmth from a cycling jacket. Focus on finding a lightweight shell that’s waterproof and breathable. You can always add an extra layer underneath for especially chilly days. Look for a jacket with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment, which makes water bead and roll off. The Double Century RTX jacket from Portland-based Showers Pass is a lightweight and super-functional shell with a drop hem in the back for extra protection.

 

3. Commuter-Friendly Pants

The easy solution here is to throw a pair of pullover rain pants on top of your standard everyday slacks—the Marmot PreCip Pant performs well for its minimal price tag of around $55. But affordable options can be ill-fitting and not durable, making them prone to catching, tearing or wearing through. If you’re willing to spend a little more, the Arc’teryx A2B Chino and the Coalatree Trailhead Pant are solid entries in the multi-function pant category. Both offer flexibility with a water-repellent finish, and look just enough like your business-casual slacks to fit right in at the office or coffee shop.

 

4. Biking Gloves

Hands don’t benefit from all that body heat that the legs and torso get from pedaling, so a good set of gloves is one of the most important pieces of gear for a safe and enjoyable winter ride. Look for gloves that are waterproof, or at least water-repellent. Durable materials like leather on the palms add protection in case of a wipeout, and silicone details on the fingers and palms can give you a secure grip even in the rain. Sealskinz Dragon Eye Gloves are durable and close-fitting, with great dexterity for a range of activities.

 

5. Fenders

Bike fenders have come a long way from the rattling chrome monstrosities of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Most fit easily onto virtually any bike frame, and can be quickly attached and removed depending on the weather. Of course, fenders block water from spraying up onto the rider, but more importantly they can prevent mud, sticks and other debris from launching into bike wheels and drivetrains, which can prevent accidents and save on repair costs in the long run. Planet Bike’s Cascadia fenders are a solid choice for full-fender coverage, and the SKS Xtra-Dry is a surprisingly-effective rear mudguard that attaches in a snap and retails for under $20.

 

6. Bike Lights

Powerful, dependable lights are a good idea to carry any time of year. But that’s especially true in the winter months, when daylight hours are limited and rain reduces visibility even further. Whether you’re riding on city streets or rural roads, it’s important to consider not only how well you can see, but how well you can be seen. Consider how long, how often, and in what setting you’ll do most of your night riding, and look for a set of lights that fits your needs. Serfas offers a wide selection from permanent-mounts to quick-release and everything in between. The Blackburn 2-Fer Combo light is USB rechargeable and keeps you visible to other riders and drivers. Each light is interchangeable, with toggling headlight and taillight settings and a quick-release clip. Versatility and a modest price tag make the 2-Fer a great entry-level option.

 

These are just a few examples of the quality winter-weather cycling products available. Hopefully this list provides some insight and a solid place to start your search. Experiment with what works best for you. Consider function and price point. Most importantly‚ enjoy the ride!

 

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

 

Bike Racks, Liveability, Bike Rooms

A Bike-Friendly Brewery is Up Front About its Commitment to Cycling

When Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing decided to expand operations to Asheville, North Carolina, they knew bikes were going to be involved before they even got started. The brewery’s flagship beer is called Fat Tire, after all, in reference to the European bike journeys that first inspired its founders, and bikes have featured prominently on its labels and marketing efforts for years. What non-Coloradans might not know is that Fort Collins, where the brewery has its headquarters, is one of the bike-friendliest cities in the nation, a fact that New Belgium has both embraced and encouraged since its founding 25 years ago

In addition to brewing beer in Asheville, New Belgium also constructed a 141,000 square foot distribution facility – essentially an enormous refrigerated warehouse – that employs dozens of local residents and earned LEED Platinum certification shortly after opening in 2015. The Huntco-built Fin bike racks out front were part of that, but they also send a message: that bikes and beer are part of a happy, healthy life, and that New Belgium wants to see more of both.

“Some of our employees have actually bought homes within biking distance of the distribution center,” says Michael Craft,

a long-time employee who moved out to Asheville after the expansion. He goes on to explain that Asheville’s improving bike infrastructure, combined with New Belgium company incentives (employees get a free bike after one year on staff), has attracted workers inclined toward active transportation, and inspired others to give it a try.

 

Having a great-looking place to lock up when you get to work certainly doesn’t hurt either.

 

Photography: Oppenheim Photo

 

Bike Racks, Custom Work, Liveability

Bike Rack Resurrection

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Recycling’s usually something we associate with beer cans, soda bottles and newspapers — simple things you can dump into a hopper and watch new products emerge from the other end (or something like that). Recycling’s not for anything big, expensive or useful we’re told, especially if we inquire about a damaged electronic gadget, and are advised to simply get a new one. 

We already had a bunch of racks piled in a storage area, and realized there was a lot we could probably do with them.
— Clint Culpepper, Bicycle Program Coordinator at PSU

old racks, removed for construction

What about bike racks though? Clint Culpepper, the Bicycle Program Coordinator at Portland State University, faced this question a few months back, when a series of construction projects required removal of dozens of old staple racks. “We already had a bunch of racks piled in a storage area, and realized there was a lot we could probably do with them.”

 

In the early days of on-campus bike parking (more than, say, 10 years ago), racks were bolted into the concrete individually — a pretty labor-intensive approach when you’ve got thousands of bikes to accommodate. These days, the Bike Corral is the gold standard: four staple racks welded to two strips of plate steel for perfect positioning, better security, and faster installation.

 

Because most of the cost of a bike rack is in the steel, reuse makes a lot of sense, both environmentally and economically

prepped for fresh coating

“We basically called up Casey [Rice, at Huntco],” says Culpepper, “and said ‘Can you take care of this for us?’” Over the course of a few weeks, we trucked over 100 used racks of various sizes, shapes and states of repair into our shop. We burned off the old chipped paint, cut off the mounting flanges, welded them into corrals, and sent them off for powder-coating. 

 

The result? 40 pristine corrals of consistent height and shape, in flawless PSU green, ready for installation. The cost? 40% less than buying new ones, not to mention massive energy savings by keeping the old ones out of the scrapyard. 

recycled, Refreshed and ready to roll

a new life, as corrals

Culpepper explains that reuse is already a familiar option for PSU: a popular, long-running campus program has been refurbishing old bikes and providing them to students for years, part of an overall ethic of getting the most out of what you already have. As the campus continues to grow and evolve, and the fraction of students biking to school keeps rising, refurbished infrastructure doesn’t just make sense for the environment, it also makes sense for the bottom line.

 

Liveability, Bike Racks

More Parking in the Pearl? Yes.

Bike Parking, that is!

 

We're proud to announce the new LEED-Gold-pursuing Pearl West building, designed by Hacker Architects and GBD, installed stainless steel Sol racks. They've done a beautiful job with the built-in outdoor furnishings to create a walkable, park-like space. 

 

Go test em out! (It's a good excuse to swing by REI, up on the next block.)

 

We were lucky enough to get an install shot.

And we stopped by the other day to see the finished space. Cant wait to see some businesses in there. (Our designer is super excited about the Wacom Store already.)

 

Bike Racks, Liveability

Why do bike corrals look like that?

IMAGE CREDIT: THE IMPRESSION THAT I GET / CC 2.0 LICENSE

Here in Portland, bike corrals are a big deal. These on-street rack clusters have been popping up in front of commercial and public venues since 2001, and the city currently boasts over 130 of them – more than any other city in North America, and enough to hold over 2000 bikes. You’ve probably heard about their advantages already: 10 times the vehicle density of car parking, better businesses visibility, improved pedestrian safety (especially when installed near intersections), not to mention the fact that bike-bound customers tend to visit more often and spend more.

 

The way these corrals get designed and installed has changed a lot over the years, though, and their standardized form gives some great pointers for anyone trying to design a public bike parking area. Take a look at the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s official design drawing, and a few things immediately jump out.

Click to Enlarge

For one thing, every rack has breathing room: 28 inches between racks, and two feet from the curb. Years of trial and error have shown this to be the sweet spot, maximizing parking density while still letting riders fit a bike on both sides of each rack. And unlike those first corrals in front of PGE (now Providence) Park, which placed racks perpendicular to the curb, current corrals angle them in about 30 degrees. This keeps bikes from intruding too much on the active roadway--especially important when you’re parking a longtail with an extended wheelbase. 

 

The other big advancement is in how corrals get protected and accessed. Other early examples, like the corral in front of Stumptown Coffee on SE Belmont St, are completely surrounded by raised curbs and reflective posts, which do a great job of keeping cars out, but also make it tough to roll a heavily loaded bike in. Current designs put a raised parking block at either end, but leave the long, street-facing side open, marked off with a bold reflective stripe. Combined with bike-stenciled access spaces at either end, this creates a sort of miniature bike parking lot with easy roll-in and roll-out.

"EARLY VERSION" IMAGE CREDIT: SCOTT BEALE / LAUGHING SQUID / CC 2.0 LICENSE

"CURRENT VERSION" IMAGE CREDIT: GREG RAISMAN / CC 2.0 LICENSE

The bad news, if you’re a street-facing business in Portland, is that these corrals are so popular that there’s a year-long waiting list to get one installed. The good news for everyone else, though, is that these principles work just about anywhere else, and the math is the same: a 29’ corral holds 12 bikes, versus just a single car when parallel parked.

 

 

For more information, check out Huntco’s Bike Corral product page.

 

Liveability

A crowdsourced repair stand takes up the slack in a town with no bike shops

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The town of Milwaukie borders Portland just to the south, and it’s a lovely place to live. Besides its river views, great parks and gorgeous Craftsman houses, Milwaukie’s enjoying newfound popularity thanks to the recent arrival of the new Orange Line -- a light rail project that whisks residents to downtown Portland car-free in under 30 minutes. What it doesn’t have is a bike shop.

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For a community so perfectly suited to low-car living, this is kind of a problem. According to local group Bike Milwaukie, the number of families using bikes to get around has shot up in recent years, but they have to head north for repairs and tune-ups. So Bike Milwaukie had an idea: they might not be able to start up a new bike shop, but wouldn’t a publicly accessible bike repair station be the next best thing?

 

Through a successful Kickstarter project, Bike Milwaukie and 33 (mostly local) donors banded together to raise $2800 for a high-quality bike repair stand, built by Minneapolis-based Bike Fixtation. The stand, purchased through Huntco, features Allen keys, screwdrivers, tire levers, pedal, headset and cone wrenches, and a heavy duty pump: everything you need to conduct basic maintenance and quick fixes. Better yet, the organizers at Bike Milwaukie worked with the local government to get the stand installed in a high profile location right in front of City Hall.

 

Even though we didn’t build this particular piece of infrastructure, it’s nice to be reminded how the right amenity in the right place can do more than just fill a need — it can help focus an entire community.

 

 

Bike Racks, Bike Sharing

Learning to (Bike) Share: Exploring Multi-User Cycling

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Adding a bike share system is an excellent way for any major metro to cut down on traffic, add easy travel options for tourists and city dwellers alike, and boost local economy. 

Cities nationwide are implementing public and private programs, each with a different way of payment and different share policies. The question for bike share planners: Is there a simple method for people to share bikes?

 

Huntco Site Furnishings and Go By Bike Make it Easy
 

The Portland program, set up at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus, is the latest site to try out the bike share model that was originally developed at Intel® and has been further explored by the Open Bike Initiative.  

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Go By Bike stand image courtesy: gobybikepdx.com

 

Even though a high tech company designed the system–there is not a lot of tech involved–making the system simple and easy to use. The Go By Bike share at OHSU uses distinctive blue bikes, blue metal bike racks by Huntco, and a combination U-lock for secure bike lockup. 

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Go By Bike U-Lock image courtesy: bikeportland.org

 

OHSU employees and students, who register with an OHSU email, can choose a bike from the rack and text a number to receive the bike’s specific U-lock combination. Users can access the system within a day of signup.

 

The open-source lock-based system lowers the barrier of capital startup costs, which for Docking systems can be out of reach for smaller budgets. Docking stations are around $50,000 each, require a power source, and the bikes must be locked to a slot in the dock. Kiel Johnson, the owner of Go By Bike, estimates that this 2-node, 13-bike system costs under $9,000 to set up. He also notes "Setting up the technical part of the system costs $900, the only other part are custom racks and bikes + maintenance…great for businesses and campuses."

 

Locks vs. Docks

Using locks facilitates a more conventional bike usage style. Cyclists can ride and run errands as they wish, without having to worry about finding a specific docking station while using the borrowed bike to avoid overtime fees. 


Docking stations can be necessary where urban bike parking is sparse or inconsistent. These docking stations are a way to claim public space, and ensure a safe location out of high traffic areas. This is less of an issue when an area has plenty of space in the form of protected racks and lockup areas. 

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Image courtesy: Adam Fagen/cc/flickr

 

It is yet to be seen if docks or locks are the better long-term answer. The appropriateness of each structure will vary from city to city and will depend on the existing views regarding bikes, infrastructure, and political disposition. 

 

Portland-wide Bike Share

Starting in the summer of 2016, Portland, Oregon will experiment with a hybrid of dock and lock methods. The large-scale 75-station/750-cycle system, run by Motivate (of CitiBike fame) will feature credit card payment machines at bike drop-off/pick-up locations. The custom bikes come with smart locks and can be parked at any rack for the duration of the cycle trip. Bikes will need to be returned to a Motivate station when the cyclist is finished with their excursion.  


DIY Bike Share? 

Smaller, DIY operators that are interested in providing low-maintenance/-infrastructure bike shares have the potential to crop up all over Portland. Neighborhood associations, facility managers, small businesses, campus associations, city councils, and hospitality ventures have a vested interest in promoting bike share systems. 

 

The Ace Hotel, a Portland fixture, has started its own bike share program and offers house bikes to borrow for free, or hotel patrons can rent custom made cycles (by Jordan Hufnagel) for a reasonable price. Needless to say, having your brand roll around the city can’t be bad for business.

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Photo Courtesy: ACE Hotel

Envisioning the Future

Whether bike shares come from large corporate ventures, or DIY small business; regardless of which method, docks or locks, are used; it is clear that with the rapid growth in Portland proper and the nation’s other cities, there is a need for accessible and affordable transportation.

 

 

 

Quick Tips

Bikes-giving! Portland donation center round-up

Photo by  Richard Masoner  CC:  License

Photo by Richard Masoner CC: License

Got an old bike languishing in the garage? Here's a quick round-up of spots in PDX to donate your old wheels/parts.


Community Cycling Center

We operate a full-service bike shop, and we love helping riders build their skills and confidence. Our programs and projects benefit underserved communities allowing kids to ride to school, adults to ride to work, and many people to ride for health and recreation.

 

BikeFarm

Bike Farm is an all volunteer-run collective dedicated to every aspect of bicycle education, from safe commuting to repair. Our mission is to provide a space where people can learn about the bicycle and build community around promoting sustainable transportation. We strive to demystify the bicycle in order to impact the city in a healthy and positive way.

 

Bikes 4 Humanity

Bikes For Humanity PDX (B4HPDX) is a local, public charity project providing affordable refurbished bicycles to riders of all economic backgrounds.