Biking Infrastructure

Bike Racks, Bikeability, Liveability, Walkability

Bike parking, plus one, plus one…

Mall CONCEPT Rendering ©James Corner Field Operations

Mall CONCEPT Rendering ©James Corner Field Operations

Huntco Arc racks on-site.

© Photo by: John Muggenborg

We’re proud to announce 86 of our stainless steel Arc bike racks are part of the Nicollet Mall revitalization in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We’re doubly proud to add that the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District have continued to install a few more Arc’s every month or so since 2016.


David Sokol of Architectural Record writes:

“Today, this downtown zone is being revitalized as a mixed-use neighborhood, and Minneapolis is again reshaping its urban fabric by implementing a redesign of the Nicollet Mall, led by the landscape architecture and urban-design firm James Corner Field Operations, with lighting by New York–based Tillotson Design Associates (TDA) and local expertise contributed by the notable Snow Kreilich Architects and landscape architect Coen+Partners.”


Read more and see images of our Arc racks here:

https://www.architecturalrecord.com/articles/14200-nicollet-mall-in-minneapolis

 

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.

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

 

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.

 

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 Sharing, Walkability

What’s French for Bollard?

We’re in France this week! Well, one of our team is anyway, spending some time with family in the friendly northern college town of Lille.

This being Huntco, what we’ve noticed about Lille, even more than the beautiful old cobblestone streets or the legendary beer (it’s only 30km from Belgium) is the bollards. Like a lot of mid-sized French cities, Lille is a great place to walk and bike, with a wonderfully rich street life — and one of the reasons why is extensive and thoughtful use of bollards, in ways that might be surprising to folks in North America.

 

The Place du Général de Gaulle is a good example. Usually just called the Grand Place (“big plaza”) by locals, this is a broad, brick-paved square fronted by bookstores, cafes, shops and a historic theater. It’s the undisputed heart of the city, frequented by thousands of people a day who come there to meet, shop, drink or just hang out. It also has a street snaking right through the middle of it, and a 422-space parking garage underneath.

So how do open up a big, public space to cars without turning your beloved Place into a parking lot? In Lille, you do it with bollards.

Using dozens of slender, elegant bollards at about 8 foot intervals, the city has demarcated a “street” that directs traffic through the plaza, while making it clear that cars are sharing the space with (far more numerous) people walking and biking. For pedestrians, the bollards just barely interfere with the flow of foot traffic, indicating where to watch out for vehicles but keeping the space permeable. 

For drivers, the message is clear: proceed to the underground parking lot, or keep moving, slowly, until you’re clear of the shared space. 

Just north of the Grand Place is another smart use of bollards along Rue Faidherbe, a short, majestic boulevard connecting the plaza to the city’s busiest train station. 

In this case, the bollards line the one-way street (with two-way bike lanes), protecting broad sidewalks full of shoppers while making it easy to cross at any point. Strategic gaps in the bollards define intersections with side streets, funneling cars in a predictable way without impeding walkers — and leaving plenty of room for the city’s cafe culture to thrive. 

Like the bollards that Huntco manufactures, these are unobtrusive enough that they become part of the urban fabric, not an interruption to it — in fact, they might even be a bit beloved. 

The city also uses different types of bollards to lend a sense of place to different areas. Here’s a different type of bollard as you head toward the are de Lille Europe — the newer train station where the Eurostar from London stops. 

You’d be hard pressed to find a city anywhere in the US that uses bollards so prolifically, or applies them so expressly toward directing cars, rather than just protecting pedestrian spaces. It’s a refreshing approach that could have some real impact in cities here, especially ones hoping to spur the kind of placemaking that’s clearly so good for business in cities like Lille. 

 

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the word bollard is French! And if Lille is any indication, France may well be the bollard’s homeland. 

 

Story and photos by Huntco team member and world traveler Carl Alviani.

 

Bike Sharing, Liveability, Bike Racks

Portland’s Turning Orange

One of the things we love about making bike racks, street furniture and other public amenities is how they can transform streetscapes, letting people know that this is a destination, not just a thruway. And one of the best examples of it just hit the streets of Portland, in the form of a new bikeshare system called “Biketown”.

The bikes and the racks that make up the Biketown system aren’t just reliable and well-designed; they’re also orange. Bright, eye-catching, unignorable orange. The bold color (and the odd name) both stem from the fact that Nike (Oregon’s most famous company) kicked in several million dollars to make it happen. And no, in case you’re wondering, it’s not pronounced “Bikey-town” -- though plenty of us call it that anyway.

Regardless of how you say it, the system’s impossible to miss. Driving through the city’s downtown or east side, chances are good that you’ll catch a glimpse of orange every minute or two, and the overall effect is powerful. Portland’s got plenty of bike infrastructure, of course, but if you’re not riding a bike, it’s easy to ignore. A 60-foot long row of bright orange fins, on the other hand, is a quietly exuberant reminder that bikes are part of what makes the city – as ordinary and indispensable as bus stops, storefronts and parking lots.

 

It’s exciting because it means that everyone who travels through the city must, sooner or later, acknowledge the existence of biking here, not as a temporary anomaly, but a permanent fixture. It’s the sort of subtle shift in perception that organized rides and awareness campaigns try to engineer, but rarely succeed at. A similar shift happened when NYC’s Citibike program launched, helping to shepherd along a citywide embrace of bikes, bike lanes and bike commuting that eventually earned it the title of Best Cycling City in the US.

Now, Huntco didn’t make these racks, but we love them just the same. They’re elegant, they’re sturdy, they look great. And more important, they make the city better for everyone.

 

Liveability, Bike Racks, Bike Rooms

Bike Room of the Month: The Emery

The Emery, a 7-story apartment building in Portland’s rapidly growing South Waterfront neighborhood, wears its eco credentials on its sleeve. A tight cluster of high-efficiency apartments, located next to a streetcar, light rail and aerial tram station and a major bike route, the Emery is actively marketed toward young professional singles and couples interested in active transportation and low-car living. For a building like this, a great bike facility is a necessity, not an amenity.

 

·        1061 Square Feet, with plenty of circulating room

·        160 Wall-mounted Stirrup Racks, black powder coat finish

·        Keycard Access and 24/7 security camera monitoring


An additional 20 Stirrup Racks are mounted in a publicly accessible hallway next to the bike room, providing covered parking for visitors and employees of the restaurants on the Emery’s ground floor. In smart, modern buildings like the Emery, every bike gets a civilized place to park.

 

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IMAGES VIA www.theemerypdx.com

 

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.

 

 

Liveability

Laying the groundwork for walkable neighborhoods.

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Image: Doug Geisler CC 2.0 Lic

Is your neighborhood walkable? Is it walkable enough?

According to some recent articles, walkability is now the single most desirable trait for house hunters in US cities, and it only seems to be getting more desirable.

 

This shouldn’t be all that surprising. After all, Millennials are now the largest generation in the country, they’re heading into their settling-down years, and they’re famously less interested in driving than previous generations. On top of that, you have millions of aging Boomers looking to downsize, often in places where they won’t have to spend as much time in their cars. This doesn’t have to mean a city–lots of suburbs are getting more pedestrian-friendly–but it does mean distances short enough to make walking a viable alternative to driving.

 

But it also means infrastructure: sidewalks, shade trees, street-oriented storefronts, and--you guessed it–site furnishings. Installing benches, tables, bollards and bike parking doesn’t automatically make a block a walker’s paradise, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a walkable neighborhood without them. Besides giving you a place to rest your bones after a long stroll, street furniture also sends a powerful message: that people are supposed to be here, that walking is a viable form of transport.

 

This may be why so many of our site furnishings projects over the last few years have been part of placemaking initiatives. As cities around the country double down on their established neighborhoods, they often look to site furnishings as a way to kick-off the reinvestment process, in a pragmatic and highly visible way. Huntco has been fortunate to be a part of several of them, often with great results:

 

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Backless Willamette benches at the Northwest Atlanta library in Georgia.

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Sol racks, zebra crosswalks and and 6" bollards invite cyclists and protect pedestrians at New Seasons market at 33rd and Broadway, Portland, Oregon.

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Cascade locks artist-designed bike racks.

A really nice writeup in the local paper about these: Bike Friendly in Cascade Locks

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Santiem benches at Daimler on Swan Island, Portland, Oregon.

Bike Racks, Custom Work

What can you do with a customized rack?

In progress, At the shop


We’ve been making customized bike racks and site-specific furnishings for years, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve fabricated cats.  

 

The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon (FCCO) in Portland is a great volunteer-based, veterinarian-founded organization that takes in thousands of stray cats every year from around the region for spaying or neutering, all at no charge. They’d originally wanted a couple of standard Sol bike racks for their their new building, but realized during planning that it was also an opportunity to get their message out to the neighborhood in a friendly, playful way. So this is what they had us build instead: 

Install in progress at the new FCCO building


The racks (which work just like a typical Sol rack) are instantly recognizable as cat faces, but with a unique detail: the flat-topped ear on one side is what’s called an “ear tip”, and it’s a standard indication that a stray has already been spayed or neutered. So in a way, the racks help spread the word about spaying and neutering without saying a word. 

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Because we do all of our fabrication here in the US, Huntco is able take on all kinds of custom orders, often on short notice and based on simple, straightforward descriptions from the client or architect.


Besides being a lot of fun for us — who wouldn’t want to fabricate an enormous cat face out of powder-coated steel? — they also add unmistakable character to the streetscape, and help organizations announce themselves in a way that’s a lot more approachable and distinctive than another sign or billboard.


This project was in Portland, but people are looking for secure, functional bike parking in cities all over the US. Here’s hoping more of it has a face that makes you smile.

See more examples of custom bike rack and site furnishings here.


 

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.