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Portland has upgraded 163 car parking spaces to create 1,644 bike spots

Portland Now Has 100 Street Bike Corrals! from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

The City of Portland has hit a milestone: 100 bike corrals installed, and as many businesses are still clamoring for one near them.

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Bike Portland presents the number like this: The city replaced 163 car parking spaces with 1,644 bike parking spaces. That seems like a hell of a trade, and the city’s businesses appear to understand this well. From Bike Portland:

While these days it’s hard to keep up with bike corral installations, the program got off to a slow start back in 2004. The first ever location was on North Shaver at Mississippi in front of Fresh Pot. After that one went in, it took over two years for PBOT to install another one. The delay was caused because PBOT couldn’t settle on a design they were comfortable with replicating all over the city.

However, once the design became finalized, PBOT has struggled to keep up with demand. From 2004 to 2009, PBOT had installed just 20 bike corrals. Now they’ve done 80 in the past four years and there are currently another 98 bike corral applications under review. What accounts for the big backlog? As we reported in 2011, PBOT handles each request on a case-by-case basis and not everyone location gets the OK.

Yes, there is demand for more bike parking in Seattle (taken during Capitol Hill Block Party 2012)
Yes, there is demand for more bike parking in Seattle (taken during Capitol Hill Block Party 2012)
Seattle, on the other hand, has been comparatively sluggish at installing the corrals. Last we checked, there were ten corrals in the city. We know of at least one more added since (Peddler Brewing), so that makes 11.

Here’s a comparison of Seattle vs Portland bike corral maps (big thanks to Madi at FamilyRide for maintaining the Seattle map!):

View Seattle Bike Corrals in a larger map

View City of Portland On-Street Bicycle Parking Corrals in a larger map

We have a whole lot of catching up to do!

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22 responses to “Portland has upgraded 163 car parking spaces to create 1,644 bike spots”

  1. Andrew Squirrel

    While I have definitely enjoyed the corrals in Seattle I’ve been thinking more and more about how absurd it is that we waste our precious limited resource of paved city streets on parked motor vehicles & bicycles. I honestly feel as if this is the silver bullet that could improve transportation for bicycles, cars and public transit. Using a high quality paved street for moving, what a novel idea!

    – Increased capacity (duh)
    – Visibility improves making pedestrian spotting easier, turns less blind and entering/exiting driveways easier.
    – Less sharing of facilities so each mode can move at an appropriate speed.
    – A stopped vehicle of any type can now be an announcement that there is a stop light or issue ahead (instead of yet another parked car or bike corral that blends into the background noise)
    – Cleaner streets because street cleaners have full access to every nook an cranny. (=less flats for us!)

    Although this seems impossible I feel bike corrals really lock in the idea that its totally cool to leave your crap on something that was originally designed for movement.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Different solutions needed for different streets. And bike corrals can be moved if the city decides to redesign the street.

      Bike corrals actually improve visibility when installed on the corner. This happens for two reasons: 1. They are easier to see through and over than a car and 2. They make sure nobody illegally parks too close to the corner (which is common).

      As for using the space for movement, many of our streets actually have too much capacity, which leads to speeding and makes it more difficult to cross in foot. Of course, my favorite way to fix this is with quality bike lanes, as you suggest. But some of our streets are so wide that this is not enough. Parking is a way to further reduce the effective road width.

      The new Broadway is a good example of this. I don’t think the street would be as comfortable for walking if the space used for parking were another travel lane instead. Plus, there do need to be places for deliveries, etc.

      Basically, on most commercial streets, I would get rid of extra travel lanes before parking.

    2. biliruben

      Two words for eliminating street parking: Robot Cars.

      Not sure I’d like robot bikes.

  2. Andrew Squirrel

    Also forgot to mention getting doored would virtually be eliminated.

  3. Allan

    This is a typical representation of how far Portland is ahead of Seattle. I consider it to be 1000% better and in this case there are 10 times as many bike corrals. It feels 1000% better to bike in Portland, although most of my riding there has been on the East side of the city, so I don’t know all of it. The drivers seem 1000% more careful of cyclists. There are more and better cycle lanes and you can go long distances without exposure to fast and frightening traffic. Seattle just feels like it is becomming more dangerous on the roads, not less. It is a major struggle just to stay even with the deterioration of roads, driving conditions, and road raging drivers. Riding gets a little safer in one place and more dangerous in another. The biggest improvement available for riding the streets of Seattle is just the availability of better lights if we can get people to buy them. I think most cyclists that are hit were never seen.

    1. Charles B

      Portland is also significantly flatter than Seattle, so it takes a lot less coaxing to get people to try cycling there.

      1. Gene Balk

        Don’t see how that has anything to do with installing bike corrals.

        We need a lot more bike parking in Seattle. Is there a reason we don’t have more?

      2. daihard

        Agreed, though it is probably off-topic. All the routes I take here (in Seattle) involve some hills. I’d love to ride a long flat road like El Camino in the Bay Area. I just don’t see any of that here, and I can totally see how the hills can discourage a lot of potential cyclists.

      3. Allan

        I am 65 years old and 230 lbs at the moment and I go up any hill I want to. However, I am a pretty good mechanic and I know how to trick out a bike for hilly places. Well, it really isn’t that hard, you just put a mountain triple on a road or cross bike and you can spin right up the hills with the 22 small cog. I usually change the large ring to a 46 but a 44 x 11 tooth is ok. I don’t know why the manufacturers and bike shops don’t push that kind of option. In the summer when I get in shape I zip right up Highland Park Way, on the sidewalk for safety.

    2. Matthew

      I agree. I found it a bit depressing to see how much better the infrastructure is in Portland, and not just bike corrals.

      1. Gary


        Well Seattle has had better growth in jobs. Mostly through the good fortune to have snagged Microsoft, and Amazon both of which spin out trained software people who have started up other companies… Expedia, et.al.

        I’ve always liked the scale of the buildings in downtown Portland too. They don’t seem to dominate the street as much. Seems more people friendly.

  4. Teri

    When there is “ok” (or even inconvenient) bike parking at a business, I might still go there occasionally. When there is stellar bike parking, I am way more likely to spend my money there, not just because it’s easier to lock up, but because I know the business is making a conscience effort to encourage cycling. This is especially true of taverns or other places where there is alcohol (not that I support drunken bicycling either…). Bring on the corrals!

    1. daihard

      Agreed. These days one of the criteria I use in choosing a place to shop / eat is whether there’s a bike rack nearby. Seattle is a lot better than the surrounding cities like Lynnwood, Edmonds and Woodinville (AFAICT), but it’s obviously still lagging behind compared to Portland.

  5. asdf2

    I was just in Capitol Hill the other day and had to squeeze my bike onto an already-too-crowded rack. They could really use some bike corrals there. Same with downtown.

    1. Gary

      I like those open racks that Portland used in those videos, vs the “steel box” which can only be entered from the sidewalk side.

      The city should make it easier & faster for a business to request that bike corral be installed to replace the parking spot in front of a shop. That way we’d have a good indication of whether these are “cost effective” for the businesses. How hard is it to bolt a few of these racks in place. We don’t have to jack out the meters since they’ve gone to the block based meter machines. Just get the two adjecent business to agree and … you are done.

  6. Matthew Snyder

    In my mind, the major advantage of corrals is that they get bike parking off of our already-crowded sidewalks and into the areas we’ve designated for vehicle parking. Too many of our busy commercial corridors have pedestrian ROWs that are already too narrow — and with the growth of cycling, which carries with it a need for more bike parking, we’re going to need to think beyond just adding more bike racks to sidewalks. Hopefully, if bike share does actually roll out in Seattle, we’ll put the lion’s share of the docking stations on the street and not on the sidewalk, and add public bike parking along with them.

    There are a few absolutely no-brainer areas for Portland-style bike corrals: several spots in Capitol Hill, the Ave in the U-District, Ballard Ave, the Georgetown strip… certainly others I’m leaving off. Personally I find the Portland-style ones to be a much better design than the one-piece metal boxy design we’ve adopted here thus far.

    1. RTK

      Well said.

  7. Cmonster

    I support the idea of more bike parking and of bike corrals to be sure, but is using a picture of a full corral at the block party really the way to send that message? Of course it’s full, it’s at a street festival in the densest part of the city with the highest per capita bike ridership. Shots of the over crowded bike racks downtown or even on the hill etc might make the point stronger with less opportunity for bike haters to poke holes in the evidence that we do need more corrals.

    1. Eric in Seattle

      Even a corral with one bike in it uses the space as efficiently as a space with one car in it (one space, one vehicle). A bike corral with two or three bikes in it is that much more efficient than the same space with one car in it. The photo shows 25 or 30 bikes in two spaces, with four cars in the next four spaces. Even if each of those cars had 5 people in them (unlikely), they are still taking up four spaces for 20 people. I think that’s a great example of how the corrals work to improve parking availability. Bonus is that the sidewalks are not clogged with bikes, making the street useable for pedestrians (which of course includes all the folks who try to get to a business on the street, whether they traveled by bike, car, or transit).

      1. Cmonster

        I agree completely. My point was that the image is part of Tom’s effort to make the point that there is demand for more corrals in Seattle I don’t think his point is as strongly made when he uses a picture of lots of bikes all parked together during block party. It’s splitting hairs, I’ll admit, but since we’re trying to make the case for something that is viewed with deep skepticism by the powers that be in this city, I think it’s important that we make our message as bullet proof as possible.

        Looking at this image, I could see an anti-bike advocate say something like, “sure Theres Lots of bikes in that corral. But it’s at the block party. But in day to day life we don’t need to waste money and parking spots on such a thing. Not enough people ride bikes here to warrant them.”

        But a shot of a full corral on a Thursday afternoon, or a crowded sidewalk with many bikes chained to trees, poles and whatnot makes the point that we need more corrals crystal clear.

        How the message is delivered is very important when trying to win hearts and minds.

      2. Gary

        “Winning hearts and minds”

        Key is not the suburban whiner who posts to the Seattle Times. It’s the business owner right in front of the bike corral that mattes the most. They are the one’s with the most to win/lose over that parking spot. If they percieve that bicyclists are not using their business and auto drivers aren’t coming, they will be down at the council meetings until that bike corral is gone. Same for having one, if it works for them, and it’s easy to get one, they’ll ask for it.

        Mostly what I want is for parking on Pike and Pine to be removed durning rush hour from 1st Ave all the way to Boran and possibly Broadway.

  8. […] courtesy of Streetsblog. I also saw the Seattle Bike Blog entry “Portland has upgraded 163 car parking spaces to create 1,644 bike spots” on the news and gotta say, that headline really points out what kind of boost to business a […]

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