Eight Fewer Cars = 74 More Bikes

This just had to happen:  Portland’s TriMet has removed eight parking spaces from the Park-and-Ride at its Sunset Transit Center light rail station, and replaced them with secure space for 74 bikes.  From the Oregonian coverage:

Look at it this way: There are now 74 parking spaces where there was [sic] once just eight — as long as you’re riding a bike to link up with light rail or a bus.

“That’s potentially 74 cars that won’t be using the park and ride,” said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “It’s 74 people who aren’t in traffic, who aren’t putting carbon into the atmosphere, and who are exercising.”

Sunset Transit Center (“Sunset TC” on this map) has always been a strategic location for access to the Blue and Red light rail lines.  It’s the first station beyond the major barrier of the West Hills, so for areas to the west it’s the only place to go for a fast light rail trip into the city.  The light rail line also turns south at this point, so the entire area north and west of it needs to feed to this station, by bus, car, and bike.


Because of this strategic geographic position, this station will always be one of TriMet’s busiest for access by all those modes.

People who park there are currently paying in time and inconvenience rather than money.  The parking often fills up, leaving angry motorists looking for a space.

But Lisa McAdams of Hillsboro said losing parking spaces to a bike and ride isn’t fair to people trying to take public transit instead of driving into Portland. “I’m sure a lot of people are ticked,” she said.

After five minutes of searching inside the Sunset garage Thursday afternoon, McAdams was about to give up and drive her Honda CR-V downtown when someone backed out of a space.

Yes, Lisa, you’ll often be circling the garage as long as the parking there is cheap or free.  It’s that old law of supply and demand.  Meanwhile, you have eight fewer chances to park, but there are 74 more chances for human beings to get on light rail, and get where they’re going.  Looks like an easy call.

20 Responses to Eight Fewer Cars = 74 More Bikes

  1. Allan July 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Nice point about free parking being quite irritating.

  2. Cascadian July 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    Even with free parking, she found a spot in five minutes. Why motorists feel entitled to an instant spot three feet from their destination for free I’ll never understand.
    Parking in a popular location means you pay in time, money, or convenience, like anyone else. Assuming that those 74 bike spaces will be used–and that seems likely in this location–this change is a net benefit to Portlanders.

  3. ambrown July 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    This is a slightly edited comment I left on bikeportland about this new facility, i hope you don’t mind me reposting it:
    I think the biggest question is less about the facilities and pricing themselves (seems like a great idea to me!) but rather the location. Sunset TC is located on top of a rather large hill, farther than a quarter to half a mile from the area’s suburban residential development, and is pretty difficult to access without biking on some major roads with lots of fast-flying SUVs.
    Someday, Metro and whoever owns those fields around it will make a killing on some excellent Transit Oriented Development near a major light rail station that’s literally two stops/ten minutes away from downtown Portland while being away from the city’s taxes and near whatever else compels people to live in Beaverton.
    I guess I’m digressing from the original topic; I just want to say that while I applaud these efforts, and perhaps they know what they’re doing a lot more than an armchair urban planner such as myself, I’d imagine that investing in these facilities at Beaverton TC, Gateway, Hollywood or anywhere on Interstate (where the concern for crime, I hate to admit, is higher) might reap higher returns.
    The movement to reframe Sunset TC and others from “park and ride” to “bike and ride” is a fantastic idea, one that really holds a lot of promise for modeshare. I remember seeing a map of the greater DC area, superimposed by the Metro stations in suburban Maryland and Virgina with one and two mile buffers around the stops; it covered a surprisingly large part of the region that otherwise was driving to use the metro into the city. Those $100m investments in transit could be so much more effective at reducing modeshift with $1m investments retrofitting the Sunset Transit Centers of the world with these sort of facilities. As transit lines get built as spokes from downtown “hub” areas to suburbs (the general trend in cities across much of the country) spending that extra marginal investment in cyclepaths, bike lanes and traffic calming is crucial.
    The question to me then becomes, who will fight for these suburban bike and rides? Out here in the Twin Cities, even convincing nearby St Paul to link bike routes to Minneapolis’ facilities have been excruciatingly difficult, and its only tougher for activists to stand up against suburban municipalities’ plans for an autocentric transportation system. You’ve previously highlighted some of the people working to make Beaverton and other areas more bike-friendly, but as someone who grew up outside of Portland, I can assure you that getting some of those cars off of the streets in downtown Portland will require finding ways to fix the gaps in biking and transit that exist beyond the control of Sam and PBOT.

  4. Chris B July 30, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    I think even more significant is this move by Toronto:
    I have long wondered why cities with “bay” style parking do not take away one out of every 20 spots for a bike corral.

  5. G-Man (Type-E) July 30, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    “Why motorists feel entitled to an instant spot three feet from their destination for free I’ll never understand”
    I think people feel entitled to a space because that’s the condition they are used to. Drivers approach a trip as if they are going from A to B, and don’t think that they need to consider B1, B2 or B3 depending… City drivers are probably more savvy and understanding of parking issues than suburban drivers, but it’s the latter generally using park and rides. Two other things that may play on people psychologically – 1) They have not left adequate time in thier journey to circle around looking for parking. If your train is coming and you have a meeting to get to, you need to ditch the car and go. Frequency may alleviate some of that concern. Perhaps when we see people parking illegally and taking the ticket willingly, we could infer that the market can bear some cost for parking – and apply that cost to manage demand and generate revenue. 2) in a time constrained situation especially, the car that supposedly represents ‘freedom’ becomes a giant liability – a no longer useful hunk of metal with no where to stash it, essentially trapping its’ occupant until a space becomes available.
    A lot of bicyclists become similarly indignant when they need to tie up to a tree or some other random fixed object, though I think there may be justification since this is based less on convenience and more on concern for the security of the bicycle. The percentage of bicyclists that have had a bike or components stolen is very high. That’s why bike lockers are so much better than racks for an all-day situation like a park and ride.
    Jarrett, Thank you for a good presentation / discussion last night in Seattle. I really enjoyed it!

  6. John July 30, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    I like the cheap pre-paid key-card access feature to the bike cage. This appears to be provided by a third party.

  7. Colin Maher July 30, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Sunset TC is the first of an eventual regional system of bike-transit facilities. The Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) coordinates planning for both bicycle and transit infrastructure, including bike-transit facilities: http://library.oregonmetro.gov/files//2035_rtp_final_document_as_submitted_to_dlcd_usdot_web.pdf (45MB, see map on p. 2-39)
    TriMet is also building Bike & Rides at the Beaverton and Gresham Central transit centers this year.
    More info on how Bike & Ride works at: http://www.trimet.org/bikeandride
    Colin Maher

  8. Colin Maher July 30, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    Reposting the link to TriMet’s website:

  9. Jeff Wegerson July 30, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    I suppose that it’s possible that eight of those possible 74 cyclists would have brought their car and used up the eight spaces anyway.

  10. Stephen Smith July 30, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

    Totally not worth the [sic]. There was + plural is standard nowadays.

  11. Angus July 30, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    @Stephen – yes, but the writer has used “There are…” in the preceding parallel phrase so it’s a question of consistency.
    @Jarrett – I agree wholeheartedly that bike lockers at stations are a good thing but it’s not really a straight 8-for-74 swap – some of those 74 spots will be taken by cyclists who would otherwise (a) chain their bikes up somewhere else; (b) take their bikes on the vehicle with them (if that’s allowed); (c) walk to the station instead of riding (probably in greater numbers than car drivers would), or (d) ride their entire journey (which is obviously preferable to driving it).

  12. ambrown July 31, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    @angus I can promise you, option (c) or (d) that you present do not correspond to reality. While it is true that people can take bikes aboard the MAX (option (b) that you provide), the station is pretty far from any residential or other destination from which people would walk, especially considering the nasty large arterials people would have to traverse to get to the station. and considering that the next MAX station in either direction is quite far away, involves a significant change in elevation and has no even moderately easy bike route between the destinations, hardly anyone would instead bike between Sunset TC and the Washington Park or Beaverton TC stations. Look it up on Google Satellite if you don’t believe me, it’s hardly a collection of livable streets.

  13. teme July 31, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Nine bikes in a single parking space seems low to me, especially as they are stacked vertically.

  14. Jarrett,
    Great article. It resonates well with a secure bike parking program at railway stations that I manage in Melbourne called Parkiteer (www.bv.com.au/bike-parking/43422/). With projects like these that integrate transit and cycling, they need to be ‘sold’ as meaningful projects on two levels: to planners and decision makers in the operators and government (i.e. bike parking is a meaningful way to deal with congestion on transit from bikes onboard – especially in the peaks) and with cyclists and advocacy groups (i.e. this is legitimising transit and cycling as a sustainable form of transport and is not a tokenistic effort to appease a noisy minority of cyclists). Both these battles were fought in Melbourne in order to get the first cage in during late 2008. Once that battle was one, the other 44 have rolled out fairly smoothly.
    It’s been running for 18 months now and with cages now deployed at 45 locations on the metropolitan and regional rail networks. In many locations, 3-4 car parking spaces in the station precinct close to the station entrance were taken to land a cage. The Parkiteer project has had some demonstrable effects on the usage of bikes and their interaction with the heavy rail network in Melbourne.
    To deal with some of Angus’ comments by option, a survey of over 1200 existing Parkiteer users found that 32% of respondents already rode to the station, it has dealt with some Option A cyclists who previously rode to the station (32% of respondents).
    As a ‘congestion busting’ measure of removing bikes from onboard trains by providing secure parking (Option B), there has been some demonstrated success especially at peak times. The carriage of bikes on trains in the AM and PM peaks and during the interpeaks have either dropped or remained static (at a time when train patronage has continued to grow at about 6% per annum).
    Importantly and contrary to some perceived wisdom, Parkiteer has not cannibalised feeder bus (5%) or walking (14%) as an access mode to the stations (an extrapolation of the Option C scenario) – relatively small numbers when compared to the 42% of former car users (either drivers or passengers) who now use Parkiteer. We don’t yet know how many riders who once rode all the way have been intercepted to become ‘bike and ride’ customers by Parkiteer (Option D) however.
    @ Jeff Wegerson, it will only take 7-8 ex-motorists to use the bike cage regularly to have ‘broken even’ in terms of space and the more bikes parked there, the better the return on investment is. Being able to prove to decision makers that secure bike parking increases the ‘density’ of parking at transit stops makes landing the next cage (or cages) easier.
    @ Colin Maher – TriMet has rightly hit the need for providing secure bike parking at both ends of the transit journey. This is something we’re still trying to address in Melbourne, especially at our CBD stations and stations near major activity generators.

  15. M1EK August 2, 2010 at 7:14 am #

    Two scenarios here, very different results:
    1. If the new train rider was a bike rider before,
    “we”‘re not any better off.
    2. If the new train rider was a driver before, “we”‘re a lot better off.
    This is coming from a bike advocate, by the way.
    The contention that suburbanites will switch from driving to the station to biking to the station is ludicrous in most places. Those who would bike were probably already biking, given the difficulty (currently) in getting parking.
    Better solution by far is to just start charging for the spaces.

  16. Joe R. August 2, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    I don’t think anyone’s pointed out that the upset driver looking for a park-and-ride space lives in Hillsboro and had ample opportunity to find a parking space at several of the other park-and-rides closer to her origin, including downtown Hillsboro, Orenco, Hillsboro airport, Quatama, and Willow Creek – none of which are as full as Sunset TC. Seems like a hollow complaint.

  17. EngineerScotty August 2, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    Sounds to me like the P&R user in question is mainly interested in avoiding parking charges downtown, and is using MAX as a parking shuttle. Sunset TC is the closest Westside park-and-ride to downtown, so she’s driving as far as she can from her house before hopping on the train.

  18. Loose Shunter August 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    @M1EK – three more scenarios with existing users this time:
    3. If the existing train user formerly drove to the station – “we’re” better off
    4. If the existing train user formerly rode all the way to their destination, but now uses transit – “we’re” better off
    5. If the existing train user formerly took their bike with them on the train/light rail/BRT -“we’re” better off
    The decisions on using which mode to reach the transit station are not ‘either/or’ decisions. There are a variety of factors (in Australia at least) linked to ‘on system’ factors such as service levels of feeder modes and personal and vehicle security at stations, along with ‘off system’ factors such as gender, household incomes, perceptions of health and physical activity, petrol prices, levels of car ownership and interest rates/mortgage payments.

  19. Zoltán August 2, 2010 at 7:34 pm #

    “Why motorists feel entitled to an instant spot three feet from their destination for free I’ll never understand.”
    And neither will I, and there are few things more frustrating than trying to persuade people that there is a bigger picture. I have sometimes taken complaining residents of my hometown to a point overlooking the medieval town centre, and asked them to point out exactly which spot they would like to tarmac.

  20. Ted King August 3, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    The link below is to an article that describes a planned apartment complex next to a bus terminus* in San Francisco. The article notes minimal off-street parking for the apartments, some bike spaces, and reliance on nearby public transit (5-7 spaces + 36 bikes vs. 5 lines** + BART nearby).
    P.S. This project, if built, would tie in with SFMTA’s Transit Preferential Streets program. The link below is to a page that is muddled and seems both dated and underdone.
    *This terminus (#8X, #49) also has other lines (#29, #43, “K”) passing by and has a major destination (CCSF) just across Phelan. The Balboa Park BART station is just a few blocks away.
    **There’s a nearby hump that provides a terrain barrier that in effect hides the #54 line. The lines above are out in front – or to the side – of the building. Two other lines (“J”, “M”) are in the walkshed but are also hidden to a degree from casual riders.
    NB – Re : walkshed –