Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Good Problem to Have

One of the many down sides of having a car is the parking hassle. The other day I had to go pick somebody up at the doctor, and yes, I drove my car. There are certain ordeals after which one is in no mood for public transportation and a bicycle isn’t feasible – not even the back of a bicycle. I have yet to find a good adult-bearing seat for the back, but it’s just as well, for had I shown up with even the most fabulous seat on the back of my bike, my reception would have been a few degrees lower than lukewarm.

Around and around I drove, up and down the spiral of the four-storey parking structure, trying to find a spot, using up as much gas as I had used to drive over there, crawling along in a snail procession of other cars and filling the whole space with car exhaust which from there billowed out into the environment. The car thing just looks stupider and stupider.

Strangely, I’ve been having a similar problem on my bike. Similar, but oh so different. Namely, I’ve been having an increasingly hard time finding a place to park my bike!

Do you realize what this means? It means more and more people are biking, which is spectacular. However (thanks to a few rotten apples who have to make everything more complicated for everyone), if you don’t lock you r bike to something, it’ll be gone when you get back. So this small matter of bike racks is of crucial importance to the success of biking in Portland. Often I find bike racks already fully occupied, or a complete lack of bike racks, and sometimes it’s hard to find even a signpost or a pipe available.

So here’s the good news: The city has one whole human being on this task specifically – that is, the task of determining where bike racks are needed. Her name is Gudrin Free, and once she determines a need for a rack, she sends a team of gorillas out to install one. All you have to do is call her. But don’t ask for a rack in front of your home unless there are businesses on your street. The city won’t install racks in a strictly residential area; the property owner has to do it.

I had a conversation with her a while ago about some rack-less areas I’d encountered, and she was very receptive. Sounds like a woman who loves what she’s doing. I told her I’d put the word out on my blog. Here’s her phone number: 503-823-6841.


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