Those interesting bike racks at Portland’s newest park

Those interesting bike racks at Portland’s newest park

Bike parking at The Fields park-2

Believe it or not, those are bike racks!
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday I finally got a chance to visit The Fields, Portland’s newest neighborhood park. Situated on NW Overton between 10th and 11th at the northern end of the Pearl District, The Fields is a beautiful addition to our city. It’s got fantastic views of old industrial areas, a panorama of the Fremont Bridge, and lots of green grass to lay and play on. Whenever Portland opens a new public space, I’m always interested to see how they deal with bicycle access. In the case of The Fields, they’ve created a nice area for bicycle parking; but it took me a while to 1) realize it was there and 2) figure out how to use it.

When I first rolled up to the park with my family and our four bikes, we locked up in front of the adjacent Encore condos (see background of photos below). It wasn’t until I walked into the park near the play area that I noticed six strange poles sticking up out of the ground. Are these bike racks? I wondered. A few seconds later I realized that, yes indeed, they are (the bike symbol on the side, though hard to see, confirmed that for me). I hadn’t seen anything like them before. Just a square pole with a slit in the middle.

Bike parking at The Fields park-3

Bike parking at The Fields park-1

The square edge didn’t seem very u-lock or bike frame friendly so at first I assumed front wheels were meant to go into the hole. Before we left, I moved our bikes over to the new racks to try them out. I had my wife Juli lift her wheel into the hole…

Bike parking at The Fields park-5

That didn’t work. Next I tried to lean our bikes against the flat poles and figure out a way to get a u-lock through the hole and the bike’s frame. After some puzzling, I figured it out! The u-lock slid into the hole and around the frame quite nicely once I found the right angle…

Bike parking at The Fields park-9

Bike parking at The Fields park-7

Bike parking at The Fields park-10

When I got home I found the website for maker of these racks — Forms + Surfaces — and confirmed the locking method. Maybe it was just me; but sometimes I like things that are simple and standardized. While I appreciate the design and aesthetics of these racks, I’m partial to the regular old City-issued staple racks.

In the end, these odd racks did nothing to diminish my opinion of The Fields. It’s a stellar new destination and they get major props for putting bike parking right near the front of the main play area. Have any of you used these racks yet? I’d be curious to hear what you think…

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