After some of its would-be customers let Target know that bike parking isn’t optional among big downtown Portland retailers, the new CityTarget is likely to get some sidewalk bike parking of its own — a bit late.
“I’m meeting with Target on Monday to go put more bike parking in,” Portland Bureau of Transportation bike parking coordinator Scott Cohen said Tuesday. “I’m going to ask them what they think they need.”
Cohen said he expected that it’d be easy to install several more bike staples near Target’s entrance.
As we wrote last week, the discount retailer and pharmacy was courted by city leaders as a new retail anchor for downtown’s west-end “Pioneer District” and launched with a fixie-focused marketing campaign. Then it opened with what was, for a major retailer in its area, an odd lack of on-site bike parking.
Cohen said this was due to a miscommunication in the city offices. Ordinarily, he said, the city would have tapped its bike parking fund, which is paid for by developers such as Target’s landlords at the Galleria, to install parking based loosely on Target’s retail square footage — probably a handful of new sidewalk staples, Cohen said.
“Nobody came around and said ‘We need bike parking,'” Cohen said. “Target never came to us. The planner never came around and said, ‘Here’s the bike parking situation.’ We never went to the planner and target and said, ‘What’s happening with bike parking?’ … The communication chain did not work, but the code did work, and the result will be the same. It’s just not going to be happening right as Target opens.”
Also, Target is making short-run plans to direct shoppers to their building’s hard-to-find underground bike parking. Target spokeswoman Erika Winkels wrote Tuesday that “window clings will be put up this week directing guests to bike parking available in the ramp and how to access it. At Target, we want all our guests to have a great experience in our stores, and we hope this will help guests arriving on bikes know where they can go to store their bikes.”
“If it’s 150 feet away, it’s just too far. That’s the way bike behavior works..”
— Scott Cohen, PBOT
Cohen said the reason for the city’s oversight was that he and his PBOT colleague Sarah Figliozzi typically take it on themselves to look up whether a developer has opted to provide
indoor its own bike parking or, alternatively, to pay into the bike parking fund. In the case of Target, the city’s planner, who works in a different city bureau, determined that the retailer was off the hook for this requirement because its landlords had paid into the bike parking fund during a major 2006 remodel. Because Target hadn’t paid into the fund, Cohen and Figliozzi incorrectly assumed that the retailer was providing indoor parking and that they didn’t have to worry about it.
Cohen said he and Figliozzi will be talking to their colleagues in Portland’s Bureau of Development Services and Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to figure out “how we can be looped in so that we can be sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen.”
“This works 99 percent of the time,” he said.
As for the signs directing Target customers to park their bikes around the block in an underground garage, Cohen said it “never hurts to tell people where there’s more bike parking” but predicted that few people will walk down the ramp and back to use the racks.
“If it’s 150 feet away, it’s just too far,” Cohen said. “That’s the way bike behavior works.”