How Portland’s oldest Buddhist temple got better bike parking

How Portland’s oldest Buddhist temple got better bike parking

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Charles Reneau and the bike parking area he made happen.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Making a place more welcoming to bicycle riders often starts with parking. It’s a basic need for all vehicle users. In the central city you can usually find a staple rack or something else to lock up to; but head out into Portland’s neighborhoods, beyond the main commercial districts, and it’s another story.

Take the Oregon Buddhist Temple for example. Since their attractive building on Southeast 34th just south of Powell Boulevard opened in 1966, members have had no place to park a bicycle. That fact bothered temple member Charles Reneau, so when he got a seat on the board he decided to do something about.

“It’s one more little thing that welcomes them to our temple.”
— Charles Reneau, Oregon Buddhist Temple

I met Reneau outside the temple on Monday. He’s been a member since 2008. “I just live about four or five blocks from here,” he said, as we looked out over the large surface parking lot adjacent to the temple. “So of course I ride my bike.” Unfortunately though, since there are no city-supplied staple racks on the sidewalk out front (the city said it’s too narrow) and it’s not polite to lock to the decorative railings, Reneau would lock up to a gas line pole on the other side of the lot. “I ride every week, so when I got on the board I realized I needed to make this happen”.

The “this” Reneau referred to was a bike parking area.

About a year ago he brought the idea to the temple’s board. None of them rode bikes so they’d never event thought about before. Even so, they were supportive — as long as Reneau promised to lead the charge. And he did.

To Reneau, a lack of bike parking was more than just a personal inconvenience. “I thought, this was an amenity we needed to provide to show we’re engaged with the community not just symbolically, but physically as well.” He went to work with a few other volunteers, one of whom was a contractor. The project began back in August.

They scoped out a space along the side wall of the temple. One of the board members felt it should be behind the building, but Reneau knew better. From reading BikePortland he’d learned that bike parking must be obvious and visible for people who want to use it and for those who it might inspire. The space was bare dirt so they had to dig down a bit and clear out a pad that’s about seven feet deep by twenty feet wide. They poured concrete and bolted in three staple racks (purchased from Portland-based Huntco).

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The racks are well-spaced and provide plenty of breathing room for unloading kids or cargo. They left extra room in case they want to add more staples in the future.

The project only took a few days to complete and it “wasn’t that hard.” Reneau said the total cost was about $2,000 for everything including the concrete, rebar and the racks.

Reneau is proud of his bike parking. He thinks it strengthens the temple’s “sangha” or community. “When someone stops to take a look and sees that we have parking for bicycles, it’s one more little thing that welcomes them to our temple.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

Our coverage of bike parking is sponsored by Huntco. If you have a story idea, or would like us to visit the bike parking at your business, please get in touch.

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