Bikes and Portland; the two go hand-in-hand. Bicycling is a critical part of our infrastructure, and the preferred method form of commuting for students, professionals, artists, and everyone in between. Portland State recently moved from 'silver' to 'gold' in the Bicycle Friendly University ratings from the League of American Bicyclists, just one of the many contributors to PSU's Climate Leadership Award announced on June 5, 2013.
So, with all of those bicycles that we use to get around, where do we put them? When Portland State University sought the answer to this question, Casey Rice, ‘ 94, had a solution.
Casey was born and raised in Portland, and in spite of travels elsewhere he hasn’t been able to stay away for long. He experienced a stint in snowy Colorado, studied music in Eugene, and tried Berklee College of Music in Boston for a few years. But he realized that music was a passion for him, not a profession, and returned to Portland to enroll in PSU for a general studies degree.
Classes in sociology, psychology, and philosophy provided an awakening for Casey, and the school quickly became a home for him. He remembers the days fondly: “It was one of the first times I had been exposed to open group discussions about many different topics, and that really got me thinking for myself.”
Without scholarship support, Casey turned to the skills that originally had led him to leave Portland: his musicianship. He taught guitar lessons to help pay for school, and like many students also turned to family for help. Their commitment to Casey and belief in PSU allowed him to complete his degree. Casey remains effusive when speaking about his parents’ contribution: “An education is simply one of the best gifts that parents can give their children.”
After graduation, Casey spent time in the wireless industry and then went on to start his own contracting business, which included rehabilitating houses. It was then that he heard Huntco, a commercial site furnishing company, was up for sale. He jumped at the chance to take over Huntco in 2000, and has spent the past thirteen years expanding their bicycle rack line, and added steel benches, trash receptacles, and bicycle lockers to their repertoire. That point is where PSU and Casey reconnected, and everyone that bikes to the University was positively impacted.
PSU sought to create a new bike rack infrastructure around campus, and Casey came forward with a plan that stood apart. The racks were simple by design, and matched an already-present style on campus and around Portland. Huntco and PSU created a partnership that has lasted for many years and built a valuable, environmentally progressive resource for everyone who bikes around our city.
This spring Huntco donated a unique PSU-themed bike rack that can be seen in front of the Simon Benson House home of the PSU Alumni office. “Portland State has been a great supporter of the local bicycle community and has purchased many bike racks from us over the years.” Casey states affectionately. “Being local and an alum, I had an interest in doing my part to support the University’s efforts. The PSU-themed bike rack was my way to say thank you for supporting a small local company like mine, encouraging bike-commuting, and showing what we can do to add some interest to bike parking.”
Casey is clear that his time at PSU helped shape him in myriad ways. He reflects thoughtfully: “My experience at PSU taught me to be patient, work well with others, not try to do everything yourself, and put your faith in good people.” He’s equally positive about what PSU continues to offer current students. “Don’t limit yourself to a small group of classes.” Casey says, “Branch out and take classes that you may not be familiar with. It is often through these opportunities that we find out what our passions are and what our true make-up is.”