News

The Oregonian: Portland State University's Bike Hub sets its bike theft prevention strategy apart
Author: Carli Brosseau
Posted: February 27, 2015

Read the original story in The Oregonian

A recent Portland State University survey showed that about 13 percent of the school's staff and faculty, and 9 percent of its students commute to the downtown campus by bicycle. 

"The bike counts keep increasing each year," said Clint Culpepper, manager of the school's Bike Hub, which sells gear, rents bikes and provides maintenance services. 

PSU's Transportation Department created the Bike Hub as part of its strategy to keep the school's costs down, Culpepper said. Officials reasoned that if more people commuted by bike, there would be less pressure to squeeze expensive new parking structures into Portland's dense downtown.

The Bike Hub focuses on teaching students as much as they want to know about cycling. Workers coach students in how to maintain and fix their bikes, how to ride safely and -- especially important to daily commuters -- how to protect their bike from being stolen.

They try to anticipate problems. The store sells $45 U-locks to member students for $30. "Every lock that we sell is something we personally would feel comfortable locking our bikes with," Culpepper said.

Students who forget their locks can check one out for $1. And students aren't likely to forget how to correctly use a lock: There's a sticker on each rack showing proper procedure.

The university has most recently pushed to expand indoor bike parking. PSU now sells more than 500 permits a year and is about to open its seventh bike garage, Culpepper said.

PSU's chief of campus public safety, Phillip Zerzan, said bike theft numbers have been holding fairly steady. That's in contrast to an upward citywide trend. 

By his count, 54 bicycles worth a combined $28,500 were stolen at PSU last school year.