Originally a mobile bike shop that operated out of a small trailer near the Aerial Tram in South Portland, Go By Bike bike shop has turned into one of the largest daily bike valet services in the country. Go By Bike was founded in the summer of 2011, and last week, owner Kiel Johnson recorded a one-day record of 198 parking customers, according to bikeportland.org.
When Johnson shared more about his valet service, he explained their daily average over the year is 132 bikes per day, in the past 13 months they have parked 28,859 bikes, 60% of users are female and 40% are male, and they’ve had zero bike thefts in valet or the surrounding area while they have been operating in South Portland.
Johnson gives credit to the bike-friendly road infrastructure in the South Waterfront area, and he says the key to popularity has been the creation of a welcoming space. According to bikeportland.org, Johnson said, “We have shown that one of the ways to drastically increase the number of people riding bicycles is not only to focus on building comfortable infrastructure but also building a vibrant community place.”
Johnson has four employees, and he sees them as valet attendants, bike mechanics, and ambassadors for bicycling. They plan to make bicycling easy enough for everyone to try.
Go By Bike is located directly under the Aerial Tram, just north of the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Center for Health and Healing. Just earlier this month, Congressman Earl Blumenauer stopped by unannounced while giving his colleague (and member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee), Illinois Democrat Cheri Bustos, a tour.
Go By Bike operates under contract with OHSU, which fully funds the bike valet, operated for free, and it’s technically part of Portland Aerial Tram operations. OHSU’s Transportation Options Coordinator John Landolfe says, “For significantly less than the cost of a bike cage of similar capacity, we’ve been able to create a secure experience for 200 or more riders as well as a few full-time jobs,” according to bikeportland.org.
Landolfe has been invited to speak about OHSU’s bike parking operations at the annual International Parking Institute conference in Florida next week. His next plan is a bike share system for apartments and businesses which he hopes to have available by June. He also hopes to expand the valet service to other locations around Portland.