Where bicycles meet basketballs

Now, because Sharrow likes to say that my middle name is “Prompt,” we deliver the following urgent news, just in time:

Yes, today’s surprise winner of the much coveted Gold Award for the Outstanding Encouragement of Alternative Modes of Transportation is …

.. the University of Oregon, for it’s new $227 million basketball arena, which will host its first big event tonight, as the UO men’s basketball team hosts the University of Southern California.

Let me explain: You see, some time ago, somebody on Twitter was wondering what the bike parking situation would be at the new arena.

Being the curious sort, I happily rode over there on my way to work one day last week.

It’s always fun riding over by campus. It keeps me on top of the pop culture zeitgeist, as well as current fashion controversies. For instance, I was forced to consider whether it is more fashionable to wear one’s Ugg boots straight up, or folded down.

I’m not sure of the answer, but it’s better to have asked the question and been stumped than to never have asked the question at all.

I reached the arena and began a slow circumnavigation. While doing so I counted 107 of these standard-issue bike racks.

Actually, there are 114 racks if you count the seven in front of the Ford Alumni building next door.

The official Matthew Knight Arena website says there are 150 racks. I may well have missed some. And at big events, such as basketball games, there is going to be, we are told, valet bike parking for an additional 350 bicycles.

That’s room for somewhere around 600 bikes, assuming you can get two on each of the regular racks around the building.

The new area is supposed to seat roughly 12,500 basketball fans. That would mean easy bike parking for some 4.8 percent of a capacity crowd.

I know, you are asking: 4.8 percent? How does that qualify them for the prestigious Gold Award for the Outstanding Encouragement of Alternative Modes of Transportation? Well, I asked myself this same question.

But as I stood there in the cold, counting bike racks, I began to look around. And a thought occurred to me: “Where, exactly,” I asked myself, “are they going to put the cars?”

Yes, this is the evil genius in the plan. It is an approach that is more stick than carrot — because, in fact, there is no place to park a car! (Register-Guard reporter Greg Bolt explores this issue in today’s paper.) Motorist are going to explode in frustration as they circle the surrounding neighborhoods trying to hunt down a parking spot. Either that or they will have to pay $10 to park in one of various campus lots. Or they can pay $3 to park at Autzen Stadium or South Eugene High School and then hop on a shuttle bus.

By contrast you can park your bike mere steps from the front entry to the arena for free. Or, if you opt for fancy valet bike parking, you will have to part with just one (1) thin dollar.

But what really put the arena over the top in winning the Gold Award for the Outstanding Encouragement of Alternative Modes of Transportation is the little-known special privilege given to those who are in the so-called “Founders Club,” people who donated at least 1 million (1 million) thin dollars toward the building of the new arena. (I don’t believe I am in that club, and I doubt that you are either.)

Those who are “Founders Club” donors will actually be beamed, Star Trek-like, from the opulence of their own living rooms directly into their seats at courtside, requiring the consumption of zero (0) fossil fuels.

And — get this — when Elton John performs at the arena next month, he will be transported, fantastically, via Time Machine! So that he will appear in performance something like this:

And we can all pretend that the arena’s first big concert is actually happening in 1977 (1977) and features a rock star in his prime — or something like that.

5 thoughts on “Where bicycles meet basketballs

  1. I did some work with the BPAC on this issue back in 2008 when the original conditional use permit was given. The University was trying to make the bike parking area as minimal as possible and we didn’t really think it was enough. We wrote a letter to them expressing our concerns:

    When you consider that ridership in Eugene is some of the highest in the nation 4.8% is pretty pitiful.
    I also wonder what the Valet bike parking is going to look like. The Duck Pen is a horribly ugly and non-inviting kind of place to park a bike. They really had the potential to do something GREAT to encourage people to bike to the new arena and I think they might have missed the mark.

    Here’s a bit on EugeneCycles about the 625 spots too: http://blogs.eugeneweekly.com/eugenecycles/arena-plans-625-bike-spaces

    1. Thanks, Shane, for filling in the backstory. I know that you and other advocates do a lot of work on these kinds of issues — and you probably don’t get due credit. (I actually have a post about that in the works!)

      I do have to say I don’t care much about bike pens being ugly. If I’m giving my bike to a valet, I don’t care where they put it, assuming it’s going to be kept safe. There’s nothing fancy about the valet bike parking at Art & the Vineyard, say, but I’ve never given a second thought to that. It’s just handy.

      Despite the silly tone of the post here, I do think that probably the best way to get people to think about traveling to the arena in some way other than a car is not to make the bike parking especially cool, but to make it a nightmare to park a car. (I think this is true of campus in general.) And, no, I don’t really think they did this on purpose — I guess that’s the joke of this post — but that would seem to be the reality.

      I don’t know, though. It will be interesting to see how things go over there tonight: How hard is it for people to park a car? Do people take advantage of the shuttle buses? How full is the bike parking? I won’t be able to make it over, but if anyone does, e-mail some photos of the bike racks, and I’ll happily add them to the post. [ eugenebicyclist -at- gmail -dot- com ]

  2. I think you’re totally right. Besides the carrot of nice bike parking you need the stick of making it hard to drive. From reports I heard traffic was pretty bad…. which is good =).

    Anyone reading this go to the game? Would love to see and hear about it… the parking, I already know we won.

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