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.
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.