Home Back Issues April 2014 Business cycles

Business cycles

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Article Index
Business cycles
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
0414 bikes img 0072 
 

From 2006 through 2008, Portland’s bike-related industry grew by 38%, contributing $90 million annually, according to a study by Alta Planning + Design. Six years later, the industry contributes more than $100 million per year, with a new crop of businesses helping fuel growth.

Back at South Waterfront, Go By Bike owner Kiel Johnson points out that his business exists at a rare transportation hub: Automobiles, street cars and buses circle the block; pedestrians approach via the Gibbs Street Bridge; a tram whisks commuters up and down the hill; and more than 500 bicycles arrive every day. But Johnson’s close relationship with OHSU, and his plans to grow beyond South Waterfront, highlight another kind of hub that’s emerged in Portland over the past half decade. The city’s entrepreneurial culture is turning Portland into an innovation center for bike-related enterprises.

Go By Bike addresses a specific need. OHSU’s chronic shortage of auto parking requires a 25-person staff, which oversees assigned spaces, parking badges and other transportation issues. As the hospital and medical school system grow, OHSU is trying to encourage more people to take the bus, carpool or bike to work.

When Portland’s aerial tram connected OHSU’s waterfront campus with its top-of-the-hill offices, bike-commuting rates climbed, says John Landolfe, transportation options coordinator. Riders unwilling to trek uphill to the older campus were happy to ride to a lower elevation and then catch the tram up the hill to work. But soon the tram became overcrowded with bikes.

“We needed a way to convince people to park at the bottom of the tram,” Landolfe says. “I found myself asking, how is it that we have a hundred bike shops across Portland, and there’s no bike valet?” Today, 180 riders check their bikes at the base of the tram each day year-round — closer to 300 during peak summer months. Johnson supplements Go By Bike’s OHSU subsidy with bike rentals and repairs, business lines that now contribute about a third of the company’s revenue. Johnson is also developing a proposal for valet service during Trail Blazers’ basketball games. Andersen says he plans to ask Johnson to explore valet service at the Lloyd District development as well.

Go By Bike offers evidence that Portland’s bike economy is about more than just selling bicycles and parts. It’s about supporting a population that increasingly uses bikes as transportation. And as these businesses blossom, they are feeding a growing industry niche that sells to locals, tourists and clients beyond the region, says Kyle Kautz, co-owner of PDX Pedicab.

“We joke that there’s a capitalist bike co-op,” laughs Kautz. “A lot of us try to partner with as many small local businesses as possible.” Kautz took charge at PDX Pedicab in 2009, two years after the business began shuttling downtown drinkers from bar to bar. Local enthusiasm for bicycles brought in enough fares to pay the bills, but Kautz thought he could do better by marketing to tourists.

“Portland is such a beer area, we thought, ‘Let’s do beer by bike,’” he says. “You can’t ride while drunk, so we’ll do it for you.” PDX Pedicab has now developed 10 official tours and experiences, some centered on food and drink, others that take visitors to scenic destinations around town. “Bikes are a big thing in the city, and tourists love it.”

That focus on tourism dollars has transformed PDX Pedicab into a company that’s “exponentially more successful than we were several years ago,” says Kautz, who is preparing a trial expansion into Seaside this summer.

“The city’s goal is to get 25% of all trips made by bicycle in 2030,” says Johnson. “Right now it’s about 6% or 7%. If you’re thinking about starting a bike business, you have a market that’s going to grow three times or more.”



 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 RE: Business cyclesGuest 2014-04-04 17:10:05
Very good article. I would add that Cambia also organizes the Portland Employer Bike Summit. The third annual event is Friday, May 16th from 1-4pm. Registration will open up soon.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
-1 #2 CommentorGuest 2014-04-07 22:44:36
Among Portland's unique cycle businesses is Stites Design, which designs and builds front-wheel drive, electric-assist ed cargo trikes capable of carrying 600 pounds. Using these in urban areas would significantly reduce pollution from trucks. And provide good exercise for delivery drivers See http://www.stitesdesign.com.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Shifting Ground

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

Bans on genetically modified crops create uncertainty for farmers.


Read more...

Gone Girl

News
Monday, September 29, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Wehby disappears, Kitzhaber fails to disclose and Seattle gets bike share before Portland.


Read more...

The short list: 5 hot coffee shops for entrepreneurs

Contributed Blogs
Friday, November 14, 2014

CupojoeBY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Oregon entrepreneurs reveal their favorite caffeine hangouts.


Read more...

Revenge Forestry

November/December 2014
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG

A flare-up in the Elliott Forest raises questions about détente in Oregon’s timber wars.


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Lizotte at ACME Business Solutions and Roger Busse at Pacific Continental Bank share their favorite reads.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS