It was the River City Bicycles vending machine that first caught my eye.
Not the run-of-the-mill inner tube vending machines many of you have already seen (there’s one at Green Zebra Grocery in north Portland) — I’m talking about a real vending machine with lots of selection and cool products: like hats, bottle cages, stylish water bottles, high-quality chain lube, bells, and more.
After seeing the machine in my social media feeds, I had to swing by the new Modera Belmont apartments on Southeast 6th and Belmont to get a closer look.
Assistant Community Manager Daunte Francis welcomed me at the door and humored my strange request to see the machine and snap a few photos.
I had no idea it lived inside a “Bike Lounge.”
Over the years as our central city has gone bonkers with new apartments and condominiums, we’ve seen many attempts to woo bike-loving tenants. It’s actually rare for one of these new buildings to not make some sort of overt aesthetic or amenity-oriented effort to show how bike-oriented they are. There’s the “Milano” apartments in the Rose Quarter named after the legendary Bianchi bike model; the cycling-inspired Peloton apartments on North Williams; the Central Eastside Lofts on NE Couch and 6th that we said “raised the bar” for bike-friendly amenities when it opened in 2013; and many others.
And of course no discussion of bike amenities at new residential buildings is complete without mentioning the 600-space Lloyd Cycle Station.
But even with all that stiff competition, the Modera Belmont is worth noting.
As Daunte led me through the lobby we followed signs to the Bike Lounge, walking past a wall designed to look like a chalkboard that had drawings of people riding tall bikes. After he waved a key-card at the secure entry, the door to the Bike Lounge swung open to reveal row-upon-row of bike racks. But of course it takes much more than indoor bike parking to excite a jaded bicycle journalist. That’s when Daunte showed me the lounge area.
On the brightly-lit eastern side of the building (SE 7th, a major bicycle corridor) there are two separate seating areas with comfy leather chairs and a coach in front of a big screen TV. Two of the chairs face a huge wall with a bike map of the central city behind a dry-erase board. There are pens and an eraser nearby, which I assume are there to help people share recommended destinations and how to arrive at them by bike safely. I’ve seen big bikes maps on walls before, but the ability to draw on it is a very nice touch.
There are also two Bike Fixation work stands and a full complement of loaner tools and a heavy-duty air compressor (no arduous pumping needed!) mounted to a nearby wall. A room in the middle of the lounge is the bike wash. I didn’t get a great photo of it, but just imagine a shower for a very large human. There’s a shower-head at the end of a hose, a bike stand, and a sink.
And then there’s the vending machine. As per usual, River City Bicycles went the extra mile on this project. Not content to merely slap their sticker on a stock vending machine, they wrapped this one in cool graphics and totally customized it. The machine is first-rate with brightly-lit shelves that spin around so you can see the full selection at the push of a button. “Can’t find whatcha need?” proclaims a sticker on the front. “We’re just a few blocks away.” (Indeed, Modera residents can easily walk to River City’s outlet store on 5th and Belmont or their flagship store on SE Alder and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.)
Another feature I was very pleased to see was a separate entry door directly from SE 7th Avenue that had a nice wide ramp for rolling bikes directly into the lounge (so you don’t have to go through the nicely decorated lobby).
And to top it all off, there were two TransitScreen monitors in the lobby displaying real-time information about nearby buses, light rail, and bike share.
All this can be yours for about $1,500 a month for a one-bedroom or $2,500 (and up) for a two-bedroom.
Overall, it’s a very impressive effort to encourage no-car/low-car living in a fast-growing inner eastside district. Now we need to make the streets outside this building just as welcoming.
Learn more about the Modera Belmont building via our friends at NextPortland.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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