A few photos from my weekend demonstrate a problem with most North American cities when they accommodate (or don’t) people cycling. Often there isn’t enough official bicycle parking (single or multiple racks). This creates a free for all where people cycling have to find anything to lock their bicycle up to: traffic sign pole, parking meter, tree, chain link fence. This can clutter up what little space is available for pedestrians. Letting people know where they can park their bicycles with official bicycle bike racks does two things:
1. The small things matter. Although small by itself one bike rack maybe won’t amount to much, but a city wide consistent network of bicycle parking stalls does a lot. City inhabitants will recognize and appreciate the effort from the city to make their experience cycling in the city as hassle free as possible, If you treat cycling as a legitimate mobility option, you are more likely to entice people to consider cycling as a viable mode.
2. Clearly designates where bicycles belong and where they don’t, clearing the confusion and the clutter on sidewalks.
This doesn’t mean that private partners cannot step up either. Placing a bike rack in front of their business signals to prospective cycling patrons or customers that they recognize cycling’s legitimacy as a mobility option and are willing to make it easier for them to shop at their business.
Full Bike Rack at Kingsway and Broadway indicates there could be more bicycle parking here
Looking down Kingsway you can see all official bicycle racks full, and bicycles locked up to parking meters
I found the same situation here outside the popular 33 Acres
So what does good bicycle parking look like, well this example outside this urban Home Depot is a fine example. In this case many of the small details were addressed: there is wide spacing between the racks for easy loading/locking, a free air pump and bicycle repair station was provided. The bicycle racks were even placed under the awning to protect them from the rain, and right outside the Home Depot entrance. People cycling here will feel like their rights to cycle are being respected as a legitimate mode.
An even better example of this is an on-the-road bike corral like the one along the Dunsmuir separated bike lane. This is great because people cycling can stay on the road to park their bicycle, and it removes the need for people to move onto the sidewalk to park their bicycle, removing the clutter and potential for pedestrian/bicycle collisions while at the same time providing a protective buffer for the cycling lane from the traffic lanes. From the photo you can also see that people clearly prefer the bike corral, as all of the sidewalk racks are empty in this area.