By John Tulinsky
Utility cyclists often face the challenge of finding a place to safely and easily store their bikes while they're shopping, working, or doing errands. But it looks like bike parking is about to get at least a little easier in some areas of Seattle.
The Seattle Department of Transportation recently announced its plans to convert some on-street parking places to bicycle parking. The spots will be separated from the street with curbs and equipped with racks for eight bicycles, similar to Portland's bike corrals. The first one has already been installed, at 12th Ave and East Spring Street, in front of Stumptown Coffee Roasters and adjacent to Seattle University. Two more -- another on Capitol Hill, on Broadway East near the Broadway Market and one in Greenlake at Woodlawn Ave NE and NE 70th Street, near Gregg's Greenlake Cycles -- will be completed by mid-February. Additional spaces will be built in other neighborhoods later this year.
I like the symbolism of replacing a parking spot for one car with one that will accommodate eight bikes. I also like the fact that providing bike parking in these specific locations will encourage people to use their bikes for shopping and running errands and not just for commuting. However, bike commuters often prefer more security than is provided by an open rack on the street. There are several great local examples of innovative, secure storage solutions that I'd like to see more of.
The Bicycle Alliance of Washington provides both storage and service with their downtown Bikestation bicycle parking facility. The Bikestation provides secure storage for bicycles, 24/7 access, and there is a mechanic on duty from 9-5, Monday to Friday. Those who prefer to do their own repairs, or who need repairs after hours, can access basic tools at the Bikestation, and a vending machine sells spare tubes and other common replacement parts.
Of course, many commuters don't need something so complex. Selected Park-and-Rides, and student/employee facilities on the University of Washington campus offer secure bike storage in enclosed lockers.
All of the bike parking facilities discussed in this post are marked on this map:
View Larger Map.
In Seattle, according to statistics from theDepartment of Transportation, 36% (approximately 185,000 people) of residents are recreational cyclists, while 4,000-8,000 are bicycle commuters. These numbers tend to confirm my own observation: bike commuters are generally cyclists first. There will always be dedicated cyclists who will ride regardless of the challenges, but in order for bikes to be accepted as a legitimate transportation option, cycling needs to be convenient and safe for everyone, not just for the hard-core.
If you're interested in bike commuting, you can find thorough information from choosing a bike to staying up-to-date on construction projects that might hinder cycling on the Bicycle Alliance of Washington's website.
You can read more about bike commuting and bike-friendly cities in our archives:
John Tulinsky has a collection of post-graduate degrees, most recently a Master's in Information Management from the University of Washington. He is amazed by the possibilities for collaboration and community made possible by the internet and enjoys long, long bike rides.
Photo credit: John Tulinsky