Urban Detail (ix) More on bike parking issues

Right now Ottawa seems happy with bicycles parked on sidewalks. Even many downtown office buildings surround themselves with on-sidewalk bike parking (eg Jean Edwards buildings) while some others make room for bikes indoors (Constitution Square, Flaherty building).

But on-sidewalk bike parking isn’t a viable long-term practice. In larger numbers they become a nuisance to pedestrians, a scene already familiar in a few downtown Ottawa locales.

And as the city grows, and provides better cycling infrastructure, the bike parking problem will only grow too.

Here’s a few more examples of how other cities handle cycle parking.

This underground / under-street cycle parking garage is accessed by a slightly intimidating long flight of shallow steps. Users are expected to walk their bike on the side “runnels”  like the man in the picture:

The steps are all the same colour, and shallower than our foot-memory recalls, so reflective dots have been added to help those with less acute eyesight and depth perception to actually see the step edges. Note that the entrance is so busy there is room for two bikes to enter and two to leave at the same time, ie a four lane entrance. And note that “lefties” have the option of using the right or left side runnel.

Once inside the garage, the ones I saw tended to be high ceilinged, well designed spaces trying to be ‘friendly’ to users:

I tried out using the “upper level” parking rack, and was surprised shocked at how finger-easy it was to pull out and load up my bike. These racks may look intimidating to us, but once used, they were remarkably easy and comfortable. Plus, if you use the upper rack, and drips are onto the bike below …

Still, many cyclists prefer to use outdoor posts…

which results in total bike parking blight that may totally block pedestrian sidewalks…

(in the above picture, note the retracting bollard in the centre of the pedestrianized / cycle-friendly street, and that authorized vehicles belonging to residents, taxis, and some delivery vehicles can tap their card on the side stanchion to cause the post to retract…)

Returning to a cycle garage, here is a closer view of cycle escalators. Users walk their bike up to the end of the conveyor belt, the motion detector starts it moving, and the cyclist walks up the stairs while the conveyor moves the bike. Note the paper sign advising users to hold the handbrakes. Otherwise the tires of the bike just rotate and the bike doesn’t move. I watched a group of Spanish tourists renting bikes here, they had enormous confusion about the concept:

On the way INTO the garage, there wasn’t a conveyor as gravity does the work. But here’s a clever feature, notice the stiff brushes on both sides of the runnel. They help slow the bike down to walking speed, and also clean the grit off the tires. The garage floor was extraordinarily clean compared to our image of a parking garage floor:

Lastly, here’s an outdoor bike parking area with rain covers, located at a train stop:

Ottawa’s new LRT system has a lot of cycle parking spaces. It remains to be seen if they will be as popular as anticipated. Or more popular.

Many Europeans use basic bikes for urban transport, due to the theft issues. As more cyclists want to use their “better” bikes, lockable bike garages are showing up offering secure storage, for a fee. I presume these lockers were added later, as the arched roof overhead might now be redundant…

We will soon see how well our new LRT stations handle bikes. And if new buildings (like the Library) plan to handle bikes well or poorly.

Correcting past mistakes will be costly; and existing garage operators may need some push or incentives to convert some indoor car parking spaces to bike parking, during the cycling-season. Constitution Square is the leader in this area today.

2 thoughts on “Urban Detail (ix) More on bike parking issues

  1. bikers who run errands don’t want or need indoor parking’s. again the cash crabbers need more money. you are the first to have ever mentioned publicly that bike are in the way of pedestrians. have you been bought off. when bikers take bikes around town it’s for convenience. it’s fast you can hit multiple spots in succession without having to find a place to park that isn’t a mile away and the parking is free, and sorry bikes aren’t in the way. government ALWAYS encourages healthy behavior’s and sometimes even incentives and get’s people into it, and when people decide to invest in a bike for example they come out with laws that you now have to have a licence, insurance and pay for parking everywhere. it’s your’e limited way of thinking that make’s everybodies life more miserable than it should be. anyways you seemed to ya seemed to in the past to have at least some basic critical thinking skills. did they buy you out.

    1. Marcel, what Mr. Darwin presents on his website is insight into how other cities address common challenges. People, as they move about in a community, be they pedestrians, cyclists, mass transit users or (forbid) personal use motor vehicles, are frequently interacting with each other. The challenge lies in how to optimize how their various needs are met.

      In the case in point, you appear to be of the opinion that the needs of a select subset of cyclists are dominant, and that the needs of pedestrians who use the same space are of little or no consequence. Putting aside the selfish perspective you have presented, would it be too much to ask if you could point to where in the offending column Mr. Darwin has stated that the ONLY place a cyclist should be allowed to park his/her bicycle is underground? What the article does present is what other cities have done to integrate a place underground where cyclists can store their bicycles, and provides some interesting solutions on how to get the bicycle into and out of the underground space.

Thank you for reading. So what do you think?