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.