Columns / Discourse / May 9, 2018

Bike Nice: Parking: Let’s do it right and in the right places

Last week I crossed paths with someone from an entirely different department. It’s one of the reasons that a small liberal arts college is great. A random meeting, interesting conversation.

We both ride bikes and we talked about that. Maybe it was because a bike rack was nearby. Maybe because spring brought forth more bikes on campus. For whatever reason, parking was on my mind and we traded comments about bike parking on campus.

Just because I’ve got a rack right outside my office door, that’s not the end of my concern. I’m concerned about inferior and inadequate racks outside residence halls and campus buildings. Where racks are new and improved, there aren’t enough, they’re too close together and some are in the wrong place.

My conversational colleague said he liked the deluxe covers by Duo-Gard that he saw on someone else’s campus. I replied that I like the deluxe integrated rack-covers by CyclePods that I’ve seen on-line.

I call them “deluxe” because they’re not cheap. If the collective-campus-wide “we” will bite the bullet for the expense of good, covered racks, we can go a long way toward solving bike parking problems.

I am not asking for bikers to get special treatment. I view bikes as vehicles. Same as with cars, bike parking is more than comfort or convenience. It’s a land use, landscape design problem. It’s great to reward cycling’s sustainability with better parking spots. But no amount of gold stars for sustainability justifies bikers parking anywhere they want. Cars rule the world, but we don’t let them park anywhere.

I believe that if we installed better covered racks, being able to park under cover will attract users and we can keep bikes from cluttering up the public faces of our campus buildings. As I’ve argued before, a single bike is a thing of beauty. A line of bikes is a pile of plumbing. Not attractive.

I take photos of Seymour Library several times a month. The bikes are unattractive. Install a covered rack on the west side of Seymour Union that would serve both library and the west side of the Union.

The current rack outside the Caf is in a great location. It just needs to be twice as big and under cover.

Old Main should not have a bike rack outside. Instead, extend and cover the rack outside Founders Lab. If you can walk out the door of Old Main and see your bike, under a covered rack, that’s close enough.

At Whitcomb Art Center, I would have built a wall-length covered rack on the south side of the communications building, large enough to serve both buildings. But now we’ve got racks in the plaza, so at least cover them. Perhaps here we need a custom cover that matches the style of the art center roof.

In some places, bikes need to go to the same parking areas as cars. For example, a covered rack in the parking lot at Seymour Library could also serve the Union. The “best parking spot” for bikes may very well be a covered rack, in the spot in the current parking lot that’s closest to the door.

More and better covered racks will incentivize parking in the right places. That will de-incentivize the park-anywhere temptation that’s everywhere in biking — myself included.

Peter Bailley

Tags:  bike nice biking parking

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