By John Greenfield, Erik Neumann, and Kristen Steele
Photography: John Greenfield, Erik Neumann, and Steve Shay
How “Pay-and-Display” Impacts Bike Parking
The last time Lisa Phillips pedaled her three-year-old daughter Violet to Spanish class in Chicago’s bike-friendly Logan Square neighborhood, she had a tough time finding a place to lock up. Most of the parking meters on the block had vanished, removed as part of the city’s plan to convert 36,000 metered spaces to “pay-and-display” parking. “It’s awful,” says Phillips. “There’s absolutely not enough bicycle parking anymore.”
Chicago is one of many North American cities that are switching to multi-space pay boxes as a way to streamline money collection, but the result can be fewer spots to dock a bike. As a former employee of Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) and Bike Parking Program Manager for the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), I contacted my old employers for details and talked to folks in other cities about their experiences with this challenge.
Last May, many Chicago cyclists panicked when the city announced plans to uproot most of its parking meters. “There was a lot of anger and frustration,” recalls ATA’s Executive Director Rob Sadowsky. He sent an urgent “Save Chicago bike parking!” memo to the advocacy group’s members, asking them to lobby their aldermen to include money for replacement bike parking in the city’s 2010 budget, but such funding wasn’t included.
Talks between ATA and the city led to a policy of leaving one out of seven meters in place on retail blocks with no bike racks, says CDOT spokesman Brian Steele. The city is also using much of its annual supply of federally-funded “inverted U” bike racks to replace parking on blocks where meters were removed. In the future, CDOT may retrofit the remaining meters, removing the heads, capping the poles and bolting on rings to create “post-and-ring” bike racks, said Steele.
“We certainly would have preferred to have more meters remain,” Sadowsky said. “But it was a negotiation and we settled on something both the city and Active Trans could live with.”
New York recently removed all the meters along many Manhattan retail streets before the city began addressing the bike parking issue, said Transportation Alternatives’ Wiley Norvell. Roughly half the meters on Madison Avenue will get rings and the DOT vows to install 5,000 bike racks over the next three years, but about 15,000 meters are already gone. “The lesson for other cities is not to play catch-up,” said Norvell.
Likewise, when Oakland, California, began removing some 5,000 meters for “pay-and-display” in early 2007, there was no plan to replace bike parking. Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager Jason Patton says the city is now saving two meters per block and has installed about 400 racks this year. “But it’s better to integrate the bike parking needs into the conversion project so that when the “pay-and-display” kiosks go in and meters go out, racks also go in,” he said.
Toronto is a shining example of this strategy. Before conversions began in 2001, a bicyclist who sat on the board of the parking authority advocated for preserving all bike parking. “He said, ‘The city’s promoting bicycle use and yet we’re going to put all these cyclists at an inconvenience,” recalled Dave Tomlinson from the Toronto bike program. The parking authority agreed to bolt rings onto all the meter poles or, in cases where meters were too close to the curb, install new post-and-rings. These retrofits and racks account for half of Toronto’s 16,000 racks – the most of any North American city.
“If the parking infrastructure’s program is creating extra work for the cycling infrastructure’s program, that’s a waste of resources,” Tomlinson advised. “You need to make the case that you can’t have one department working against the other.”
- John Greenfield
Seattle Elects Cycling Mayor
After a close race this November, Mike McGinn was elected Mayor of Seattle. Up to the November 3 election, the candidate could be seen riding his way down the campaign trail on his electric assist bike. McGinn was outspent by his opponent three to one and lacked major business endorsements, but his devoted volunteer campaign team pushed him over the top and garnered eleventh hour support by directing undecided voters to deliver ballots at a late night location in South Seattle. McGinn is the former executive director of the non-profit organization “Great City,” which focuses on land-use and sustainability in the city. His plans include directing tax dollars towards Seattle’s underfunded Bicycle Master Plan, increasing bike lanes and supporting numerous neighborhood-level improvements such as P-Patches (parcels of property used for gardening allotments) and sidewalk construction in order to create more people-friendly public spaces.
– Erik Neumann
Toronto Cyclists Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude
If you’re a Toronto driver who is courteous to cyclists, you might be getting a thank you card. The aim of a new driver appreciation campaign – recently launched by the Toronto Cyclists Union – involves cyclists hand-delivering over 3,000 such cards to drivers who make a point of treating them with respect in traffic. According to Executive Director Yvonne Bambrick, “People often forget there are thousands of commuters who arrive safely and without incident, to work, school and home every day. It’s time to encourage positive behavior and find a way to reward those people who use Toronto’s roads with respect.”
WABA Helps DC Cyclists Get Visible
As daylight hours dwindle, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is helping DC-area cyclists stay visible. In conjunction with the District Department of Transportation, the City of Alexandria and Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, WABA handed out 800 free light sets to cyclists along with safety literature at various DC locations. The lights giveaway is just part of WABA’s effort to make streets safer for cyclists by raising awareness of the importance of being seen when riding, especially at night.
Colorado Adopts Groundbreaking Policy for Bikes
Colorado streets may be getting more bicycle-friendly thanks to a groundbreaking policy recently adopted by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The new policy directs that “the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians shall be included in the planning, design and operation of transportation facilities, as a matter of routine.” Dan Grunig of Bicycle Colorado said, “We have passed positive bicycle legislation and overturned bike bans, but passing this policy may be the biggest step we’ve taken towards bicyclists being treated as legitimate road users.”
Spotlight on Cycling’s Economic Impact in Marin
This past November, bicycling was recognized for bringing bucks to Marin County, CA. The Marin Economic Commission recognized the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) with an award for their leadership in bringing USD$183 million into the county over the last 11 years for improving Marin’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. These funds went to Marin towns, cities and the county itself for the development of biking and walking facilities, all of which have employed numerous agency staff, consultants and contractors in the projects’ analysis, design and implementation. According to the MCBC, “Since we spent our first 10 years working on making bicycling a legitimate form of transportation, it is extremely rewarding to now have bicycling and the facility improvement projects that it has spawned recognized as a significant impact on our local economy.”
Coming Soon: More Bikes on Buses in California
Soon, more cyclists will be able to jump on buses in the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District. According to the California Bicycle Coalition, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law on October 10 allowing the district to equip larger buses with racks that carry three bikes. State law previously limited transit buses to racks large enough for just two bikes.
– Kristen Steele