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Kristen SteeleKristen Steele & her son Axel in San Francisco.
By Kristen Steele
My apartment building doesn’t have bicycle parking and I desperately need somewhere to safely park my two bikes. What is a renter to do?
Rackless in Seattle
I’m sure many readers can sympathize with your plight. About 99 percent of all car trips end in a free parking spot. Conversely, bicyclists often have to search for a telephone pole or tree to lock their ride to.
First off, determine the person you will need to convince, whether it’s your apartment building’s manager, maintenance director or owner. Know what you want before you approach this person and be specific in your request.
Talk to other cyclists in your building and encourage them to sign onto a letter with you. Even if you are currently the only cyclist in your building, you might be able to persuade your building manager with these points:
+ Between six and 20 bikes can fit into one car parking space. With real estate at a premium, creating bike parking can save cash.
+ A basic bike rack is relatively inexpensive – under $200 – and converting an existing storage closet could be even cheaper.
+ Bike parking could be the feature that helps fill vacant rentals.
+ Would he or she rather have tenants carry bikes inside their homes, potentially scuffing walls and spreading grease?
Some cities offer incentives for installing bike parking. Seattle will install bike racks for free in public spaces, if a business owner makes the request. Minneapolis will pay 50 percent of the cost at eligible businesses, including apartment complexes. Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club offers assistance in looking at facilities and making them more bike-friendly.
Knowing your options and a few supporting facts should help you convince the powers that be to give your bike a safe place to rest.
Kristen Steele is the benchmarking project manager for the Alliance for Biking and Walking. She has 11 years of experience working with nonprofits and seven years of experience working as a bicycle/ pedestrian advocate. She is also a freelance writer and lives in Northern California.