Vancouver Scrambles to Keep Up With the Demand for Bike Parking

The city tripled bike rack installation in 2015.

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Cycling in vancouver

This bike rack at Broadway and Yew was one of 289 new ones installed by the city of Vancouver in 2015. The city more than tripled the number of new bike racks installed last year. Last year, the City of Vancouver installed more than three times the number of new bicycle racks compared to 2013 and 2014. Photo by Megan Devlin.

Last year, the City of Vancouver installed more than three times the number of new bicycle racks compared to 2013 and 2014.

The new locking stations appear mainly in the downtown core, the Downtown Eastside, Hastings and along Main and Kingsway. The city put in 289 new racks in 2015, up from 93 and 94 the previous two years. The last time the city rolled out a similar number was 2012.

This map plots the new racks in red and those installed prior to 2015 in yellow.

There were a number of reasons for the spike in rack installation, city staff said. More people cycling in the city, a push to install multiple racks at a time and anticipation of the new bike share program coming this summer all contributed to the nearly 300 new racks installed.

Cycling is the fastest growing mode of travel in Vancouver. In 2014, Vancouverites made 99,100 trips by bike—five per cent of total trips in the city.

“The growth in cycling is something that we’re kind of scrambling to keep up with,” said Lon LaClaire, acting director of transportation for the city. The city installs bike racks when someone makes a request via 311. In the past year, LaClaire said, there’s been a push to install two or three racks when a request is made because it probably speaks to a larger need.

Most requests come from Business Improvement Area associations, he added. “When [BIAs] see bikes being locked to street furniture or poles or stuff like that that creates some problems in terms of access to parking spaces,” he said.

Getting Vancouver ready for new bike share program is another reason the city is installing more racks — GPS tracking means the public bikes can be locked at regular racks. “The experience in cities where they’ve introduced [bike shares] is just the amount of cycling increases,” LaClaire said. “Even the people who don’t become bike share members see more cycling and see it to be a more normal activity…we do anticipate a big jump in demand.”

But, according to cycling advocates, outdoor racks are an easy target for thieves.

“Anytime you see clusters of 20 or 30 bikes all locked on top of each other in a mish mash, those are the places that realize the highest incidences of theft,” said Colin Stein, director of marketing, communications and campaigns with HUB, Vancouver’s largest cycling advocacy organization. He said secure, indoor bike parking is a better alternative.

Megan Devlin is a journalist who came to Vancouver from Toronto for a graduate degree at UBC in 2015. She loves cycling around the city because it gives her a chance to stare at the beautiful mountain vistas. Feel free to check out her website or follow her on Twitter


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