When demands for bicycling improvements come from businesses, decision makers tend to pay attention.
And nothing gets the attention of business owners and decision makers like parking. Business owners know that if customers can get into their stores easily and directly, they are more likely to become and remain loyal, regular customers.
And when business owners start asking for bike parking, we bikies sit up and take notice.
We’ve all noticed the increase in bikers in downtown Santa Barbara. But as demand for cycling increases, the supply of safe, reliable, conspicuous bike parking also becomes a more highly sought-after commodity. When parking is limited, bicyclists start finding poles and trees and other objects on the sidewalk on which to lock up. Mix in pedestrians, outside dining areas, and way-finding signs, and things start getting crowded on our precious sidewalks.
What’s the solution, you ask? One design that has become popular in over 26 American cities and in cities all over the world is on-street bike parking, known as a bike corral.
The concept is simple. Find a section of street already blocked from car parking (like a red zone), or take away one or two car-parking spots. Add six to 12 bike racks. Storefronts gain 10 to 20 parking spots for their customers, and the cost to the city comes down to the racks, plus some paint and maybe bollards.
I am fascinated and pleased that requests for these on-street bike-parking solutions aren’t coming from the desks of planners. These requests are coming directly from business owners in the hearts of business districts. They want this bike parking because their customers and employees are using bikes as their vehicle. This is basic supply-and-demand economics here. Got that? More customers and employees are riding bikes, and therefore need more bike parking. And when bike parking becomes a priority focus of planning a vibrant, flowing business district, it’s time we all pay attention.