Feature Article - May 2020
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On a Roll

Creating Bike-Friendly Parks & Communities

By Dave Ramont


The Right Stuff

For communities, parks and businesses that desire better bike infrastructure, bike parking and storage is a big part of the equation. According to conservative studies, a bike is stolen in the United States every 60 seconds. Bike commuters are more likely to utilize protected bike lanes and trails if there's dependable, secure bike parking at their destination.

"To encourage more cyclists to use their own bikes for transportation, end-of-trip dry, convenient and secure bike parking is the best solution," said Richard Cohen, president of a New Jersey-based designer and manufacturer of bike storage solutions. "The challenges are finding locations to install them and the funding to pay for them. In addition to applying for grants, getting more sponsors is an option. Incorporating revenue-generating advertising panels (like bus stop shelters) is another way to generate revenue to cover the cost, and potentially generate additional revenue for cities."

There are many types of bike shelters, cages and lockers these days in countless styles and configurations, for indoor and outdoor applications, with some capable of storing hundreds of bikes. Locking bike shelters limit entry to designated users and will accommodate most locks including keypad, swipe card and touchless fobs. Some units store bikes vertically on hangers, and some are modular and can be expanded or reconfigured. Some shelters feature options like solar lighting, custom signage, benches and repair stations. Bike racks come in a myriad of sizes and styles and some are two-tier, with lift-assist ramps for easy loading. Temporary, stackable event racks are ideal for festivals or sporting events.

"Bike shelters are popular with cities/municipalities, college campuses and occasionally business parks," said Ben Hovland, marketing specialist with a Minnesota-based designer and manufacturer of bike storage solutions. "For cities, bike shelters are common at transit hubs, because they offer secure, long-term bike storage for commuters who often rely on bicycling for first- and last-mile connections." Hovland mentions multi-housing complexes and large tech companies with corporate campuses as other entities utilizing shelters.

And who might be utilizing the indoor bike storage rooms? "These are required in a growing number of cities by code and demand," said Hovland. "Certain cities are reviewing code to allow certain multi-family housing units to allow construction without car parking and only bicycle parking. We're seeing a resurgence in older facilities looking to offer these amenities by repurposing basements or tennis courts. High-density locations and around colleges/universities tend to have the densest capacity for bike rooms."

Expanding Bike Infrastructure

So, in general, are cities becoming more accommodating when it comes to bike lanes, trails and parking?

"No question that bike lanes and street markings are increasing all the time," said Cohen. "Larger cities with more progressive and better-funded transportation departments are more likely to invest in bike infrastructure. However, street/sidewalk bike parking is limited by space."

"On-street bike parking, often referred to as Bike Corrals, are definitely becoming more popular," said Hovland. "In the space it takes to park a car, you can fit up to a dozen bicycles. That's potentially 12 users replacing a single-occupancy vehicle. This offers substantial benefits for businesses to increase visits in high-density areas."

Brown is pleased to see that Denver is actively progressing their bicycle infrastructure. "We support the bicycle community, and the trail system is expanding as well as the bike lanes. We have bicycle education courses for kids and have a lot of bicycle advocacies in the city that are promoting bikes. Part of our game plan is connectivity, and connecting the city through bicycles is on the list."

"We've definitely seen an increase in demand for all types of bike parks over the last several years, and demand does not seem to be slowing," said Hunter. He points out that there are many studies touting the benefits of cycling, from the positive effect that biking to school has on test scores to how bike-friendly communities help companies attract new talent.

"There's no doubt that communities who invest in biking infrastructure reap a compounded return on investment. If you search 'Best places to live'…you'll notice mentions of cycling and trails that exist in the communities that rank at the top." RM