On Two Wheels

Brett Wood

I just spent a month in Key West, soaking up some fun and sun. You know what I figured out on day one? Parking was a pain in the you-know-what!

On day two, I dusted off a Schwinn cruiser in the storage shed in the backyard and became a bike advocate. The whole island opened up and the world was my oyster. Parking was a breeze—no payment required and normally I could drive right up to my destination and find a bike rack waiting for my two-wheeled stallion.

Bike parking is often an overlooked component of our industry, but it’s one that’s becoming increasingly popular and important. In a recent study we completed for the City of Tempe, Ariz., bike parking was front and center. Where do you put it? Who does it serve? Who maintains it? The answer is not as cut-and-dry as putting in a bike rack and calling it a day. It is imperative that the business community and the municipality work together to implement bike parking that complements the transportation network, promotes safe riding conditions, and provides mutual benefits to parkers, cyclists, businesses, and the community as a whole. Easy right?

Well, take a look at Fort Collins, Colo. There, industry leaders partnered with local businesses to achieve a common goal of promoting bicycle ridership. New Belgium Brewery, which started as a mom-and-pop brewery and has grown to national fame, sponsors portions of the bike parking program, providing racks for on-street bike parking and partnering with the city for educational campaigns. Their Tour de Fat campaign has expanded exponentially and is now in 10 cities across the U.S., providing bike riding education and promotion. And the city does its part by properly planning for bike parking needs, taking bike counts (similar to vehicular occupancy counts) and assessing bike demands in certain locations, and communicating with business owners about providing appropriate bike parking.

These types of partnerships actively promote bike riding and its importance in the fabric of our communities (Check out the September issue of The Parking Professional to learn what Yale’s bikeshare program did for that area). Before dismissing bike parking as an unnecessary component of your system, take the time to understand your community and the positive effect it might have on the social, economic, health, and congestion components of your society.

Celebrate: Bikes in Parking Lots

Look for lots of bicycle commuters today–it’s Bike to Work Day (BTWD). This annual special event is part of National Bike Month, which was started by the League of American Bicyclists (http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth) in 1956 and is observed each May.

BTWD is celebrated in many areas with special events designed to get commuters more aware of and comfortable with pedaling as a viable alternative to driving. For many local commuter assistance and mobility management programs, BTWD also serves as a great opportunity to recognize local leaders who have been (or could be) champions of bicycle commuting and hold public conversations about bike lanes, safety, and related issues.

Bikes play an increasingly visible and important role in today’s mobility mix. You might notice your bike parking facilities being much more heavily used on BTWD, particularly by folks who are trying cycling as a commute mode for the first time. After what was an unusually harsh winter for much of the U.S., would-be bicycle commuters might also use BTWD as a chance to team up with other cyclists, celebrate spring, and enjoy a change of pace.

This day presents an opportunity to engage with a niche audience that will use the quality of its BTWD experience as the basis for deciding whether biking to work is just a nice springtime event or the beginning of a realistic, long-term change in personal commute habits.

Get Your Bike On!

J.C. Porter

Tomorrow, May 18th is Bike to Work Day and you may be asking yourself one question: “Do I have to wear Spandex to ride my bike to work?” The quick answer is no, not unless you really want to! Commuting by bike should be easy, but we like to make excuses such as, “I can’t commute by bike because I don’t have a carbon fiber bike,” or, “I have to buy all new clothes to ride my bike.”

I’ll help lead an International Parking Institute (IPI) webinar next month on making your parking facility bike-ready. Until then, here are a few tips for bike commuting to help everyone get started:

1. Use what you have. Everyone either has a bike in their garage or knows someone who has a bike they can borrow.

2. If the bike has not been ridden in awhile, make sure it is in good working order before you set off. Complete the ABCs to ensure a bike is road-ready:

A: Check to make sure the tires have the proper amount of Air in them.
B: Check the Brakes for slowing down as well as stopping distance.
C: Gauge the Chain to make sure it is well oiled and will shift properly.

3. Wear the clothes you have. Most people just commute in their work clothes. As long as you take it easy and do not pretend you are competing in the Tour De France, you should be okay.

4. Use Map My Ride or another route-finding technology to find a bike route from your home to work. Keep in mind you most likely will not use the same route that you would in your car. Practice your new route ahead of time so you are comfortable with it and can identify any potential surprises that may arise.

Enjoy the ride to and from work, as it is a great stress reliever to the start and end of your work day. Remember, coffee cup holders are available for most bikes!

4 Ways to Welcome Cyclists

J.C. Porter

Bicycling is receiving a lot of attention in the parking world, and for good reason: it’s healthy, it’s environmentally-friendly, and it helps alleviate car congestion. There are four easy ways to create an inviting bike environment for businesses, cities, and universities:

  1. A little paint goes a long way to help increase the visibility of cyclists and your efforts to promote bicycling. Sharrows, a street marking to indicate a shared-lane (from a combination of the words share and arrow), are easy to paint and save space over traditional bike lanes, as they are meant to be used by both bikes and automobiles.
  2. There are several different types of bike racks that can work for different types of spaces. An inverted U is the most common type of bike rack; this works best for cyclists and is also attractive. Space savers can be used in areas such as underneath stair wells or unused portions under garage ramps. And finally, cycle stalls are multi-space bike racks that are placed on the street. These allow for better access on the sidewalks and, if placed strategically such as near crosswalks, can create better sight lines for both pedestrians and motorists.
  3. A fix-it station is an easy addition to any location. This provides a place for riders to use an attached pump or other tools to keep their bike running.
  4. Joining forces with bicycle-related organizations is a great way to receive recognition for additions and improvements you take on. These organizations will help promote your business, city, state, university, or hospital’s efforts to encourage cycling. Small investments in time and money will go a long way in helping to promote your organization.

Have you encouraged your customers to commute by bike? Let us know in the comments.