Tim and I have blogged about bike parking many times. You could say we’re into our bike parking.
Having access to a convenient bike parking spot is the key to using bikes as everyday transportation.
One of the main reasons we have embraced getting around on bikes is the simplicity and ease of parking a bike. No other “alternative transportation” option beats pedaling to the local store, pulling right up to the front door, pulling out a U-lock, locking your bike and walking into the shop. You can’t do that in a car, ever. And the bus…um….
As we’ve said before, we appreciate a nice rack.
Aesthetically pleasing racks add so much to the street ambiance. I love the artistic and whimsical racks. They seem to say, “not only am I practical and utilitarian, I’m also fun and pleasing to the eye, so use me or just stop and admire me for a bit”. They invite people to linger on the sidewalk.
We were in Portland last fall and experienced how on-street bike parking can change a street scene. This on-street parking in front of the downtown Stumptown does a great job of separating the street from the sidewalk. It creates a nice buffer from the car traffic and makes the outdoor seating in front of the coffee shop much more pleasant.
For all of these reasons, I was so happy to hear that Seattle had introduced on-street bike parking.
I was really looking forward to checking it out. But then I read a conflicting report.
Were these projects connected? Not possible. The bike rack on 12th was useful and easy on the eyes, the bike parking on Broadway was clunky, not practical and just plain ugly.
I had to see for myself so I pedaled over to Capitol Hill on a sunny day to check it out. The parking in front of Stumptown was just as I had expected—quirky, inviting and fun. Similar to the Portland parking, it did a nice job of creating a buffer from the street and made the outdoor cafe seating much more pleasant.
At first glance the fact that it was shaped like a car seemed oxymoronic. But the more I thought about it, the car-shape actually made sense. The car-shaped rack accentuated the benefit of replacing one car parking spot with parking for 12+ bikes.
After enjoying my double macchiato and squash bread at Stumptown, I was on to check out the parking on Broadway and Greenlake. I had seen a picture of the Broadway parking and was prepared to be unimpressed. However, I’m an optimist and thought, just maybe, the photo I’d seen was taken before the real rack was completed and installed.
I was wrong, so wrong.
The sad excuse for on-street parking was still there. There’s no other way to say it, it’s just plain ugly. And not at all practical. Why are the racks oriented horizontally to the sidewalk? Why didn’t they orient them the other way so more bikes would fit in the corral? What’s up with the white, clunky-middle-of-the-road-median barriers? Were those left over from some other project and sitting in a warehouse waiting to be used? Maybe this corral was temporary? Maybe their car-shaped rack is on order?
The Greenlake parking is just like the parking on Broadway. But even worse, it’s plopped down right on the corner of Woodlawn Ave NE and NE 70th St just waiting to be plowed over by a distracted driver. The building it serves has a lovely courtyard out front with outside seating for the restaurant it serves. Why didn’t the city place the rack directly in front of the outside seating, just two “car spaces” to the North? It would have been perfect there. Instead, it’s on the corner where the bikes will be vulnerable to on-coming car traffic in two directions.
I emailed the Pedestrian & Bicycle Program representative from the Seattle Department of Transportation and asked for more information but I haven’t heard back.
Does anyone out there know if the parking on Broadway and Greenlake is there for good? If you know, please post a comment. I’ll check back with the city and update this post if I hear anything.
If anyone cares to share insights on bike parking in Seattle, the email address for feedback is firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a good day!
post updated April 1, 2009 with more photos.