Marc Lefkowitz | 05/26/09 @ 9:07am
Cleveland will invest (as it did in the Euclid Corridor bike lanes) in biking as a legitimate form of transportation when it builds its first bike parking station slated to go into the groundfloor of a parking garage in the Gateway District. Coming this fall, expect to bike to a Cavs or Indians game, to your favorite E. 4th Street restaurant or to work and lock up either for free in one of the 10 spots outside or, for a monthly fee, inside a 24-hour secured building. Members will have access to showers, changing rooms, lockers and even a small repair shop staffed by a mechanic.
While the bike parking station will have racks for 38 bikes, it's imaginable that space will be snatched up by commuters, downtown residents, and sports fans. It's not so farfetched to imagine the downtown bike station already filled to capacity before it's even built.
"These bike station spaces should not be camped on, to the disadvantage of those riding daily," says Kevin Cronin of bike advocacy group ClevelandBikes. "Like Chicago, we probably would devise some plan that rescinds a pass that is not used. There is a difference between a bike station and a building's storage need. Euclid Avenue developers have indicated they would like some facility to get bikes out of lobbies and elevators. That's a storage need different from a bike station, with regard to both frequency of access and showers.
The city has adopted a parking requirement that parking lots, when they are being built or approved, will have to set aside some area for bike parking.
We have always had a work plan that included a map of all bike parking racks in the downtown area (we would not include parking meters or other obvious street furniture that can be used for bike parking)."
Let's take this opportunity to think ahead to a day when thousands of people are biking to work in Cleveland. Where and how should we build on the important milestone of the Gateway bike parking station: Do we need a second and third downtown bike station, or will the city's new requirement that all parking garages swap a spot for cars and install a bike rack meet the needs of even a modest 1% shift of the 120,000 downtown commuters to bicycles?
Consider the question in the context of the region's long-range plans for transportation investment. We are incorporating climate action goals in NOACA's long-range plan. The next logical step is specific carbon reduction strategies such as offsetting Vehicle Miles Traveled by "X" percent. One way we reduce greenhouse gasses is to take cars off of the road. Investing in bicycling infrastructure can help. One path is to leverage infrastructure dollars flowing into the region. For example, when RTA builds its new Eastside Transfer Station at E. 21st Street and Prospect, the transit agency plans to provide bike racks.
What other ways can we take bike parking to scale in Cleveland? ClevelandBikes and the city of Cleveland are to be commended for the vision and follow through needed to pursue planning and eventually funding the construction of Gateway bike parking station ? but is it enough? Shouldn't we start considering how to shift 1% of trips made by car today to bikes? If 120,000 people commute to downtown Cleveland for work, that means we will need 1,200 bike parking spaces downtown. How will we get there from here?
It is noteworthy that the Gateway bike parking station is modeled after nonprofit group bikestation.org, which has built some really cool little bike parking stations in California. Bikestation's business model is to do the heavy lifting for agencies and organizations in the planning, development and implementation of bike-transit related projects. The agencies (like RTA) could issue bonds for construction and sponsor the operator of the bike station.
Bikestation.org serves as an information-clearinghouse and support system to the individual operators that are responsible for the day-to-day operations of each facility. Local operators vary per location and consist of non-profit, for-profit and advocacy organizations. This may prove to be effective in taking bike parking to scale. Another avenue is enforcing the new bike parking regulation that the city passed last year that mandates all parking garages to install bike racks (not as secure, but it would gain greater coverage).