Bike Parking: A Modest Proposal


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On September 29th, 2009, Alissa Walker and GOOD Magazine put on an event called <a>GOOD Design SF</a> at SPUR’s new Urban Center, as part of AIA SF’s month-long Architecture and the City festival. Stamen was asked to propose strategies for the implementation of better bicycle parking to the SF's Municipal Transit Authority. Check out <a>my blog post</a> if you'd like to know more about the topic.

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Bike Parking: A Modest Proposal

  1. 1. stamen Bike Parking Solutions for SFMTA a modest proposal 1
  2. 2. Bike parking Whatʼs the big deal? 2 We see shiny, happy people riding their bikes all over the city these days. Cycling in San Francisco was up 43% between 2006 and 2008, which is fantastic. But that’s without (barely) any improvements since the injunction! We could do so much better. Here are the three primary issues we identified that need to be addressed...
  3. 3. Capacity Bikes take up space. Space is at a premium. photo by frenchthread on Flickr: 3 If you’ve spent any time on Valencia on a Friday night, you know what I’m talking about. Bikes are locked to everything in sight. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but wayward bikes can pose hazards to pedestrians and motorists. The problem is only going to get worse if ridership increases, which we all hope that it does.
  4. 4. Security Bike theft sucks. photo by garageowns on Flickr: 4 If you’ve owned a bike in any city, you’ve most likely experienced some sort of theft. Education can combat bad locking habits, but the city ultimately has to provide secure facilities. We can learn from other cities’ successes (New York CityRacks competition) and failures (Toronto’s “post and ring” scandal).
  5. 5. Convenience Parking a bike shouldnʼt be a pain in the ass. photo by jamesbondsv on Flickr: 5 Most importantly, parking facilities need to be located as close to the street as possible. People aren’t going to use them if they need to walk their bikes through alleys, carry them up stairs, or put them into elevators. This bike rack outside of a Home Depot in Chicago is a perfect example of what not to do.
  6. 6. Technology to the rescue...? 6
  7. 7. Automated systems Imagine: Storing bikes underground! Solar-powered “bike trees”! They could use RFID, swipe cards, and TransLink! 7 One Japanese company builds systems that store 9,000 bikes in an underground cylinder, and can retrieve them in 17 seconds. Above-ground systems like bike trees store bikes overhead, and some employ advanced technologies like RFID.
  8. 8. But... Do we really need fancy, expensive infrastructure? 8 We gave many of these some consideration in our research, but they all struck us as a bit too, well, mechanical. Oh, and they’re expensive!
  9. 9. Not yet. First, we need (for back of a better term) critical mass. 9
  10. 10. In the near term... We can do a lot right now, and on the cheap. 10
  11. 11. Improve street-side parking. 11 Why? • sidewalk space is at a premium • planning code’s regulations stipulate minimum curb set-backs further limiting availability • increasing the visibility of bikes on streets raises awareness, drives adoption thru “incidental advocacy”
  12. 12. Bike corrals! Automobile space co-opted for bicycle use. photo by jehvicvbc on Flickr: 12 Bike corrals are dedicated street parking for cyclists. This one is on Stark Street in Portland. Some European cities have similar facilities, but they tend not to have any racks because most of their bikes have integrated locks and kickstands. San Francisco does have its own...
  13. 13. SF Main Library Bollards: yes! Big, circular racks: yes! More of these, please. photo by sfbike on Flickr: 13 And it actually improves upon the Portland ones in several important ways: • Bollards provide protection from passing cars, and create a permeable “barrier” around the space. • These circular racks are actually a lot easier to use
  14. 14. Convenience Street-side facilities provide rock star parking. photo by on Flickr: 14 Drivers coined this the term because it’s so rare to score a street parking spot right in front of wherever you’re going. Installing corrals in front of key commercial centers has the potential to drastically improve business for restaurants and merchants. There’s also a social aspect to having everyone lock up in the same place. Dedicated street parking makes cyclists feel special.
  15. 15. Capacity 1 car parking space can fit at least 19 bikes. Weʼll need more eventually, though. photo by Canadian Veggie on Flickr: 15 Dedicated street parking also solves the capacity issue. Without any fancy elevator or lift systems, a single parking space can fit 19 bikes. We could double that later with stacked racks, like what the Danes have done here. 320,000 on-street parking spaces / ~12,000 road segments = 26 spaces/block on both sides. Taking a single car space for bikes more than doubles the bike parking capacity on one side.
  16. 16. Gimme shelter. (It rains a lot here in the winter.) photo by animalvegetable on Flickr: 16 We could make the lives of the San Francisco winter cyclist a little nicer by providing some protection from the elements. This one in Brooklyn is kind of lame, but you get the idea.
  17. 17. Let there be light. Because sometimes itʼs really hard to unlock your bike when itʼs dark out. photo by l_yudia on Flickr: 17
  18. 18. Where? Everywhere! Okay, we have some more specific suggestions... 18
  19. 19. We made maps. 19 This is what we do at Stamen.
  20. 20. Street grades (thin: bad; thick: good): 20 Here’s the street grid, with line widths inversely proportional to the slope of the street. In other words: Thick lines are easily bikeable; thin ones are not.
  21. 21. The existing bike network: 21 This is a map of the existing bike network, with dedicated lanes, or “class 2” facilities, in thick lines. The rest of the network is comprised of sharrows and wide curb lanes.
  22. 22. TEPʼs designated rapid Muni lines: 22 This is the Transit Effectiveness Project’s designated “rapid” Muni lines, including the Muni Metro LRV system.
  23. 23. Bike network + accessible roads + rapid MUNI: 23 Here they are overlaid on top of one another using subtractive blending. Black lines are locations where all three systems overlap.
  24. 24. 24 Judging just from the intersections of these three data sets, one might conclude that Market Street, Potrero, and Bayshore were the best places for parking that caters to cyclists and transit users.
  25. 25. 25 However, the paltry bike counts along Potrero and, presumably, southward indicate that there may not be enough cyclists there to justify additional infrastructure... yet. We desperately need to bridge the very real gap between these areas of town so that the cycling can become a reality for people in Bayview, Hunter’s Point, Visitacion Valley, and Ocean View and Lakeshore to the west.
  26. 26. ? ? 26 More data is clearly needed, though, to make logical decisions about the prioritization of new and/or better parking infrastructure.
  27. 27. Hereʼs our suggestion: 27 But ideally, we would just do it everywhere.
  28. 28. Just to recap: Bike corrals. Lots of ʻem. 28
  29. 29. Organically grow long-term parking facilities. 29 Why? • Reduce the potential for cyclists being (or even feeling) restricted by distance or topology • Integrated transit systems with cycling connections (particularly bike share) service residents, commuters, and tourists alike.
  30. 30. Convenience Large-scale, long-term parking helps people take their bikes on more “serious” trips: commuting, shopping, and long-distance travel. photo by Daniel Sparing on Flickr: 30
  31. 31. Security Thereʼs safety in numbers. Having a guard helps, too. photo by JOE M500 on Flickr: 31
  32. 32. Bike lockers! Long-term, secure, space-efficient storage for bikes and accessories. bike lockers in Beilen, Netherlands courtesy of: 32
  33. 33. We have 31. In the entire city. We need lots more. photos courtesy of SFMTA: 33 But we can grow these organically. As the need for bicycle parking increases, the need for automobile parking will decrease.
  34. 34. Incentivize, or mandate? We could encourage private garages and residential developments with tax incentives. Or we could follow New Yorkʼs lead. photo by Thomas Hawk on Flickr: 34 Private garages could be encouraged to make additional bike parking available through tax incentives... Or we could just require them to provide a certain number of bike spaces, like New York has.
  35. 35. Beware, though: Tying bike parking to car parking is not a permanent solution. 35 If we think of bike parking as a fixed share of existing car space, we may find ourselves unable to add bike parking without having to add car parking as well.
  36. 36. In the future... Weʼll need to go a bit further. 36 The increase in bike ridership is certainly worth celebrating, but we’re just getting started. Remember: those gains were gotten during the injunction!
  37. 37. Devalue the bicycle. 37 This doesn’t have much to do with parking, but we think it would really help the situation. We need to drastically lower the cost of entry to cycling in the city if we want more people to adopt it as a primary means of transportation.
  38. 38. Security What if we stopped caring about our bikes so much? photo by Roby on Flickr: 38 There’s something really nice about having a crappy bike. It means not worrying about it getting wet or dirty, or having to keep it clean all the time. You can’t go very fast, which tends to result in much safer (and courteous) riding habits. And it means not really caring so much when your bike is stolen. Removing the requirement of bike ownership substantially lowers the cost of entry for “becoming a cyclist”.
  39. 39. Capacity Bike sharing means less space needed for bikes. (And more for people.) photo by LipglossJunkie on Flickr: 39
  40. 40. Bike sharing is one thing... But there might be a more interesting option: 40
  41. 41. Seed the city with beater bikes! Put a couple thousand of them on the streets and see what happens. photos by matthijs on Flickr: 41
  42. 42. Thank you! The bicycle may be too cheap, too available, too healthy, too independent and too equitable for its own good. In an age of excess it is minimal and has the subversive potential to make people happy in an economy fueled by consumer discontent. Jim McGurn, 1994 I thought of that while riding my bicycle. Albert Einstein, on the Theory of Relativity 42