On-Street Bike Corrals: a Chance to Hand PDX’s Ass to Them on a Silver Platter. Again.

So, Walkscore quantitatively ranked Mpls #1 in bikeablity a while back. I also learned that in Cbus, my hometown, that $300,000 was spent on ten bike shelters before debuting the city’s first on-street bike corral. It didn’t take much research to find that other cities like Cincinnati had spent as little as $1000 for a bike corral. If Columbus had spent that same amount of money on bike corrals in lieu of ten fancy covered bike shelters now on the sidewalks, it would be receiving national recognition for having more than three times as much on-street bike parking than Portland, which has a current total of 85 locations. Needless to say, Mpls would likewise have been left in the dust: we maybe have a few? I’m familiar with one next to Birchwood Cafe and I hear there’s another one off the Cedar Lake Trail in that weird area of Downtown in the vicinity of Lee’s Liquor Lounge (gets my stamp of approval, but you might want to drink a couple elsewhere before paying $4 per tallboy, just FYI), but is there even a third?

Anyway, here’s my point: on-street bike corrals are dirt cheap and at the same time communicate a highly valuable message, especially on roads without bike facilities, that bikes are road vehicles.  By addressing the social acceptability factor with such clear visuals this will cause the average motorist to associate bikes with roads, instead of bikes with sidewalks. When you think about it, where do you see virtually all bikes parked? On sidewalks, which certainly affects a motorist’s perception of where bikes belong. After all, they’re all parked on sidewalks and it doesn’t take much of a stretch to see why motorists approach cyclists on some streets with the understanding that there’s a preference for them since cars are valued highly enough to warrant on-street parking. Bikes? Not so much.

In addition to the powerful visual they provide there are numerous reasons for business districts and nodes to support the removal of one car space for a bike corral that can accommodate many times more customers per spot. Minneapolis could, for a rather small price tag catch up with PDX, but why settle there when for $300,000, the amount a city in the middle of Ohio was willing to spend on bike parking in one year, we can spend the same much more wisely and shoot way ahead of the competition and be the first to see how much of a positive impact a critical mass of on-street bike parking will have on the city. Sounds perfectly doable to me.

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