Bicycles corral more downtown parking

Victoria has been adding about 10 spaces a year for cyclists over the past five years

Published September 4, 2007 by Victoria Times Colonist 
Carolyn Heiman

Victoria has been adding about 10 spaces a year for cyclists over the past five years

Bicycles are snagging a little more of their share of the road with projects that eliminate vehicle parking in favour of two-wheelers.

A $20,000 covered bike shelter on Government Street in front of Mountain Equipment Co-op now offers parking

for 23 bicycles. A vehicle parking spot was taken out to accommodate the shelter.

It's an approach Shane Devereaux of Habit coffee & culture on Pandora Avenue would like to see more of in the city.

He persuaded businesses in the 500-block of Pandora to sign a petition asking the city to install an on-street bicycle corral in one of the street's vehicle parking spots.

As many as 20 bicycle owners vie for six or seven spots, such as tree trunks or lamp posts, where they can lock their bikes. It would also cut down on the sidewalk clutter, Devereaux said.

"Unless your head is in the sand, we need to look at ways to get people out of vehicles," Devereaux said.

Steve Hutchison, Victoria's traffic technologist, said it's likely the city would support the corral-style bike parking if businesses in the area are in agreement.

He estimated the cost of the on-street bike parking would be in the $2,000-to-$3,000 range and modelled after a design used in Portland, Ore.

The city's policy currently asks for business owners to share the cost of installing bicycle parking, and Devereaux said he wants to work to change that.

"It shouldn't cost us money to request bicycle parking."

Under the policies, businesses can ask the city to install inverted U-rack bicycle lockups along sidewalks, but in some areas the sidewalk isn't large enough, Hutchison said.

The city has added about 10 bicycle parking spots a year over the last five years.

As well, in 2005 the city council passed a bylaw requiring developers to include bicycle parking in their projects.

Victoria Coun. Geoff Young, who sits on both the bicycle and transportation committees of council, isn't concerned that vehicle owners will complain about losing the parking spots.

"It makes more sense to have 16 bicycles parked than one automobile," Young said, adding there are few streets where bicycle parking is in such short supply that corrals would be the only option.

We do not have "a lot of complaints from automobile users about parking stalls in general," he said.

"We do have discussions with business owners, some of whom have views about what the parking should be near their businesses. Sometimes, they want to park there themselves so they can dash into their businesses. It is surprising how often they feel that. We try to suggest that they should park in parkades and leave the spots for shoppers."