Bike Rack News: Beacon Hill grocery gets corral + Sportworks profiled + Biz owner still waiting

There’s lots of bike parking news floating around Seattle this week. Here’s a look at some of the happenings around town:

Beacon Hill Red Apple creates bike corral in prime parking spot

Photo from Dylan Ahearn

I first heard of Beacon BIKES’ mission to get bike parking at the Red Apple about two years ago. After lots of urging and discussions with the Red Apple and the merchants association, their persistence has paid off. There is now a sweet cargo-bike-friendly bike corral in one of the grocery store’s parking spaces.

From Dylan Ahearn at Beacon BIKES:

It is the small things that count.

After months of persistent effort, hours of off-the-cuff design work, and even construction management, our own Ryan Harrison has, with the gracious support of our friends at the Beacon Merchants Association and Red Apple, succeeded in shepherding the construction of a sweet new bike coral at Red Apple.  As you can see from the attached photo we are jumping for joy up on Beacon Hill.

Way to go Ryan for all the hard work, the Beacon Merchants Association for supplying a $500 grant, and Red Apple for footing the rest of the bill.

Bike corrals like this should be standard at all Seattle grocery stores and commercial areas, but it takes the hard work of people like the folks at Beacon BIKES to get the ball rolling. Hopefully, once other Beacon Hill businesses see the success of the Red Apple corral, they might want one, too.

City bike rack can’t come soon enough for El Portal owner

Every day, Ignacio B Ventura, owner of the new Veracruz-style coffee shop El Portal at 23rd and Madison, watches his biking customers struggle to find a good place to lock their bikes before stopping by for a cup of his home-roasted brew. He put in a request for a bike rack from the city when he first opened in June, but still no rack. He is even willing to have one fabricated on his own dime if need be, but the process for that is not very easy. From a recent follow-up email he sent to the city (and forwarded to SBB):

My name is Ignacio B Ventura, I’m the owner of El Portal Coffee Roasters, located at 2310 E Madison St, in the Central District of Seattle; I’ll like to have the opportunity to install a bike rack in front of my coffee shop (side Walk) for my customers, some of them struggle to park their bicycles and come in, to enjoy a cup of coffee. Which are the restrictions (if any) and what is he process to follow? please let me know what I can do to have the rack installed, do I need to fabricate one, or the city provides their own?

This is, unfortunately, normal. Strained budgets for bike parking mean long wait lists for businesses. The city’s permitting process is a little backwards, and businesses would actually be charged a fee for sidewalk use if they wanted to install a rack on their own outside the bike parking parking program. So the advice is always to just wait.

But that’s not good enough. The space El Portal is now has seen a host of businesses come and go. It’s a difficult location, too far west to get the Madison Valley foot traffic and surrounded by unpleasant busy streets (the bar on the corner is called The Bottleneck for a reason). A business’s most difficult time is when it first starts, and bike parking is a very easy way to help a business attract and keep the regular customers they need while also encouraging more cycling.

Sportworks profiled in the Times

You may not know the Sportworks name, but you have used their products. The Woodinville-based company created the first bike racks used on King County Metro buses back in the early 90s (King County was the first to install them on a whole transit system, which is now standard). Since then, the company has grown to be top bike rack makers for transit, and they are now moving into the street bike rack arena with their robber-lined scratch-free bike racks and a new angled design that could prevent handlebar wrangling.

From the Times:

Within several weeks, the company will begin testing its reinvention of mass parking for bikes — a new design that uses angle-parking.

“The company is more focused on bike infrastructure,” business-development manager Al Steiner said. “Our overall goal is to promote bicycle use in general, not just bike racks or bicycle components.”

The new angle-park design is intended to keep bicycle handlebars away from each other. As riders know, intertwining handlebars are a common problem with racks.

The design will be tested on the University of Washington campus near Bagley Hall and Seattle Children’s hospital, Sportworks management said.

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7 Responses to Bike Rack News: Beacon Hill grocery gets corral + Sportworks profiled + Biz owner still waiting

  1. Matthew says:

    Sort of combining two threads here:

    I wonder if we could apply something like the “1% for art” model to bike parking. Something like “5% for racks” — for every $100 spent on car parking spaces as part of new construction projects or re-zoning, $5 has to go to providing bike parking, through the installation of racks or corrals or something along those lines. I just made up that 5% number, but I think it illustrates the point.

    It’s a problem along many retail corridors. The lack of bike parking along Ballard Ave is a problem for the many new businesses that have opened up in the past year or two. The sidewalks are already narrow; adding more sidewalk bike racks is not really the best solution. Why not carve out 5% of the parking spaces for bike corrals?

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      There actually are bike parking requirements for new developments. However, that doesn’t really help a street like Ballard Ave where so many of the buildings are old. Ballard Ave obviously just needs 2 or 3 bike parking corrals on-street. It’s an absolute no-brainer.

  2. rider says:

    I’ve tried several times to bring this to the attention of one Puget Sound retailer who you would think would listen. PCC.

    When I asked PCC in West Seattle about creating some bike parking, they just point to the little rack out by the sidewalk and state that it’s a City of Seattle issue.

    The new Admiral Safeway which is hardly a real progressive institution, has created adequate bike parking on their property.

    Shame on PCC.

  3. DrGeoduck says:

    And, amazingly, in the comment thread from the Times article, the most blatantly anti-bike comments are also the most downvoted. Never thought I’d see the day when that would happen.

  4. merlin says:

    I was biking by Cafe Presse on 12th by Seattle U the other day. There’s a bike corral in front of the cafe, taking up one space formerly used as a car parking space. Six car parking spaces remain in that block. There were 6 bikes in the corral, and two more bikes in a nearby sidewalk bike rack. The single parking space used by bikes served as many customers as all the other parking spots on the block combined. And there was still room for 6 more bikes. To park a car, you would have had to go to another block. And even when full, the bike corral doesn’t block the view of the cafe. Sure sounds like a win to me.

  5. Joseph Singer says:

    All I can say about Sportworks is that the design they made for the three bike carriers that have been on all KC Metro buses have been a real failure. They’re terribly difficult to use and often times if you’re the first person to use the rack the first position (outermost position) is unusable. For the first time today I rode a bus with evidently what is the new design and it work 100% better. I don’t know if this means that KC Metro will replace all current 3-position racks or whether I just got one of the new racks. I’m not sure if the problem with the 3-position racks is that they had a crappy design (probably) or the fact that the racks were never maintained.

  6. merlin says:

    I went by Elliott Bay Books today and asked them if they’d considered a bike corral. The bike racks in front of the store were all over-filled, and there was an empty car-parking space right in front. One of the clerks told me they were “on the list” to get a corral but “we’ll never get there.” Does anybody know about the “list” for bike corrals, the process for getting one, and the length of the wait? We have a long ways to go to catch up with Portland!!

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