In the face of budget cuts, SDOT has put the city’s bike parking program on hold and has offered it up to city leaders as a potential budget cut.
From Sam Woods at SDOT:
SDOT was required to offer cuts in our budget to make up for a significant shortfall in the city’s General Fund and transportation revenues. One of the cuts offered is to the Bike Spot program, which funds bike racks. This includes both bike racks for sidewalks and on-street bike corrals.
We don’t know yet whether the cut will be accepted at the citywide level, but until we have certainty, we are not proceeding with any further bicycle rack work. We understand that this may be disappointing, but it was one of many painful cuts SDOT was forced to offer.
Meanwhile, Commute Seattle released a study last week showing the sorry state of bike parking in the city center. Despite the fact that thousands of people commute downtown daily — a number that has grown 15 percent since 2007 — less than half of privately-owned buildings in the central business district provide bike racks. On top of that, less than half of those that do have bike parking make it available to the public (i.e. not in a secured area for use by tenants).
From the report:
- Only 9 percent of office buildings provide shower facilities
- Only 7 percent of office building provide day-use lockers
- Only 3 percent of office buildings provide bike pumps
- Less than half (44%) of bike parking is available to all bike commuters, the rest is restricted to building tenants only
- 5 percent of bike parking has no protection from weather reducing its effectiveness as year-round use
- Nearly 6 percent of bicycle racks are incorrectly sited or installed in ways that reduce the number of
parking spaces available
- Nearly 4 percent of bike parking has an inadequate level of security for commuter parking
The study not only looked at the CBD, but also neighboring downtown areas. Of those, “Capitol Hill” has by far the worst bike parking in the city center (note that the report only defines “Capitol Hill” as the part south of
Denny Mercer and West of Broadway).
The reports states that only 4 percent of commercial buildings in Capitol Hill have bike parking at all, and of that existing bike parking, only 20 percent of it got a “high” security rating. That means there are only 22 safe, quality privately-provided bike parking spaces (not racks, spaces) in the whole neighborhood according to this study.
Elly Blue recently wrote a column for Grist making the economic case for bike parking (and on-street bike parking, in particular). A study out of Melbourne found that bike parking generates more revenue in a commercial area than car parking. Business and commercial property owners should observe the constant popularity of the on-street biking corral in front of Cafe Presse and Stumptown Coffee on 12th Ave. An on-street corral is an easy way to increase a storefront’s economic viability.
Given the rising number of people riding bikes and the economic benefits associated with bicycle ridership and bike parking, it does not make much economic sense to cut the bike parking program. I asked SDOT if it is possible for property owners to subsidize the installation of city bike racks on city property near their buildings.
“If a private entity would like to fund and install a bike rack on city property, there are permitting costs associated with this work,” said Woods. Perhaps, in the face of budget cuts, the city could make it easier for property owners that want on-street bike parking corrals or bike parking on sidewalks near their buildings to subsidize the projects. But there are far too many commercial areas downtown and around the city that are sorely lacking secure bike parking options to cut the program entirely.
Here’s the full Commute Seattle bicycle amenity report: