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Lake City’s Kaffeeklatsch wants to keep unpermitted art bike rack

From the Kaffeeklatsch Facebook page

Lacking any place for customers to lock their bikes, Lake City’s Kaffeeklatsch coffee shop asked the city for a bike rack. However, as we reported one year ago, the city’s bike parking program was put on hold due to budget concerns.

With a need for bike parking and no help from the city in sight, the shop commissioned the Central District-based youth arts program Coyote Central to create a portable bike rack that they could wheel inside at night. The one-of-a-kind rack features old bicycle forks and handlebars and has helped the business attract bike-riding (and skiing) customers ever since they started wheeling it out in front of their shop.

But there’s one problem: It doesn’t meet ADA and fire requirements, and the city wants it removed. SDOT has offered to install a bike rack from their reinstated bike parking budget ($186,000 for 2012), but the Kaffeeklatsch owners have grown attached to their unique rack and don’t want it to go.

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From the Seattle PI:

During the snow storm, the rack served as a space for skiis

The Kaffeeklatsch rack is too wide for the sidewalk location even without bikes. City code requires at least 3 feet in the pedestrian visual corridor and a 5-foot pedestrian zone.

Rick Sheridan, spokesman for the Seattle Department of Transportation that enforces sidewalk requirements, said he knows the project was well intentioned, but projects need to be permitted.

“That’s done to ensure safety,” he said. “It’s too close to the fire hydrant and creates a hazard for the disabled and for the fire department.”

In determining where the 300 bike racks will go – with the $618 cost for each paid for by the Department of Transportation budget – the city listens to requests from neighbors and business owners. The request from Kaffeeklatsch staff in 2011 was what put that location on the city’s list for when additional money could be spent for bike racks.

“I paid $400 for my bike rack and I’m not going to get rid of it,” said Heide-Jessen, whose son on Tuesday setup a Save the Kaffeeklatsch Bike Rack Facebook page. “It’s not really in the way of anything.”

Bike parking should never impede walking and accessibility, and the city’s codes requiring clear walking space on sidewalks exist for an important reason. Much of the cost of installing bike parking is due to city staff time spent figuring out locations for the racks so that they do not impede space needed for maintaining accessibility and for emergency response.

A city-installed on-street bike rack in Fremont/Wallingford

This is why on-street bike parking is such a great option for expanding the city’s bike parking space. For the space of one parked car, you can fit something like 15 bikes (depending on the rack). At the same time, it makes the storefronts behind the rack more visible from the street by making sure no large cars are parked in front of it.

What if the city simply marks off a single parking space in front of Kaffeeklatsch and permanently moves the art rack into that space? The city would save money by avoiding the cost of a rack, and the coffee shop would get to keep the rack it needs and keep the sidewalks wide open and accessible. Could be a win-win-win.

Looks like the folks at Cascade are on the same page:

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10 responses to “Lake City’s Kaffeeklatsch wants to keep unpermitted art bike rack”

  1. biliruben


    There are always multiple spots open on that stretch (though perhaps not for long with Elliot Bay opening it’s doors last wee), and the loss of one would be a gain for the community, and savings for the city.

  2. Hey, I took that top picture! I keep meaning to make it back and park at that awesome rack (it was cold and rainy the day we rode by on the way to the bus home).

    By the way, I’m glad you tweeted the picture of the PCC bike rack on Sunday–I’d only thought of on-street bike parking in the form of big expensive (I’m assuming) bike corrals. Moving an existing rack to the street is a wonderful plan.

  3. Mondoman

    I agree, an onstreet location for this sounds good, unless there’s some other hidden issue we don’t know about. I’m disappointed that the city seems to be punishing a small local business for its creativity and private investment in an amenity that helps make biking more practical for day-to-day errands.

  4. Mondoman

    PS — looks like the art rack might only take up one of those silly little motorcycle parking spots SDOT has been introducing in recent years, or half a car spot with room leftover for a motorcycle spot.

  5. RTK

    But it doesn’t meet fire requirements. That thing looks like it could go up in flames at any second. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …

  6. Jeff

    That is a pretty miserable bike rack from an anti-theft perspective. Because there are no central loops, it doesnt look reasonable to secure a typical bike properly to any part of the rack aside from its ends.

    And the pointy fork ends are just waiting to tweak spokes and scratch paint.

    May as well let the city install something functional that doesn’t disappear at the end of Kaffeeklatch’s workday.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I would assume they’d bolt it to the ground if they move it to the street.

      1. Gary

        It’s not the rack I’m worried about them stealing, it’s my bike. I need a spot where I can loop the rear tire, the frame and thing I’m locking to all inside my U lock. The front wheel gets only a cable but the rear is where the value is.

        Bolting my bike to the street just isn’t going to work for me.

  7. Gary

    The other problem with this rack being moved to the street, is that if you use it so that the bikes are parked from the sidewalk side, then those cool handlebars are now sticking out into the bike lane, youch! if you hit one.

  8. Biliruben

    Bike lane? We dont have no stinking bike lane.

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