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After community push, West Seattle is getting its first bike corral

Click to read the post from West Seattle Bike Connections
Click to read the initial post from West Seattle Bike Connections

I received a fun email from West Seattle Bike Connections this morning. After a community push to make sure a proposed bike corral actually happens in the Junction, the group announced that the city will install an on-street bike parking corral at California and Alaska.

Good job, WSBC and everyone who helped push the city to bring bike parking to this destination-packed commercial area. Here’s the note from WSBC:

The West Seattle Junction is gaining a new amenity for our community. A “bike corral” for on-street bike parking will be coming soon to California Avenue SW at SW Alaska St in the heart of the West Seattle Junction. More customers will have convenient parking without congesting the sidewalks or taking away any car parking or loading zones.

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Bikes are good for local business districts.  When we travel by bike, we shop and dine locally, instead of at malls and big boxes.  That is why Junction merchants and West Seattle Bike Connections have been working for this one for the past 18 months.

As Chair of the Transportation Committee, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen helped navigate the many layers of SDOT to avoid another year of delay. According to Rasmussen’s staff, SDOT shared the following with the Councilmember:

”We will be issuing a work order to install the bike corral at the location agreed upon by the WS Junction Association and WS Bike Connections on the SE corner on California Ave SW at SW Alaska St.

• This location is currently no parking anytime, so there is no impact to on-street parking.
• The corral would prevent right turns on red at this all-way walk so it is a safety improvement.
[right on red is already illegal here]
• This location is in the heart of the business district.
The adjacent property is currently under construction and the developer had requested that we delay installation until after the building was completed. We initially agreed, however, in light of the demand for on-street parking and bicycle parking we are moving forward with the installation. We will be working to develop a policy for temp removals due to construction.

 I don’t know the specific date of the installation, but my understanding is that the work order is underway.”

This project has the support of the West Seattle Junction Association, the Junction Neighborhood Association (JuNO), West Seattle Bike Connections and West Seattle Transportation Coalition. Of at least 25 bike corrals installed by SDOT since 2012, this will be the first in West Seattle.

We will be at Cascade Bicycle Club’s Rackathon bike parking summit today, so stay tuned for more bike parking news.

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7 responses to “After community push, West Seattle is getting its first bike corral”

  1. Matthew Snyder

    Is there a list of upcoming / planned SDOT bike corral installations? It would be nice to know what areas already have installations planned to that we can direct advocacy towards areas that aren’t already on the list.

    1. Ben P

      I would think a better strategy would be advocating for corrals where you oft experience difficulty parking your bike, regardless of whether the city has plans for the spot or not. If the spot needs a corral, the city should be informed. If the spot doesn’t really need a corral, not only would installation be a misallocation of limited resources, it would create highly visible unused bike infrastructure. Unused infrastructure initially gives the feel of government largess. As the infrastructure ages it acquires more of a abandoned dystopian feel. All things we don’t want associated with cycling. Even if advocating for something already under consideration is more likely to succeed, the goal should not be to get as much spent on cycling as possible. The goal should be to make cycling as pleasant as possible and to open the cycling experience to as many as possible.

  2. Kathy

    If you build it, they will come….these corrals have proven to be magnets to local businesses. Next one in West Seattle should be down on Alki – say across from the Bathhouse – lots of potential bike customers coming from the Alki Trail to businesses in the area and the park.

  3. I agree with Michael Snyder that we can be looking for opportunities to advocate. We can be thinking more about business districts that are under-served, un-hip, unexpected, un-thought about by the predominantly young, white, well-educated professionals in charge, because of unconscious prejudice and racism. I agree with Michael P that the installations should be in locations with real demand, and that unused bike corrals could doom the whole program. That is why we targeted West Seattle’s busiest commercial block first. But maybe it should not be where “you” experience difficulty parking, if “you” are in the target demographic of all the places on Capitol Hill or Frelard that already have bike corrals. Maybe it should be where “others not like you” experience difficulty parking. We could use more equity in where resources are applied in this city, and where bike advocacy resources are applied. The token efforts south of downtown are often in gentrifying pockets, helping to push out poor people instead of responding to what poor or disadvantaged people want to do to improve their neighborhoods.

  4. William

    Glad to see the new bike corral in West Seattle. I wish it had been better located, as the real need is near the Farmer’s Market. Plus many cyclists stay off California due to traffic and use 44th instead. A corral off of 44th or the alley behind the Junction business would have been better. Finally, why can’t we come up with a creative, attractive design for our bike corrals like other cities?!

    1. William,
      Doesn’t sound like you are so glad. Sorry. Reasons for the location: The Farmers Market is a few hours on Sundays. The busiest, most dense, 7 days/week shopping/dining destination is the two blocks on California Ave SW centered on the intersection where the bike corral is located. Especially at night, people want there bikes out on the populated street. Sure, we ride on 44th, 45th and 42nd to avoid traffic on California, but then we go to our destinations on California. And finally, the design is just like those in Portland and other cities, and universities like UW, where they have figured out that trick designs are actually really hard to use, especially for odd size bikes, compared to a nice, easy to lock to staple rack. The bikes and the life on the streets are the beautiful park. The racks just hold them up.

      1. William

        Don, I will speak for myself and say I am glad something was done for bicycles. But also see a lot of missed opportunity.

        I would hope we could use more imagination than our “big brothers” in Portland, if they did the same. There are a lot of cities in the US and abroad that have engaged the private sector and the arts community to come up with creative ways to landmark the corrals with “urban sculpture”. By stylizing the corral’s surround – some look like the autos they replaced. Or stylizing the racks themselves. Obviously, we have a ways to go in Seattle, as the business and even cycling advocates are not very aware yet of the opportunities this change in then urban landscape presents.

        I would agree that your view – that these kinds of things (aesthetics, urban sculpture) are not important (“the racks just hold them up”) would be prevalent in West Seattle. However, maybe something can be learned from the comments made on the West Seattle blog about the bike corral. Like why does it need to be in the road (where they sit is in the way of cars!). Perhaps there is a message the aesthetic could provide that is important. So I also agree with Long Beach and Philadelphia and New York and Tucson, (to name a few in the US) and a number of cities in Europe that have found creative ways to invoke sculpture into these changes to our landscape.

        I appreciate they used racks that take into account the broad cross section of bikes and tire widths available (with the advent of city bikes, e-bikes, cargo bikes), but that is 20 year old news. Most designs for bicycle racks accounted for this when mountain bikes came on the urban scene in the early 1990’s. I hardly see this as any kind of a feature today.

        From what I’ve seen over the years, an awful lot of cyclists on California are transiting through and not stopping. Those going to the Junction as a destination from the neighborhoods are on the side streets to avoid traffic and are glad to find a way to secure their bike off of California.

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