How to get more people biking to work

Providing safe, efficient bike parking is crucial

Where do bike commuters stow their bikes when they reach their destination? If we want to get more people on bikes, instead of in cars, it’s an important question, contends Tom Vanderbilt in Slate. In New York, the Bicycle Access Bill will now require owners of commercial buildings with a freight elevator to enter the building with a bicycle, which could hugely increase the number of bike commuters there: currently, the city’s supply of bike parking is estimated at 6,100 racks, most of them outdoors. This matters because parking helps make commuters: in New York, for example, studies have shown that a huge number of vehicles that enter lower Manhattan are people who are assured a free parking spot. Meanwhile, bike commuters who must leave their bikes outside risk having their vehicles stolen, vandalized, or taken away by police. Other cities are looking at similar measures. In Philadelphia, for example, new zoning requirements mean developments must provide bike parking, and Pittsburgh is looking at requiring one bike parking space for every 20,000 square feet of development (cars, meanwhile, get one parking space per 250 square feet). In Portland, possibly the bike capital of the US, city council will vote on code changes requiring residential buildings have the same bike parking requirements as commercial buildings. The city’s spending $1 million of federal stimulus money on bike parking at transit hubs. Compare that to the Netherlands, though, where an estimated 27 per cent of daily trips are done on bicycle; underneath or outside most railway stations are huge bike parking structures.