Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

Fixing parking at Lansdowne

In the first of this sequence of blogs, I wrote about how there were really very few bike facilities in the Lansdowne plans. Then I wrote about how 25,000 person events really needed to have 2-3% bike modal share, even though I can’t find any other stadium in North America that gets near that, even Minneapolis and Portland, OR. Today, I hope to be more positive by explaining what can be done with the parking aspect to the problem.

It’s all about feeling safe

The challenge is this: how do you convince 740 people that parking is safe enough? How comfortable would you be in parking your bike near a crowd like this group of comparatively calm Winnipeg Blue Bombers:

Now, picture 24,000 of them after the game, and imagine some of them being overjoyed or disappointed in the final score. And some of them are drunk, and know they’re leaving the neighbourhood on their way back to Toronto.

If people don’t feel safe in parking their bikes, they won’t. This has nothing to do with reality, it has to do with how they feel. Cyclists imagine things like this:

How safe would you feel?

The parking at Lansdowne needs to be so good, cyclists no longer worry about this.

Event parking

The 10,000 and 25,000 floods require some special attention.

The plan for parking 3% of 25,000 visitors (750 spots) is to use all of the existing permanent 300 spots, then a temporary corral of 450.

For event parking,  I support bike racks that are in one big group, under camera and slightly off the path of the crowd of exiting pedestrians, like this:

For cyclists to feel safe, bicycle parking for events should be:

  • in one big group
  • 24/7 camera surveillance
  • ability to have valet bike parking or staffed security
  • close to the stadium, but slightly away from passing pedestrians
  • covered

The plan is to put in temporary corrals for the overflow of the 300. I think these programs can be great; Bluesfest in the summer parks about 1000 bikes some nights in their temporary corrals. This has some problems:

  • it isn’t clear who would run it and who would pay for it
  • if the 25,000 person events are happening once per month, isn’t it expensive to install and uninstall a temporary facility?
  • if you’re only providing secured corral parking for the overflow, it still relies on bad spots for the remaining 300

My prediction: if the city sticks to the current plan, there will never be bicycle corrals as there’ll never be anywhere near 300 bikes, and with no good parking, there’ll never be bikes, etc.

Day-to-day parking

Parking for access to retail is a different problem. If you want to go to the market or shop at Whole Foods or pick up a bottle of Chateau Lafie Rothschild, you don’t want to have to park in a nearly empty lot, walk 100m to your bike, pick up whatever it is, then walk back. What you’re looking for is:

  • parking at right where you’re actually going, so to the front door of the store or restaurant
  • preferably in view of where you’re going
  • covered
  • in a sufficiently public place that theft and vandalism would be noticed
  • security cameras

There are a lot of examples of these; the plan gets it right by having many of these racks around the facility. I haven’t checked to make sure that all retail has the right amount of parking nearby all obvious stores. I have a sense the only ready they got this right is because they adhered to the Section 111 of the Parking, Queuing and Loading Provisions bylaws.

What hasn’t been made clear is the exact style of bicycle rack, and if they are covered. They should install some sort of covered rack. There’s lots examples. The ones I found quickly that I like are from Brussels and Corvalis, OR:

I’m sure an architect could design one that would fit in well with the existing style.

I am also a fan of the ones in Manhattan, which look like this:

Racks themselves

You know, I’m not going to get into this. The debate about what rack is the best is just going to confuse this article. Just choose one, but be smart about it.  And no wheel benders like this one at the Rogers Centre in Toronto:

The arguments for Lansdowne aren’t particularly different than anywhere else.

Up next: fixing up paths and crossings so cyclists can actually get to Lansdowne. So they show up, spend money, etc…

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