Friday, August 13, 2010

Bikes and Buses, Part II: Bike Parking

I really don’t like bringing my bicycle to downtown Seattle on the bus. I don’t carry much of a lock on my bike, but I do have a lot of other good, easy to steal “stuff” hanging off, such as lights, bike bags and the wheels themselves. I also wouldn't want to leave my bike parked all day (in the rain or sun) in a bike rack at a park & ride. Yet the nearest commuter bus stop is 2 miles from my house – 10 minutes by bike, 40 minutes by foot, a lot of unnecessary pollution and driving by car. The solution? A box at the park & ride that fits bikes called a “bike locker.”

Community Transit manages 92 bike lockers at 15 park & rides around Snohomish County. Those same lots have 6,458 car parking spaces. Given that bicyclists make up less than 2 percent of our passengers overall (see Part I), that might be about right. But the most popular places to park a car are also the most popular places to park a bike: Lynnwood Transit Center and Ash Way Park & Ride have (years) long waiting lists of people hoping to get a bike locker.

The good news for Lynnwood is that Sound Transit (locker purchaser) is working with Community Transit (locker manager) to place 10 more locker spaces near the commuter bus bays. I’m not sure of the timeline, but I’m excited.

Both agencies install bike lockers at new facilities as a matter of course. But we’ve been slower to respond to demands at existing park & rides.

About 70 percent of Community Transit’s bike lockers are currently leased. Unlike a car parking spot, a bike locker is “yours” for the length of your contract. That’s why some agencies charge a small fee for lockers – something Community Transit is also considering.
The next evolution in bike-transit technology is easy to install, easy to administer “pay per use” lockers. They exist, but have not yet been tried in the Puget Sound region (see where some are in use). King County Metro Transit plans to test on-demand lockers next year. Another way to expand capacity is a simple bike cage or room, a concept in use for employees at the Snohomish County Campus.

A more sophisticated version is the Bike Port in downtown Seattle – that’s one place down there where I have left my bicycle without trepidation.

1 comment:

  1. See this Seattle Times story about Sound Transit's plans for added bike parking throughout the Puget Sound region: