This project is a perfect opportunity to address gaps in bike parking while planning and building for bike share infrastructure.
By Dave Heidebrecht
Published December 27, 2013
For Hamilton cyclists, the holiday season started early this year. In the past few weeks, the good news about Hamilton's approval of a bike sharing program has been spreading far and wide.
Official approval came at the December 11 Council meeting, and the program looks to launch in Spring 2014. Building on the success of this past summer's Yes We Cannon campaign, which resulted in Council approval of a pilot two-way protected bike lane on a large stretch of Cannon Street, this Metrolinx-funded "Quick Win" will dramatically alter the Hamilton cycling landscape for the better.
Not only will the bike share program encourage non-cyclists to start exploring Hamilton on two wheels, but more importantly it will also set the stage for further improvements to Hamilton's growing cycling network. In short, the resulting infrastructure will be another step towards creating a safer, healthier, more livable and sustainable city.
On the surface a seemingly boring issue, the campaign hit a nerve with those who get around the city on two wheels yet find it difficult to park their bikes in areas where car parking abounds. The result was a tremendous amount of online feedback about places that lacked the bike racks and corrals needed to support a growing culture of urban cycling, including:
So what does this have to do with bike share?
Traditional bike shares such as BiXi, used in other Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montreal, have bike parking stations built specifically for their own bikes. But one of the most innovative and exciting aspects of Social Bicycles, the company that won the bid to operate the new Hamilton bike share, is that the bikes have a more traditional style bike lock and GPS built in to them.
While there will still be 65 different bike share kiosks across the core and secondary service areas, the kiosks themselves are much less complex than the BiXi model. In short, they can be built to hold both bike share and privately owned bicycles.
Reflecting on the findings of the #BikeParkHamOnt campaign and taking a look at the Hamilton Bike Share Zones (see below), this project is a perfect opportunity to address gaps in bike parking while planning and building for bike share infrastructure.
For example, if a new kiosk were to have ten spaces for bike share, it could also have a few extra spaces for public bike parking. In cases where a bike share corral may only be able to hold bike share bikes (due to the land available), post and ring parking will be installed nearby.
This is a great opportunity to address an existing need in an efficient, cost-effective, and responsive process. The timing couldn't be better.
Bike Share Zones map
Now that the new bike share has been approved, one of the next steps will be to identify where stations should be located throughout both the core and secondary service areas.
I'll be providing all of the feedback that I received from #BikeParkHamOnt to a new audit mechanism as part of this process, ensuring that this information is put to good use by City staff when planning in the coming months.
Given that there is much work to be done in a short time, the #BikeParkHamOnt information will be extremely useful in the development of this exciting new project. In only a few short months we'll actually see the change as new bike parking infrastructure is installed throughout the Hamilton Bike Share Zone.
I would like to extend a big thank you to all of those who contributed to the campaign and especially would like to thank Pete Topalovic, Project Manager of Transportation Demand Management for the City of Hamilton, for being receptive to the project and incorporating results into City planning.
City of Hamilton staff are no doubt already busy at work preparing for a busy few months ahead. It is incredibly exciting to see citizen feedback being incorporated into the process and we're all set to benefit from yet another important step in the right direction of building a safe, healthy, and livable city.
While the City is busy at work on the bike share program, other developments from the #BikeParkHamOnt campaign also continue to gain steam. Some recommendations to come out of conversations that I've had with various colleagues since the campaign launched include:
Roadmap & Guidelines for Rack Installation: The City of Hamilton already has some guidelines to be taken for areas that need bike racks installed, though a more clear and direct set of guidelines could be developed for: citizens to lobby private businesses (e.g. grocery stores) and for businesses (or BIAs) to lobby the City of Hamilton for bike racks and/or corrals.
Public Art Competition/Installations: Learning from competitions elsewhere (e.g. Burlington) and in collaboration with Hamilton's arts community, a set of public art pieces in the form of bike racks could be a fun project to explore. Hamilton Arts Council already has experience with the King William Art Walk (in collaboration with the City of Hamilton, the Downtown Hamilton BIA, and the International Village BIA), a designated "art trail" on King William Street. A competition to design bike racks and place them throughout the city would not only build infrastructure but also support local artists and encourage community pride.
More Bike Racks at Schools: The City of Hamilton previously had a bike rack installation program in place with local school boards. More could be learned about the knowledge and capacity gained in this experience with potential to re-launch such a program in collaboration with local cycling organizations. The possibility of also including collaboration between local artists and students to design bike racks that reflect the surrounding school and community has also been raised.
Bike Corrals in Buenos Aires serve multiple-functions of parking infrastructure, public art, and public education.
A bike corral on College St. in Toronto is a local example of what new bike corrals in high-density cycling areas could (and should) look like.
With the right people and organizations to think through the details, these ideas are easily doable. Combined, they reflect the desire of many within our community to foster the type of city-building that promotes safe, healthy, and livable neighbourhoods and communities.
As we slow down our busy lives in the coming weeks, spending time with loved ones and reflecting on where we're headed as collective community, I'm also excited to start looking ahead to what 2014 might bring.
First published on Dave's website.
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