Monday, September 20, 2010

New post-and-ring bike racks: are there enough?

Back in July, an Ottawa Citizen article by Kate Jaimet announced that the City of Ottawa would be installing permanent post-and-ring racks on the posts formerly used by parking meters.

They're starting to appear on the streets now:

While the article makes it sound like the City came up with this idea on their own, it has been done in Toronto since 1984.

When the City issued a news release in April 2008 announcing that it was looking into replacing parking meters with a Pay & Display system, members of Citizens for Safe Cycling contacted the City to urge them to use the Toronto model to ensure that cyclists will continue to have a year-round place to lock their bikes. At the time, the City was hesitant to commit to this option.

Pay & Display procurement was again an agenda item on the City's Transportation Committee in December 2009, and report didn't mention bike racks. I e-mailed again to ask for them to confirm that enough replacement bike parking would be included in the budget for P&D. During the subsequent friendly e-mail exchange, I directed them to an article in Momentum Magazine, issue 43 (no longer availble online) on how other cities approached the problem of bicycle parking loss during P&D conversion. I also directed them to two articles on this blog, Bike Rack Blunders and Bike Rack Design for Aesthetic and Function.

City Staff assured me that they are "committed to effectively addressing cyclists' parking needs during the P&D implementation process and into the future."

I'm still worried that cyclists will end up having fewer places to lock their bikes, at a time when the numbers of cyclists are increasing.

Have a look at this stretch of Elgin between Laurier and Cooper.

That big grey thing is the new Pay & Display machine. There are four existing parking meters that will be removed, plus a blue Velocity bike rack that is only there between April and November.

If you look really closely, you'll note that the City has installed one post-and-ring bike rack on this entire block.

They are not putting them where they will block snowplows, or where only one side can be used for parking. Because Pay & Display doesn't use fixed spaces, they also can't be too close to the curb, because they'll block passengers from getting out if the car is parked with the door in front of the rack. I'm not sure why this is a concern for bike racks but not for hydro poles or newspaper boxes (there are five newspaper boxes just to the left of the above photo).

As a result, where there used to be 4000 parking meters across the city, only 550 (about 13%) will be converted to post-and-ring racks. This is a decommissioned rack on Lisgar that has had its 'guts' removed and payment slots covered over. It will eventualy be removed.

The stretch of Laurier pictured below is between Metcalfe and O'Connor. You can see the post-and-ring rack we saw in the first photo of this post, plus another further down, and at least three parking meters and signposts, each of which has a bike locked to it. When the parking meters are removed, some of these folks won't have a place to park. That's a problem.

219 Laurier

Going in a different direction, the photo was taken in front or 219 Laurier, which was recently bought by Whiterock REIT for $43.5 million, as recently announced by the Ottawa Business Journal.

This building has Laurier Computer on the ground floor, which moved there from its former location next door, which is now demolished for the new EDC building at 150 Slater.

On the other side of the storefront is Coupe Courante, a beauty salon and spa.

The building's two-storey podium extends around to the back of the lot, which has a small amount of parking and a two bicycle racks. Access to the underground parking is from Slater.

As you can see in this view from O'Connor, the building is long and narrow. Laurier is at the right. The rear of the building only has windows on half of its width.

The building is now shadowed by the aforementioned 150 Slater.

The building's white finish is not original. It was originally gray. A set back one-storey pentouse level is barely visible from ground level (there is also a smoother building behind it). You can make out the former gray finish on that top level, which wasn't painted.

The finish itself is a rock panelling, painted white sometime in the last couple of decades. Appropriate, then, that it was purchased by an investment company named Whiterock.

The low Laurier Avenue West parking entrance of 150 Slater guarantees a decent view of the building for some time.

1 comment:

  1. I think the bike racks is a good idea. Lots of people are doing the bike route nowadays so why not put a place where they can safely park them.