The city recently unveiled new parking in downtown Davis: bike parking, that is.
Last month, city crews bolted down 10 new permanent bike parking spaces on the west side of the 200 block of G Street, eliminating only one vehicle spot in front of the retailers there.
While the new addition to G Street erases a vehicle spot, the new bicycle spaces will be a big help for those looking for a place to secure their bikes, according to Dave Kemp, the city’s active transportation coordinator.
“All (businesses) in front of the block face were getting a lot of bicyclists as customers,” Kemp said. “So we were seeing a pile of bikes in that area, especially along the facade: against trash cans and light posts and street furniture. They’re just everywhere. This increased the availability (of bike parking).”
Of course, whenever there’s talk of removing parking spaces from the downtown, red flags begin to pop up, but Kemp and the city did its due diligence, reached out and received consent from the businesses in the area.
The block was a lock-up hot spot of sorts, with bicyclists tying up their bikes up to just about any open space they could find. Apparently, a new place for legitimate parking was more than welcome.
Stewart Savage, director of Davis Downtown, said that the business association’s board weighed the subtraction of a vehicle space with the addition of new bike parking at a recent meeting and decided that this was definitely an upgrade.
“We have concerns about losing (vehicle) spots, but we’re trying to find a nice balance with our bicycle-centered community,” Savage said.
“We see the value of having the additional on-street bicycle parking and getting some of the parking off the sidewalks.”
According to Kemp, the bike parking facilities themselves also provide some innovative technology to improve the locking experience.
Made by Park-a-Bike Inc., a Sacramento-based bike rack manufacturer, the “Varsity Bike Docks” come equipped with “QR” reader tags on the top of the wings where the bikes are secured.
Bicyclists can scan the tag with their smart phones and be directed to a page found on the Davis Downtown website that includes Davis bicycling information and a “Park-a-Bike” video that offers pointers on how to properly lock up a bicycle.
The configuration of the rack itself also allows users to lock up both the frame and one wheel simultaneously, even with a U-lock, because of the positioning of the locking wings on the apparatus.
“Always go with the U-lock,” Kemp suggests. The city staffer added that to ensure bicyclists don’t have their wheels stolen, it’s also a good idea to wire-lock the free wheel not locked up by the U-lock.
The wings also feature “Smart Guards” or rubberized material that prevent bicycles and their metal frames from getting marked up, and “wheel troughs” that secure the bicycle footprint and help prevent it from tipping over.
The unit also allows the user to lock their bikes up with the front or back wheels.
In addition to the parking in front of the stores on G Street, the city is considering placing new bike parking in the plaza across the street because of the new rack’s popularity.
As far as more bike parking on the street throughout town, the city is holding off until the Downtown Parking Task Force, which the City Council assembled last month to figure out how to maximize vehicle parking in the Core Area, finishes its work.
Kemp says, however, that he will continue to look at sidewalk locations for the new bike parking throughout the downtown, as long as they don’t cause pedestrian congestion in those areas.
Kemp also believes that Central Park and the surrounding area could use some help in terms of more bicycle parking, especially during the Davis Farmers Market and Picnic in the Park when, on average, more than several hundred people bike downtown.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash