As a employer of many high tech-workers who would prefer to ride their bikes to work instead of driving a car, my company Summersault has a real stake in having bike parking options near our downtown office. We've even interviewed potential hires who cite the availability of bike parking and other types of alternative transportation support as an important factor in their decision to live and work in a city like Richmond, and with a limited pool of local technical talent to start with, it's in our interest to take that very seriously.
Most other communities have recognized the benefits of having bike parking in a central retail and business district like Richmond's. They're good for business (when cyclists feel invited to shop downtown, they tend to spend even more money in a given area than car drivers do), they help prevent damage to benches, trees and lamp posts, they make for a more orderly-looking streetscape, they prevent theft, and they're relatively cheap to buy and install.
Unfortunately, in all of the time that I've worked in downtown Richmond, there hasn't been any convenient and consistently available bike parking available here.
If Richmond wants to be able to say that it's a city looking forward, a city that wants to attract and retain the modern worker, a city that cares about issues of sustainability and energy usage, it absolutely needs to have bike racks in its central business district.
Hopefully the current dearth of bike parking is about to change.
For the last few years, we at Summersault (as coordinated by my coworker and local bikes-as-transportation advocate Mark Stosberg) have been asking the City of Richmond and related entities, "What can we do to get bike racks here?"
We've pointed out how the City's own comprehensive planning supports the installation of bike racks, we've offered to pay for them (they're only $65 each), we've gotten price quotes and offered to manage relationships with vendors, we've presented specific plans and recommendations for where they can go (which have been approved), and we've even offered to install them ourselves - hey, I've got a wheelbarrow to mix some concrete in.
As you can imagine, sometimes the decision-making processes and bureaucracy in these matters make for slow progress, but we've found that people are very receptive to the idea and want to make it happen. Now, it looks like the Urban Enterprise Association (UEA), which has taken up the mantle of getting the racks installed, is approaching the final steps in completing an initial installation.
If bike parking, and having alternative transportation options in general, is important to you, please let the UEA know that you support the installation of bike racks in Richmond's center city. You can contact UEA program director Beth Fields at (765) 983-7396 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Hopefully I'll be updating this post soon with news about the first racks getting installed!
5 thoughts on “Bike racks in downtown Richmond”
Chris Hardie on the bike racks we hope to soon appear in downtown Richmond. Your input now could help! http://t.co/XlfwIC6
On Facebook, Jason Whitney wrote in response, "Please take the time to send a quick note of support and encourage friends to do so as well. As a UEA board member I fully support this project and have suggested the UEA pay to purchase and install bike racks throughout the district. Community support will help this process."
On Facebook, Beth Fields offered an update on the project, saying "the UEA is awaiting bids from local contractors for the installation of 8 bike racks along Main Street. We'll keep you posted as the project progresses. Thanks for your support!"
After he saw my blog post, Richmond City Council member Phil Quinn also used Facebook to express the importance of having bike racks downtown, saying "We want people to come downtown, let's make it easier." Phil asked his Facebook friends to donate money to the project, and has received commitments for close to $1,200.
Mark and I are glad to see that the project is now receiving some more attention and official support from a member of City Council. The hope is that in the future, basic infrastructure items like this will be budgeted for by the City instead of needing time and funding from private companies and individuals in order to move forward.
Thanks to everyone who has expressed support in whatever ways you are able.
I hope we'll be able to install all 12 bike racks that were approved for installation (shown in the PDF linked above). As has been demonstrated, let's not let the modest cost of these be a blocker. Fundraising for the remaining 4 should not be a problem if the government is unable to unwilling to fund these at this time.
As this article on the cost of bike parking illustrates, the final cost per bike parking spot is estimated to be $100 to $300, while at least one study puts the cost of a car parking spot at $15,000. The City owns over 1,200 car parking spots downtown. A single car parking spot could park 18 bikes.
It's not simply a matter of money for the government, it's a matter of priority and inertia.
I can attest that I consider bicycle parking availability before I go somewhere. I have a semi-electric rMartin bike that is my best exercise machine in the summer. I have learned where there are good poles (sign, utility, etc) that I can lock my bike to. It is a lot of trouble but there is one near Phillips drug on Main St. so I can support them. Was just there this morning. I will be glad to donate to the cause. Good topic, Chris.