A few friends and I decided to attend the Ride to Improve Bike Parking event held recently organized by fellow CycleTC contributor, Joe. The event was to help create awareness of the dearth of bicycle parking in this popular business district area. Being a St Paul-ite, I wanted to learn more about what shops were in this area as I was relatively ignorant, with the exception of the Turtle Bread which was a stop on a fall Pastry Ride. Looking at a map, it seems like this area is well-positioned to receive bicycle traffic as it is fairly close to Minnehaha Parkway.
There haven’t been many studies that have looked at impact of bike parking installation, but recent anecdotal evidence has shown positives for businesses. Most notably, Portland, OR has seen a wide increase in requests for bike corral installation as businesses have seen both an increase in customers [‘if you build it, they will come’] and an overall improvement in ‘street identity’ [as spoke of here. I personally can attest to the increased frequency of making impromptu stops and impulse purchases when driving my bicycle because it is so much easier to stop and pop into a store quickly, as compared to when I am driving my car. Bicycle parking helps increase the potential number of customers as many bicycles can park in the space for one car. Without available racks, bicyclists may park their bikes any place they can find, which can increase clutter and create a hazard for pedestrians.
Overall, the event was a great success (20 cyclists!) and good conversations were had with various businesses as well as with the South Chicago Ave Business Association. A positive outcome will result in another group ride so we will be keeping an eye on any new bike parking developments.