Idea #21: Bicycle transit center

The “bike center” concept offers a unique, low-cost opportunity to increase the number of individuals using alternative transportation to get to work. (PHOTO: Natural Resources Defense Council)

Spokane has a vested interest in decreasing the number of vehicle trips made per day in the city. Not only does driving alone to work markedly increase carbon dioxide emissions, but it also increases traffic, making Spokane feel more and more like a larger city. By taking drivers off the road and redirecting them to safe, convenient bicycle lanes, our city becomes more active, more engaged, more green, and more efficient. Unfortuntately, in order to do that, we must provide safe, convenient places to store bikes–and places to get ready for work. Enter the bicycle center.

It’s a simple idea, really. Let’s build a location downtown with rows and rows of indoor, protected bicycle storage. Hire an attendant to staff the facility during operation hours, or develop a card-key or smartphone-activated access system. Offer shower and locker facilities, and you’ve got a bona fide bicycle transit center that can be open for users at least nine months of the year. You could charge a small “subscription” fee and offer a drop-in rate for more sporadic users. We’ve already got the STA Plaza. Shouldn’t someone cater to bicyclists as well?

What do you think? Should a bicycle transit center be developed in downtown Spokane to encourage more workers to ride downtown? With increased bicycle infrastructure around the city, where would you like to see investments made to the system? Share your thoughts in the comments below, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in person. We love to hear from you.

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4 thoughts on “Idea #21: Bicycle transit center

  1. I should know better but for a few brief moments, I thought this was a picture of a place that already existed here in Spokane and I just hadn’t heard about it. Make the first, say, five uses free, add the card-key system and security cameras and I’d be willing to pay a subscription fee.

  2. Love to see ideas like this popping in Spokane. A few additions:

    Why not put this IN the STA Plaza? Bike+transit extends the advantages of each and the Plaza is very centrally located. Someone who has a flat tire and no time to wait for the fix can hop on the bus instead.

    Add bike rental/bike-share to the mix along with a few fixed bike repair stands for DIY, and/or have an actual small bike repair shop for higher-level repairs. I’ve heard of vending machines for tubes and patches.

    It needs to be year-round; don’t assume fair-weather-only riding. I rode through the coldest of Spokane winters, only moving to the bus on days when the roads were slippery enough that I didn’t trust anyone’s ability to stop in time to prevent a collision (mine included). On many “snowy” days, vehicle traffic wears the snow off the lane and it’s bare and dry, or bare and wet, and easily biked.

    Our organization (Washington Bikes, formerly the Bicycle Alliance of WA) used to operate something called Bike Port in Pioneer Square, providing secure bike parking for a fee and partnering with transit. This was before I came as executive director so I don’t have deep details. As I understand it, this filled a need for a while but as more and more building developers recognized the value of secure bike storage in their commercial buildings, demand declined and eventually it didn’t make economic sense. That’s a case of a solution you really want–abundant secure bike parking/storage provided by the private sector–killing a different kind of solution. Just something to think about in a business plan. (A bit on Bike Port: http://blog.seattlepi.com/inpioneersquare/2010/08/23/a-bike-port-in-pioneer-square/ and its closing: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2011/08/31/bike-port-in-pioneer-square-to-close-in-december/)

    Barb Chamberlain
    Executive Director
    Washington Bikes

  3. I do love the idea of this. However, after commuting in Spokane (year round as much as possible) I can tell you it will be unused most of the year, most likely. This is why. I work at the two major downtown hospitals. Both have covered bike cages for secure lock up. At one hospital, most days, mine is the ONLY bike in there except in the warmest summer weather. At the other bigger hospital the cage has 20+ bikes in summer but dwindles down to one or two in the winter. These are two of the biggest employers in Spokane with combined workforce in the thousands. The cages are sheltered and secure, and most of all, free! And they are barely used. I’m not trying to be negative but this is the reality in Spokane.

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