Hot on the heels of my grumble the other day about bike parking at events, comes the question: what makes for good bike parking? For day to day activities, how you park at your local shops is more of an issue than the occasional visit to a concert or sports game – and not all of it is great… Guest blogger Robert looked into this issue in his blogpost, first published in Nov 2013 – have things got better since then?
If you drive a car, parking at the destination is always an important consideration for the success of the journey. Critical even. “Free parking“, “easy parking”, “convenient parking”, “handy parking” are all bits of common driving jargon.
But what about for a bike ?
Fortunately, parking a bike is generally much easier than a car and usually nothing to worry about. But not always.
So, some thoughts about what makes a good bike parking space for me, and some examples of some good (and not so good) parking spots around the city.
1. Visibility and access: When entering a parking area if you can see what you are looking for from the entry point, then getting there will be easier and safer. Smaller shopping centres have an advantage; with malls it can be much more difficult.
New World Stanmore Road gets a mention for having a very good bike park close to the entrance of the store and easily visible from the car park entrance. It is separated from any car parks. Super-Value at Edgeware is very good too. Unfortunately, across the road at Edgeware Shopping Centre, there is nothing for bikes, you have to make do with a veranda post and run the risk of inconveniencing pedestrians. Northlands Mall has two bike parking areas, one is hard to find amid a sea of vehicles. To get to the largest of them, it is a convoluted ride amongst traffic. Once there, a security sign advising of CCTV cameras operating is quite comforting .
At Ferrymead Historic Park there are two, quite adequate bike stands, but don’t expect to find them easily. Cross the bridge to the main entrance, turn left and go looking behind the shrubbery.
2. The Hardware: I don’t recall ever experiencing a buckled wheel caused by a badly designed bike-rack, partly because the wheels on my bikes have generally been built for longevity rather than speed and sleekness. That said, if in doubt, I have been known to avoid a possible ‘wheel-bender’ stand by tying up somewhere else, or hogging several stands by parking in parallel. Clearly the innovate single unit per bike structures are the way to go. There are some fine examples of these around the city, e.g. at Ballantynes and the Re-Start Mall, and outside the EPIC Centre on Manchester Street.
For massed parking, providing the perfect design for all cycle types is a real challenge. In our city rebuild, touted to facilitate active-transport options, I hope that consideration is given to some user friendly and well designed bike parks.
3. Sending a message: I think that bike parking is important. If well done, it makes me want to return to a venue, or business. I would like to think that the provision of easy to use accessible bike parks would be seen by businesses as an important feature to encourage patronage. Just who should pay, is a debate for another time, but it is clear that many hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent to provide “free parking” at shopping venues for cars. Parking facilities for bikes are a considerably cheaper option.
The bike parking facilities at Merivale Mall are quite adequate, if slightly out of the way. Their location and positioning unfortunately indicates they have been provided as an add-on or after-thought. Compare this with the beautifully landscaped facilities for cars to park in and the message is clear; that the biking culture hasn’t reached the management team as yet.
Any establishment that markets itself as “environmentally friendly” for whatever innocuous reason, without the provision of good bike parking, is in my opinion missing the mark. To experience a true ‘culture for bikes’ feeling, get yourself along to C4 café in Tuam St. Ride in, park your bike and sit at the table next to it. Great if you are really attached to your expensive bike.
To conclude, here are a few more observations from day-to-day travel around the city.
- Belfast Medical Centre sets a good example for encouraging a healthy and active life-style by providing patients with bike parking facilities.
- The Belfast Shopping Centre has a separated and sheltered bike rack area.
- Christchurch City Libraries (Peterborough Street) has several bike-racks that are sometimes full to overflowing.
- Can anyone tell me if Tower Junction has bike-parking at all? There certainly was nothing obvious around the entrance to Bunnings at my last visit.
- Credit to Briscoes on Salisbury Street; only 3 parks, but they are very good ones in an excellent location.
- The Shirley Shopping Centre (located at the intersection of Hills Road/Shirley Road/Warrington Street) has a very busy car park, but nothing for bikes. This intersection is quite bike-unfriendly, despite the drunken painted lines along all of these streets (more or less). So it is perhaps not surprising.
The brick-bat for this week must go to Placemakers on Cranford Street. No obvious bike rack, nor tie-up post handy. Attach your bike to the wire-mesh cage housing the gas bottles and hope no customers need any gas whilst you are in-store.
What are your experiences of parking a bike around Christchurch?