Sausalito remains a free city today, at least when it comes to parking for tourist rental bikes. Instead of adding fees for tourist bike parking, the city will add racks to accommodate 300 more bikes for the expected crush of two-wheeled summer tourists.
This picturesque city north of the Golden Gate Bridge has been jammed each summer season by a growing number of tourists who rent bicycles in San Francisco, ride across the bridge to shop and eat, then return to San Francisco by ferry. The numbers are estimated to run as high as 2,500 a day during the peak season, causing lines at the ferries, riding on sidewalks and clogging areas with bikes leaned against meters or left in parks while visitors meander the shops and restaurants.
"Bike rentals doubled a few years ago and caught us unaware and that was the year we hit a 10-year high in bike accidents,” said city Police Chief Scott Paulin. The city has responded by increasing bike parking for the tourists - many of the racks donated by private bike rental companies - and adding controversial directional signs.
Instead of adding fees, the 2010 bike parking plan calls for 400 bike parking spots, up from the current 105, which will require the removal five auto parking spaces near the ferry dock. The city will also reconfigure bike racks to move them away from the pedestrian promenade at the water’s edge.
The plan is temporary and could be changed if it isn’t working, Chief Paulin said. The added racks and traffic reconfiguration will cost the city about $8,000 and will be completed by May.
"If we are adding enough racks for 300 more bikes, can we reduce racks in other areas?" asked Linda Pfeifer, a councilwoman who expressed concerns about encouraging more bike parking downtown.
"Where are we going with this,” she asked of parking numbers. "We had 50 one year, then 100 and now 400. Where is this going, to 1,000?"