SFMTA Approves Four New Bike Corrals

Photo: Matthew Roth
Photo: Matthew Roth

An SFMTA hearing officer has approved four new bike corrals that will be installed of front of Mike’s Bikes in SoMa, Timbuk2 in Hayes Valley, the Butler and the Chef restaurant in South Park and Thieves Tavern/Box Dog Bikes on 14th Street. A total of four parking spaces will be converted into on-street parking for 46 bikes.

“We have a lot of bikers,” said Nicole Cooper of Timbuk2 on Hayes Street, adding that many of them come in to take advantage of a discount offered through the I Bike SF program.

Nate Rotsko, the general manager of Mike’s Bikes on Howard Street, said the “disorganized” bike parking outside the store has been an issue for customers.

“By taking out one parking space, we’re going to provide parking space for 12 bicycles in a neat, orderly section and clean up bike parking in that area,” he said. “It will also draw attention to the cyclists in that area by moving bikes onto the street. It will inherently improve safety for commuters and people coming along Howard.”

Since the injunction was lifted August 6, the SFMTA has installed 5 bike corrals along Valencia Street, and hopes to get the new ones in by the end of the year.

“The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has been talking to business owners all across the city to inform them about this opportunity to attract more customers,” says Renée Rivera, the SFBC’s acting executive director. “Bike parking corrals are already helping the city catch up with the widespread demand for easy ways to shop and visit local places by bike and we look forward to helping even more businesses realize this opportunity.”

The SFBC has been encouraging bicyclists to tell their favorite businesses that they can get a bike corral installed for free. They’ve been handing out these flyers [pdf] to businesses.

  • Awesome. More more more please!

  • I hope stores realize that having a bike corral nearby announces that they desire bicyclists as customers. It sure is a big sign to me! These days my husband and I do 70% of our shopping by bike, 15% by car, 5% by foot, and 10% on line.

    With 12 bicycles parking in the square footage required by just one car, bike corrals are a space efficiency dream.

  • Nick

    What’s funny is that bike advocacy isn’t truely a citywide effort. Most of the innovative designs are happening along the Wiggle or on Valencia Street.

    Case in point: Bike parking outside Java Beach at the end of Judah Street. On weekends there are 12-15 bikes outside with only 1 bike rack available. It’s quite a sight.

  • So true about Java Beach, Nick. Let’s get one of those flyers to them, eh?

  • ZA

    @Nick – approach the owners of Java Beach to get a Bike Corral or more racks installed then. Be the change you want to see.

  • Chance I’ll end up at City Beer tonight after work, thinking I should bring one of these pdfs to them. They did add a couple new racks, but still always have to lock to a tree or meter down the street.

  • icarus12

    I think bike corrals in most places are a waste of parking spaces better reserved for cars. Heretical to say on this forum, but heartfelt. Why hot just keep installing lots of bike racks on the edge of sidewalks anywhere there aren’t ample metal poles around? To me, a biker, walker, and a driver, it’s all about sharing the streets, taking that full lane when needed, but not gratuitously taking space I don’t need. The bike corrals on Valencia seem like so much posturing to me — more about asserting biker rights to the street than allocating space to all users on the basis of actual need. For every bike corral, I think of the money better spent making curb cuts for wheelchair users, paying cab fares for the over-80 crowd, striping bikelanes green, or funding bike-share programs.

  • icarus – the merchants themselves made the call here. Who are you to deny Timbuk2 the customer parking they want?

  • icarus – now I read the rest of your post. A bike corral costs squat. The new curb cuts in Noe Valley have taken weeks to install. And these sorts of places are getting so many bikes locked to whatever all over the place that the sidewalk becomes unnavigable. And what if the place with no metal pole currently has a street tree?

  • 1 car = 4 people (usually 1, sometimes 2)
    8 bikes = 8 people

    And edge of sidewalk bike parking usually ends up being a mess and disrupting clear passage for pedestrians. I know I feel bad having to lock up on a meter with my handle bars further restricting people’s area to walk, but there is rarely an out of the way place to lock up.

  • icarus12

    To Mike and John Murphy,

    Perhaps I did not make my point as clearly as I could have. I am not against bike corrals or even massive bike parking lots per se in places where there’s a problem finding bike parking. But I ride through a lot of SF neighborhoods, and the only place I’ve ever had trouble finding a place to park my bike is . . . ??? Well, nowhere just yet.

    For example, at the much talked about Java Beach, I biked there and chained my bike to a pole on La Playa, 1/2 block from the cafe. No big deal. Most of the bikes in front of the cafe were fancy-pants types with watchful owners but NO LOCKS.

    As a teenager in Europe, finding a bike parking spot near the town train station could be a problem. And maybe that’s the case in some SF transit hub spots. I just haven’t seen that yet on Valencia, etc. Why not make it a city policy that we can convert parking spaces to bike corrals, but invoke that use only when bike crowding has occurred? It’s not a business owner’s right to determine how people will get to his/her store, or how they will park (none/bike/car). It’s simply a question of not going overboard with any one mode (biking) at the expense of others (driving) when there is no problem at hand.

    Lastly, I think Mike’s bike parking to car parking ratio is misguided. Of course bikes and their parking are a far more efficient means for getting many of us around and not hogging space. But this ratio only becomes important where there is not enough space for bike parking and pedestrians on sidewalks. I don’t buy the idea that a bike lashed to parking meter or stop sign pole gets in the way of pedestrians.

  • With the geometry of my bike, it is a struggle to lock it against a conventional parking meter, although I do manage it when I have no other choice. I definitely find the basic inverted U post the easiest to lock up to. I also find it not always easy to squeeze through cars to get to the sidewalk from the street. In addition, some sidewalks (like 16th between Guerrero and Valencia) are already so crowded with outdoor tables and chairs and pedestrians and bikes parked to meters, I feel guilty adding mine to choke things up further.

    The bike corrals on Valencia are lovely–easy to access, easy to lock up to. In fact, I complemented Bar Tartine on the lovely bike parking they have just outside their restaurant. I could watch my (locked) bike from the window. Made me very happy. Made me feel Valencia Street was a welcoming place to ride my bike to go out to dinner. In comparison, Mission Street, even though it has some very nice restaurants, is not very bike-friendly at all. (Not to mention the parking valets have a lot of attitude.)

    A bike corral = $3000 installed.

    A curb cut with a new wheelchair ramp = $14,000 installed.

    San Francisco and Peninsula Bike Share pilot program (900 bikes) = $7.9 million (not yet installed)

    This is not to say I don’t value wheelchair ramps and bikeshare programs–I do. But bike corrals are truly peanuts in comparison, they encourage people to ride their bikes rather than take their cars, and they offer a level of convenience to bicyclists (12 at a time!) on par with the level of convenience a parking space offers to a single car.

    Why isn’t there a bike corral in front of City Hall? The last time I was there, there wasn’t a single open spot to lock up my bike.

  • I’m more than happy to see that one-less-parking space that comes with a bike corral help to disincentivize driving in the city just a wee bit more. I find bike parking a lot of places to be a real pain in the butt icarus, even when there are a number of sidewalk parking racks, often full. If you build it, they will come–same is true of roads and car parking for bike parking and infrastructure. These are forward-looking investments in our infrastructure, and are sure to have some induced-demand effect in the future even if not fully used right now. I understand your point, that you are not just against them to be against them, but I think your idea about sidewalk parking is becoming/going to be obsolete in the future if SF is able to achieve 10, 15, 20% bike mode share (albeit not anytime soon, but hopefully soon enough…)


  • Fran Taylor

    Why are bike corrals limited to businesses? I’ve heard from some parents at an elementary school along the Cesar Chavez corridor that they’d love to have one out front. Not sure if they’ve applied and been denied, but all the outreach is targeted to private retail. It seems that other facilities like schools and hospitals would also offer good locations.

  • @Fran:

    Bike corrals are not limited to businesses.

  • This is good news, but it’s an unfortunate fluke that both of the bike shops mentioned are actually across the street from a bike lane, instead of right on it.

    And in general, I think icarus’ point is valid: I’ve yet to see a bike corral where it’s hard to find bike parking, e.g. 18th Street between Dolores and Gurrero, and the ones that I do see around aren’t utilised very much.

  • Cyclin’John

    Shouldn’t every grocery store have an on-property or street-front bike corral?

    Likewise, libraries, and other high traffic businesses…City Hall….


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