SFMTA Postpones Expansion of Bike Parking in City-Owned Garages

The SFMTA has held off on installing mandated bike parking in seven city-owned garages due to “very low usage,” as SocketSite reported this week. Bike advocates say the parking hasn’t been advertised well.

Photo: SFMTA
Photo: SFMTA

Under an ordinance approved in 2013, bicycle parking requirements were increased for new development as well as city-owned and -leased buildings and parking garages. “We want the city to be a model in providing bicycle parking,” a Planning Department staffer said at a City Hall hearing at the time.

The SFMTA has installed “significantly more bike parking” in its garages since 2013, said agency spokesperson Paul Rose. But after a six-month study which found that, “in many cases,” less than 25 percent of available bike parking spaces were used, the SFMTA requested “permission to delay full implementation in certain garages of bike-parking increases required.”

According to SocketSite:

The Union Square, Sutter Stockton and Civic Center garages are among those facilities for which reductions in the number of bike parking spaces required to be installed have been requested, with observed average daily utilization rates of 26.5 percent, 48.1 percent, and 14 percent for their existing racks respectively.

Keep in mind that businesses and buildings which have installed private racks, such as Twitter, Dolby and City Hall, have impacted the demand for publicly-accessible bicycle parking.

But many people just don’t know that there are bike racks in city garages, said SF Bicycle Coalition Policy Director Tyler Frisbee. “There hasn’t been great signage and awareness. Let’s give this bike parking a fair shot before we decide it’s not working.”

Frisbee said that more employers are installing bike parking in their buildings to meet the 2013 mandates, “but for companies that are not capable of doing a remodel, or aren’t building out a new space, there are many employees who are relying on public spaces to park their bikes.”

The SFMTA’s 2013 Long-Term Bicycle Parking Strategy [PDF] acknowledged the need for signage:

Many existing long-term bicycle parking facilities are not visible to the public due to their location within parking garages and are not always obvious to those who work in the buildings and do not arrive by car. Additional outreach efforts to provide information about the location and accessibility of bicycle parking will help to ensure that city investments are well used and will provide encouragement to potential bicycle commuters. Additionally, wayfinding signs helps ensure that the public is aware of these facilities.

The strategy recommended that the agency launch an awareness campaign with materials like a fact sheet, “a comprehensive, high-quality brochure, including a map showing bicycle parking locations in appropriate detail,” and “a web-based map application showing bicycle parking locations.”

While that campaign hasn’t been rolled out yet, the SFMTA did install 32 electronic bike lockers at three city garages last year, and plans to expand them. The agency also said in 2013 that it plans to install on-street bike lockers, though a timeline for implementation hasn’t been announced yet.

Rose said the SFMTA “will continue to monitor utilization on a regular basis” over the year for which the installation delay was granted.

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