If you ride a bicycle in Oakland you are probably acquainted with one of the downsides of the current bicycling boom: lack of parking. On First Fridays, every available meter, post, and pole is piled two or three deep with bikes. Even on an ordinary day, it can be hard to find a secure place to lock up in Oakland’s bustling core.
Oakland will be adding a great deal of new bicycle parking over the next few years: there are plans for bike parking slots at 19th Street and MacArthur BART stations and high capacity bike parking at Rockridge BART. Also, the city has added bike parking requirements for new buildings and city-operated garages. Since 1999, when Oakland began its CityRacks program that installs sidewalk bike parking at no cost to businesses, the city has installed over 1,300 racks with capacity to park about 3,000.
One of the most visible ways the city has put out the welcome mat for bicyclists, however, is through a program that is in its infancy in Oakland: in-street bicycle corrals. Over the last couple of years, Oakland has been rolling out a program to install rows of bike racks in front of businesses that request them. In the space it takes to park one car – about 23 feet – five loops can be installed, with room to lock ten bikes.
The 12 loops in front of Telegraph Beer Garden get a lot of use. “On a Friday afternoon, there’s probably 30 bikes there,” says owner John Mardikian. That’s taking a lot of cars off the road.”
One metered parking space was removed to make room for the Telegraph Beer Garden bike corral. “We’re trying to avoid the removal of car parking when we can,” says Jason Patton, Oakland’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Manager. “Where we can simply add and not take away, that’s the best solution.” Patton and Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities Coordinator Jennifer Stanley look for places where they can replace an underutilized yellow zone or place bike parking in a red zone that wouldn’t be suitable for car parking.
“If we can demonstrate proof of concept, then we’re good to go much further,” Patton says of the careful planning that went into the first bike corrals the city shepherded through the process. “The feedback that I’m familiar with has been entirely positive.”
Requests for in-street bike parking corrals need to come from the individual businesses that want the parking for their customers. City staff then determine whether a location is feasible and plan any changes to the street needed to accommodate the corral. As part of the approval process, the business owner commits to sweeping the area, since city street sweepers can’t access the space where the racks are anchored. The whole process, from request to installation, currently takes six to eight months, a turnaround time Patton hopes to reduce.
Mardikian has nothing but praise for city staff: “The city people really stepped up and came through with providing me with the paperwork and doing the footwork,” he says. Although it took the better part of a year to complete the installation of the corral in front of his establishment, he is happy to have more parking for his bicycling customers. He notes that the parking has reduced the number of people bringing their bicycles inside the beer garden, which was a tripping hazard.
“It’s been better received than I thought it would [be],” he says. His fear that bikes would be vandalized was not realized. “I was pretty terrified that those hoops would end up being a graveyard of abandoned bicycles. That hasn’t happened. Not even once.”
Six more bike corrals are currently pending installation in Oakland, and there is one additional request being processed. “I hope that it’s a program that the city continues to fast track,” says Mardikian. “It’s a more efficient use of space in an urban area,” says Patton, noting that “you’re not hunting for that single rack.”
ABOUT THE SERIES
Live Work Oakland’s bike series is brought to you by Hot Italian, the first LEED Certified pizza & panini bar and the first bicycle friendly restaurant in California, open daily 11:30 a until late night with weekend brunch, cocktails, wi-fi, curbside pick-up, and delivery by bike from Emeryville’s Public Market. HOT ITALIAN is a design-driven brand where modern Italy meets urban California and a 2014 East Bay Bike Bike-Friendly business winner.
VISIT HOT ITALIAN AT THE PUBLIC MARKET Open daily 11:30 am & weekend brunch 10:30 am-3:30 pm 5959 Shellmound Street, Emeryville, CA 94608 (510) 922-1369
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