Friday, November 16, 2007

Bike parking

As I'm sure most people have noticed, there is very little secure, conveniently located bike parking in Fairfax. One reason is that Fairfax County does not have a bike parking regulation. When a new development is proposed, there are requirements for vehicle parking, for sidewalks, for open space, and many other facilities but none for bike parking. With encouragement from FABB, Fairfax County Supervisor Smyth of the Providence District will soon request that the Board ask staff to develop guidelines for bike parking as well as looking into the need for other bike facilities such as showers and lockers.

This is an important development and we're very thankful for Supervisor Smyth's support. We will need support from Fairfax cyclists when this comes before the Board. Most other local jurisdictions have bike parking requirements. Arlington Co, Alexandria, and DC all have regulations and they are referenced on the FABB website under Cyclists Resources, References. Inverted U racks are the standard. They allow two bikes to be parked side by side. The frame of the bike can be easily locked using a secure U lock. The Arlington Co site has a link to Bicycle Parking Guidelines developed by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals that shows examples of both good and bad racks.

If the county develops bike parking requirements, they will not be applied retroactively. It's up to the county and the cycling community to work with property owners to encourage them to install racks. Over the years I have approached many businesses to ask them to install racks. Most are sympathetic, and many eventually install a few racks. It's a low cost, direct approach to getting bike parking. Here are a few examples.

We recently rode to the new Woodland Park Crossing development on Sunrise Valley Dr just west of Monroe St. There was no place to park our bikes and we could find no racks in the development. We contacted the county and eventually were put in touch with the property manager. She agreed to meet with us and Charlie Strunk, the Fairfax Co bike coordinator, to discuss the type and location of bike racks. She agreed to install 8 racks (16 bikes) in the first phase and will install more if needed, especially if employees need racks and they are using the public racks.

We worked with the Reston Town Center Association to have several inverted-U type racks installed at several locations in the Town Center, and GMU recently installed 70 new inverted-U racks around campus. As we've said before, we can make a difference. The next time you can't find a rack, why not find out who is responsible for the property and ask for a rack?

* Special thanks goes to John Brunow of bikes@vienna and a founding member of FABB. When the Vienna Town Green was being planned, John suggested that several inverted U racks be placed in a prominent location on the plaza, adjacent to the W&OD Trail. Better yet, he paid for the racks and the installation. Next time you are in Vienna, check out the racks, and drop in to bikes@vienna on Church St and thank John for his generosity.

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