Absolutely. The whole key to encouraging alternative means of transportation is to make it more feasible (or as feasible) to bike, walk or commute than it would be to drive, and infrastructure such as bike racks is a key part of this analysis. The Federal Highway Administration has said that bike parking is a crucial feature of encouraging bicycle transit. Think about it: let’s say you need to make a quick run to the store to buy something small. The store is within biking distance and it’s a nice day, but if there’s not a secure place to park your bike, why would you risk having it stolen just so you can grab a half-gallon of milk? Cities realize that bicycle racks are a very important part of planning, and this is why you see provisions being made in project approvals for bike parking. For example, when the city of Portland, Oregon renovated its old Civic Stadium in 2000-01, a project I was personally involved with, the land use approvals contained a provision that reduced the number of parking spaces the owner of the stadium would have to build in exchange for putting in bike racks instead. This was a very good incentive because in a compact downtown area like Portland it’s difficult and expensive to provide car parking, but bike racks can be lined up on sidewalks in dense phalanxes, and the scarcity of car parking vs. bike parking would make it more likely that patrons of the stadium would choose to attend the game on two wheels instead of four. So yes, I think more bike racks are an important motivator to cycling behavior, and cities (such as Portland) that have learned this lesson are quite rightly becoming well known as the most bike-friendly cities in America.
Good question, Jetta. It is hard to say for sure, but I think it is is possible. I think the number of people that start riding their bikes as a result of more bike racks wouldn’t be that significant though. In Boulder, the use of bicycles grew so fast over the last couple years that there was a shortage of bike racks. This didn’t stop people from riding though, as they locked their bikes up to anything they could find. So I think having bike racks might encourage more riders, but people would probably be more inclined to ride bikes for various other reasons like hearing about the benefits of saving gas money, being more healthy, and participating in a sustainable method of alternative transportation.
Hope this helps!
I think it would help a little, but only to a limited extent. From my experience, a pole of a parking sign or a strong fence is just as good of a point to attach the bike to. There is probably some advantage of added security as multiple bikes together should be less likely to get stolen (as it’s more likely that an owner would walk up and catch a thief in time, hence deterring them). Now a bike rack in a parking lot that has a security camera – that I’d welcome and even pay for if it’s cheap enough. In my opinion, much more important are dedicated bike lanes, which I don’t see nearly enough of in New York City.
I really don’t think that a lack of bike racks is the reason many people don’t ride their bikes. If someone feels strongly about that, I don’t think a bike rack is a concern. However, I do think that cities should do as much as they can to encourage bike ridings, such as providing bike racks. More importantly, though, they should provide bike lanes and enact laws that provide safety to cyclists riding in the streets.
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