On Saturday, with the help of Emma, Erik, Robin, Julie, Katherine, and Alyssa, the Coalition surveyed the Uptown area for bike parking improvements. We counted the number of parking meters and on street bike racks while the snow was falling. This is the first step in converting the current parking meters into bike parking! Thanks also to Janne for getting the word out that we needed volunteers and Erik for crunching the data.
As the City converts from the old style parking meter to pay stations, there is an excellent opportunity to add bike parking at a low cost to taxpayers and businesses. The City Attorney’s Office has opined that the new meter sign posts are legal to park bikes to, but the style of the new pay station poles would not prevent someone from lifting the bike off the pole and taking it. The addition of the meter hitches would make it safe to lock your bike to the meter poles. The City’s Traffic Department has indicated that they will install meter hitches to the pay stations as part of their conversion project.
But out of more than a thousand meters that will be converted this year, the City only has funding to install 75-150 bike hitches. So the Bicycle Coalition has launched a project to get some additional funding from businesses to increase the number of racks that can be installed. Contributing businesses and organizations will get to choose where the meter hitches are actually installed.
Traffic staff plan to start the pay station/meter hitch installation whenever the snow is basically gone – this gives us until late February or early March to organize. Installation of meters will begin in Uptown (defined as Lyndale to Thomas and 28th Street to 31st), next is Downtown East (defined as the area to the east of 5th Ave S, north of I-94), and then the West Bank (but meters will not be installed on the west section of Riverside, which will be reconstructed this year). Cost of the meter hitches have not been fully determined but will likely be in the range of $40 to $130 apiece, depending on which option is determined to be most viable. The Bicycle Coalition is waiting for a final number from City staff.
Stay tuned as more information becomes available. There will be additional volunteer opportunities in the very near future to count the meters in the other 2 areas and to talk with business owners about covering half the cost of a meter hitch to be placed in front of their business.