How to Get Better Bicycle Parking for Your Condo

Urban Garden & a half-stolen bike

I was recently contacted by a BikingToronto reader, Ian, in need of contact information for bike rack suppliers in Toronto. He told me that he had recently moved into a newer condo building near Bloor and Spadina. The building has bicycle parking, but after speaking with other residents and noticing the mess of bikes in their outdoor racks it was clear that his condo building needed better bicycle parking.

Part of why living in a downtown condo building is appealing is the ability to free yourself from needing a car to get everywhere. Ian’s building is near a TTC station and is a comfortable cycling distance from his office. He owns several bicycles and is concerned about keeping them in good condition and free from theft for as long as possible. The current set up in his building doesn’t satisfy both of those conditions. While the most accessible outdoor parking is covered, it is in an alleyway that anyone can walk down. The racks are also cluttered and that means his bicycle is going to get scraped and bounced around in addition to possibly being stolen.

If this sounds familiar, Ian’s story and how a cycling committee in his building approached the board of directors may help you get better bicycle parking for your condo.

While condo builders are adding amenities such as rooftop pools, bowling alleys and fitness centres it seems that bicycle parking isn’t a top priority when space is defined and the building begins. Bicycle racks are often placed in out of the way areas that are hard to access, feature inappropriate racks or simply do not exist at all.

Recent amendments to Toronto Zoning By-laws have added more information on bicycle parking guidelines, yet these focus mostly on quantity of available spaces and less on quality of space provided.

Here then is how to get better bicycle parking for your condo.

Your first point of contact is your condo board. Find out if others have approached them about available bicycle parking. In Ian’s case, a bicycle committee was formed to determine the bicycle parking needs of tenants and to propose improvements.

Bicyles Will Be Removed

The committee then surveyed the building by distributing a questionnaire to determine the current state of bicycle parking as viewed by tenants. Below is a sample survey:

1. How satisfied are you with the current bike parking/storage arrangement?

2. How many bicycles does your household have (write the number 0, 1, 2…9 in each of the spaces provided):

_____Adult-size _____Child-size (small bikes) _____Tricycles (very small child) _____Electric Bikes _____Other

3. Where are your unit’s bikes currently stored? (please indicate the quantity of bikes in each location)

_____Outside – racks at back of building

_____Outside – post and rings in front of building

_____Ground floor “Visitor Bike Parking” room

_____P1

_____Storage locker

_____Balcony

_____Apartment

_____Other location: _________________________

4. Do you have a car parking spot?

5. Would you be interested in having a bike rack mounted to the wall behind your car?

6. How much would you be willing to spend (rack + installation) ? $_________

7. Please rank your preference (1=first choice; 5=last choice) of where you’d like to store your bicycle(s):

_____Outside – racks at back of building

_____Ground floor “Visitor Bike Parking” room

_____P1

_____Other location: ________________________

_____Bike rack mounted to the wall behind my car

8. Would you be willing to pay for an indoor reserved bike parking spot? qYes qNo

9. This question is about how often the people in your unit ride. If you don’t ride in the winter, just ignore the winter months. How many people in your household ride:

daily (4+ times per week) …….. _____

weekly (1-3 times per week)…. _____

monthly (1-3 times per month). _____

less often than monthly………… _____

10. Have you had any bicycles or bicycle parts stolen from in or around the Condo?

11. Have you registered your bike with the Toronto Police? qYes qNo (http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/bike)

12. Please share any other bike parking or storage ideas:

___________________________________________

___________________________________________

___________________________________________

If you do not currently store a bicycle in the building, please make sure to return this survey with “No”

checked below. This is important for the committee to understand the needs of the building residents

and to evaluate the survey response rate. Thank you very much for your participation.

Does someone in your unit currently store one or more bicycles in or outside the building?

Optional:

If you provide us with your name & contact information, we will be able to contact you as soon as more

bike parking & storage options become available.

Your answers on this survey will be used only to guide us, not to commit you to anything.

Name: ______________________________________________ Suite #: ________ Parking Spot #: ________

Phone: ________________________ E-mail: ____________________________________________________

Please contact me as soon as more information is available Yes No

we meet again

Ian reports that the survey was well-received by tenants in the building and the response was more than enough to help guide them in creating an improved bicycle parking proposal for the condo board.

Using the survey results you’ll be able to identify problem areas and find out how much parking needs to be added and where residents would prefer the parking be located.

In Ian’s building it was determined that the outdoor parking was not properly laid out and created a cluttered and potentially bicycle damaging situation when using the racks. Indoor bicycle parking was limited and the racks did not provide secure locking options. Space was identified for additional parking in the underground parking lot of the building yet access and security both posed problems requiring passing through multiple doors which can be difficult with a bicycle and parcels.

Secure bicycle parking means racks that are permanently anchored to the ground or wall with enough contact points to lock both a bicycle frame and wheel. Racks should be spaced to allow for many sizes of bicycles and allow for clearance between them to assist in parking and removing a bicycle.

A bicycle user group for the City of Toronto recommends these bicycle rack manufacturers and models:

Cora Bike Rack Ltd.
www.cora.com
Tel: 1-800-739-4609
Model: Expo Bike Rack

Trystan Bike Racks
www.trystanproducts.com
68 Swan Street
Ayr, ON N0B 1E0
Tel: (519) 632-7427
Fax: (519) 632-8271
Model: TD1

Bike Rack Co.
www.bikerack.ca
395 Signet St.
Toronto, ON M9L 1V3
Tel: (416) 927-7499
Model: The lock up 1 and lock up 2

In order to make your bicycle parking proposal a professional one, be sure to contact suppliers as well as potential installers and determine the full costs of purchasing, shipping and installing. I’d also recommend contacting someone who can help you adhere to fire codes when determining where to install the racks.

Ian told me that after approaching his condo board they have been approved to make changes to the existing parking and a budget was given. The final move now is for the board to act on the recommendations of the cycling committee and put the plans into action.

If you’re disappointed in the current state of bicycle parking in your condo, then now is the time to do something about it.

Additional link: City of Toronto Guidelines for the Design and Management of Bicycle Parking Facilities

Photos via the BikingToronto Flickr Pool

Green P Parking’s For You… And Your Bicycle

Green P Pedal 'N Park 37 Yorkville Avenue

The other day, I was searching for bicycle parking on Cumberland in the high-end Toronto neighbourhood of Yorkville. The few standing post and rings were full and bicycles were locked to what few fences are here so I found myself wandering out along Yonge Street and finally finding an open sign post.

After completing my errand I happened to peek into the Green P parking garage that exits out on to Cumberland and saw a concrete pad with several post and rings inside the lot.

A quick Google search revealed nothing about these Pedal ‘N Park spots so I contacted the Toronto Parking Authority and was told that these racks are free for anyone to use and that other lots do have bicycle parking. They are in the process of putting together a list of these lots and I will post them here once they get back to me.

So, if you’re ever in Yorkville, struggling to find a place to lock your bicycle, head on into the parking garage at 37 Yorkville Avenue and you’ll find free, covered and well-lit bicycle parking.

Green P Toronto Parking Authority Indoor Bicycle Parking

Indoor Cycling Options for Torontonians

Not going to bike in the slush, salt and stains of a Toronto winter?

Not going to join a gym or cyclefit type program?
Want to bike ride in your living room?
Well… seems you have a couple of options.
The first is something called the RealRyder. Why the silly name? I’m not sure. Sure, it looks like a regular exercise bike, but, it allows you to lean into “turns” or maybe just sway back and forth. Here’s what it looks like “in action”:
RealRyder
Alternatively, if you already have a Nintendo Wii there’s a new, massive gaming controller about to be released in 2010, the Cyberbike:
Cyberbike

Personally, while I love cycling I’m not sure if I’m interested in cycling simulators to feed my addiction during the coldest months. But, hey, it’s good to have your options.

Via Wired