fietsenpakhuis is a parking garage I’d live in

In Zaanstad, Netherlands there was a parking problem on the main retail strip. A bicycle parking problem.

Built to accommodate 700 bicycles, in a city with only 145,000 residents, fietsenpakhuis reflects the “Zaanse” industrial architecture style of the city and supports the residents and visitors who bike daily in the area.

The floor is paved with bricks connecting it visually to the street outside and in the large front windows stored bicycles and bicycle repair stations will be visible. The space also includes bicycle rental, storage lockers and public washrooms.

More photos at Contemporist and learn more about Zaanstad here.

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 Pedal ‘N Park Locations Throughout Toronto

Earlier, I told you of my recent discovery of sheltered, well-lit bicycle parking in a Green P lot in Yorkville.

Yes, the Toronto Parking Authority is in fact also providing parking for bicycles.

Even better, there is absolutely no cost for using these spots. Simply lock and go.

I contacted the TPA and they’ve provided a list of all Green P lots that currently have bicycle parking. Click on the lot name for maps and more information from the Green P site:

Carpark 1 (20 Charles St.)
8 stands (16 spaces) at the West and NE part of the Garage

Carpark 5 (15 Wellesley St. E.)
2 stands (4 spaces) at the NW Walkway

Carpark 15 (37 Yorkville Ave.)
6 rings (12 spaces)  at the  west wall

Carpark 26 (37 Queen St. E.)
1 stand (2 spaces) adjacent to the NW elevators

Carpark 51 (365 Lippincott St.)
2 stands (4 spaces) near the SW corner of the parking lot

Carpark 52 (40 York St.)
1 rack (7 spaces) outside York St. entrance

Carpark 58 (9 Bedford Rd.)
2 stands (4 spaces) near the TTC generators, West edge of the carpark on Bedford Rd.

Carpark 68 (20 St. Andrew St.)
2 racks (14 spaces) outside southern entrance on St. Andrew St. –  7 stands (14 spaces) southern corner

A Bike Corral on Spadina!

Bike Corral on Spadina by joshstuart

Photo of a new bike corral just south of 215 Spadina Avenue by joshstuart

Really hope to start seeing more bike corrals like this in Toronto. What’s one less car parking space when you can fit a dozen or more bicycles?

Here’s a short video of how these work in Portland:

Incorporating Bicycles into Exterior Home Design

Saw this bike rack as part of a very “put together” front yard in Little Italy. While driveways and garages are the zenith of ugly home design, the creation of dedicated bicycle parking spots like this is certainly something I’d like to see more of:

Bike Parking Front Yard Toronto

Custom Bicycle Rack at Front of House Toronto

Front Yard Bicycle Parking Toronto

What I really like about this setup is how prominent the bicycle becomes on this property. It’s an equivalent to a driveway, but you won’t see the bricks cracking, sinking and getting stained with motor oil. The placement of a bike rack out front allows for easy access to a bike, a quick way to take to the streets without having to go into the shed or through a gate. Of course, this access could make the bikes parked here more vulnerable to thieves as well as being exposed to the elements, but hey, I think it looks pretty good.

How to Lock Your Bike Properly – Do You Make the Grade?

Hal Ruzal on StreetFilms

I cringe every time I see an expensive u-lock only holding a front wheel (with a quick release) to a bike rack. I cringe every time I see a thin coil lock being used as the only barrier between a beautiful commuter bike and a thief. If you’re not sure how to properly lock your bike (trust me, it’s simple when you know what to do) then here’s a fantastic video to help show you the best way to lock a bicycle. Do you make the grade?

Possible Benefit of G20 Preparations?

Ont. Government building has moved all staff bike parking inside for G20. This is part of the main lobby.

At Queen’s Park they’ve moved bicycle parking indoors in preparation for the impending G20 demonstrations.

Maybe we’ll see excellent bicycle parking improvements like this stick around after the weekend?

It could help reduce bicycle theft and get more people cycling!

Photo via Twitter account kayakinstructor and found on Toronto Star G20 Blog.

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

Lower Simcoe Taxi Stand… Wait, That’s A Bike Lane!

I found these images on the blog Torypages. Looks like taxi drivers have found a new place to wait for fares on Lower Simcoe… the bike lane.

More photos here.

UPDATE: Here’s reaction from other sources in Toronto

Anger as cars clog new Simcoe St. bike lane (Toronto Star)
So, this is a cycling city? (Toronto Star)

UPDATE the 2nd: The Toronto Star is really digging in to this story!

Traffic cops powerless to enforce bike lanes

Keeping lanes clear may take higher fines and more ticketing power

three main obstacles for parking enforcement officers trying to enforce bike lanes.

One, there’s no specific bylaw. Smith can’t track how many tickets are issued to cars sitting in a bike lane because such tickets are bundled with any others handed out for parking in a no-stopping zone.

Next, the fine is too low. Last November, Yvonne Bambrick of the Toronto Cyclists Union made a presentation to the Toronto Police Services Board, asking for tougher enforcement around bike lanes.

She wants the $60 fine for cars that cross a solid white line to enter a bike lane to be doubled to $120, which is closer to the $100-$150 fine charged for parking in a fire route or a handicapped space.

“We’re told to stay as far right as possible, then we’re forced to swerve into traffic,” says Bambrick.

Her suggestions were passed on to the city manager. Councillor Adam Vaughan, a police board member whose ward includes the convention centre, says council should be discussing a bike lane bylaw by the spring.

“Ticketing is the only way to do it,” said Vaughan, who said the discussion would include the possibility of raising the fine.

Smith also sees it as a major problem that parking enforcement officers are required to ask drivers to move before ticketing them. Most will just pull away if they see an officer approaching their illegally stopped car.

The constable, who is on the Cycling Advisory Committee, thinks parking officers should have the power to immediately issue a ticket to any car parked illegally, and to have the ticket stick even if the car leaves. That’s a recommendation police have made several times to the province, which has said only that it will consider changing the “drive away” ticketing rules.

LINK (Toronto Star)

Things You Can Do By Bike – Go To IKEA!

There’s a long, boring story that leads up this sunny, Saturday morning ride to Etobicoke. It involves hidden inventory and an obsessive search for a very simple piece of organizational furniture. That said, I had an exchange to make at IKEA. The Etobicoke store being just 13 km from my home, my girlfriend and I loaded up our Globe bikes and set off.

Shadows! Even after such a mild winter in Toronto, the first time you really see your shadow again is exciting.

Because traveling like a Toronto cyclist involves more than just roads, we took a detour through High Park.

Seriously, spring shadows are great!

After a quick ride along still icy and tree covered paths in High Park we arrive along the Queensway. Bike lanes here take you into Etobicoke.

Just as things get roomy with space between the bike lane and other traffic…

… our bike lane travels come to an end.

In Etobicoke they want you to know that there is to be no cycling on the sidewalks. Sidewalk cycling is illegal in Toronto too, but these signs at every sidewalk intersection almost appear as though there is simply no cycling allowed at all. Which isn’t the case, of course.

Once the bike lane ends the motorized traffic gets heavier, and closer. The vast majority of drivers did change lanes to pass us and only when we were close to intersections did a few motorists pass a little too close for comfort.

It’s amazing how wide the Queensway is. I didn’t stop to take a photo, but the road quickly widens to seven lanes across. There are new condos and townhouses lining much of the Queensway, but I simply couldn’t imagine living along a highway. The area is rapidly changing and is just a short bike or transit ride into the city, so this area does have many benefits. (Note: The photo below is from the less wide section of the Queensway).

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from simply too many IKEA trips it’s that you never use the front entrance. There may be bike parking at the Etobicoke IKEA, but since we had a return, I decided to get a little creative and lock us up near the service doors.

Exchange made, bungees secured and we set our sights on home.

Looking back at our simple trip, it’s amazing just how much we were able to accomplish in the morning while on our bikes. We got to experience one of the sunniest days of 2010 in Toronto so far. We got a little bit of exercise, especially when crossing the bridge just before you get to IKEA. We got the best parking spot. And we smiled the whole way there and back… when’s the last time you did all of that on a visit to IKEA?