Sunday, July 04, 2010

More on parking, and bicycle parking.

Andrew made a recent comment on the cost of parking, and I decided to do a little more reading from the source of my original post by Tom Vanderbilt. (It's clear that Tom Vanderbilt is becoming the contemporary version of Howard Kunstler and his classic Geography of Nowhere.

In this post, Vanderbilt talks about the importance of bicycle parking to enable commuters. It is very true that if you are tethered to your mode of transportation, the means of storing your transportation becomes that more valuable. What is under appreciated with cars is that they not not only serve as transportation, they function as personal storage and recovery spaces. Any policy needs to take that into considerations.

Highly urban cities have developed cultures of spaces to just hang out. Be them pubs or coffee shops. In highly scheduled lives there are gaps between appointments, and a place to hang and recuperate is very valuable. Cars do serve that purpose for many people. For those in cities, I know that friends develop networks of friends where they can camp out for an hour or two between appointments.

So in addition to parking for our transportation, vibrant alternative transportation also needs to figure out how to configure the zoning to support hang out spaces that are profitable for owners as well as comfortable for patrons. In Taipei and other places in Asia I have found that McDonalds oddly fits the bill. Ironic that a place associated with drive throughs is associated with walk throughs.

If we leave bicycle parking for a moment, Vanderbilt's recent post on dedicated bicycle freeways is interesting. This quote strongly resonates:

"Most people don't ride bicycles to work not because they're difficult to store/lock up but because they are at a serious disadvantage safety-wise. No bike helmet will protect you if an SUV driver on a cell phone accidentally broadsides you!"

This is a scary proposition when you are in a car as I recently found out when I was driving and hence once again carfree. On a bike it's a downright showstopper. And with the myriad of distractions in cars (Puhleez, do we really need DVDs in the front console of a car?).

So my question is this, does the architecture of our society rule out bicycles and if not, what can we amend to make it viable?


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