Our office is in Somerville, Massachusetts, a very dense city next to Boston and Cambridge. City planners have been putting a lot of effort into improving the bike infrastructure over the last decade, mainly by providing safer passages along the major connections throughout the cities. More and more car lanes and curbside car parking have been cannibalized to create a safer bike infrastructure. No doubt, the results are actually really good given how late this all started.
In this article I’d like to point to a somewhat ‘fringe’-topic, not very obvious at first but still with significant potential: Safe curbside parking combined with cargoBike sharing/rental. Full disclosure: With our patent pending vertical bike rack ‘OnStreet’ as core, my business partners and I piloted a unique bicycle parking garage for up to 20 bikes which fits on a car parking spot.
Most of us in the city have been parking our cars overnight curbside outside of where we live and when we returned to our car, usually the entire car was still there, no car seat or front lamp missing (fellow cyclists know what I mean).
Ask someone in a city if it is safe to park a ‘good’ bike curbside overnight and you will get all sorts of responses, usually none even close to a ‘yes, but…’. So what can you do if your place of residence doesn’t offer safe bike parking?
Another question I want to discuss in this article is related to cargoBikes. If you would have easy access to an electric assist cargoBike, would you give up your car or one of your family cars? CargoBikes are so easy to ride and allow you to effortlessly haul away/back stuff which usually requires you to use a/your car. However, they are pricey (easily above $5k) and even if you consider buying one, they require way more space to park/store than your ‘single speed’ bicycle.
Here is a link to a great video explaining eBikes and cargoBikes as a lot of people I’ve spoken to haven't really heard of them.
So, what could smart and safe curbside bike parking look like? Take one parallel car park spot. We designed a shelter of that size and can park, either
- Up to 20 bikes vertically - or -
- Up to 15 bikes vertically plus 1 cargoBike
Our shelter can be partially or fully access controlled. It can be equipped with electronic chain locks, solar panels and can even charge an electric assist cargoBike.
With our German partner Draht Mayr, we provided one open and one enclosed shelter to the city of Kaiserslautern as part of a pilot project. Guess what - they love it.
Once again, on the space used to park one car, we can put up to 15 bikes plus 1 shared cargoBike. We hope this provides food for thought for other city planners. Also, local businesses can benefit from having cargoBike sharing close by. Home Depot is offering truck rentals to customers for a reason…
Please don’t hesitate to send me your feedback.
Walter Z., founder of My Bike Valet