One of the pillars of a more bikeable city is good and plentiful bike parking – not just one or two racks outside the dairy, but copious parking at quality and scale. This is especially important around shopping centres, and in particular at bus and train stations as more and more people cotton on to the power of connecting bikes to public transport for easy, reliable, and healthy trips.
Over recent years, we’ve had an especially steady flow of messages from people who bike to the Northern Express Busway stations, pleading for more secure and fit-for-purpose bike parking. It’s a constant cry for help, and it’s getting louder and more urgent.
— Greater Auckland (@GreaterAKL) February 13, 2019
— devnu1l (@devnu1l) July 24, 2019
— Richard Ashurst (@RichardjAshurst) July 1, 2019
I’m writing this quick and punchy blog to reassure you we hear you, and we know how you feel – and we are working with Auckland Transport to make your life easier when you want to park your bike to hop on a bus.
We know it’s been a long time coming. Tooooooo long. But help is on its way at last.
For the past year, I’ve had a fabulous ally at Auckland Transport in the AT Metro Team: Rachel Freebairn. She’s supported by an inspirational boss and surrounded by a team who understand that providing fit-for-purpose bike parking is a no-brainer first step to improve access to public transport.
(The next step is improve safe routes to public transport hubs – and we’re working on that too. It costs more, and needs more design input and willingness to change road spaces, so is slower to arrive but is a vital part of the picture.)
Last year, Rachel commissioned a consultant to review the existing very dated and inadequate bike parking at the main NEX stations She is eagerly expecting designs to land on her desk any day now. We’re looking to get Smales Farm done first, with the other stations following on.
The basic brief is to replace the existing inefficient ‘up/down’ racks with Sheffield stands, and the old blue lockers (which have been removed) with as many Sheffield stands as space will allow.
At Smales Farm, AT is expecting to fit 30 stands, each of which allows for secure locking of 2 bikes, one on each side. That’s parking for 60 bikes – and compared with the recent capacity audit in January that counted just 20 bikes parked in the (theoretical, but not in practice) existing space for 48 bikes, this is a good increase.
E-bikers in particular will be glad to hear some of the stands will be undercover to give weather protection, and there will be CCTV to deter theft. Where space is tight, it will be open-air Sheffields with CCTV.
Rachel will share the designs with me as soon as she has them – and we plan to post a quick update to this page, so bookmark this page now!
Why Sheffield stands? Because in surveys of the cycling community, they always top the billing, especially if they have rubberized cladding on the crossbar to help keep bikes securely fastened to the stands (and stop your paintwork getting damaged).
Here’s some of the new Sheffields installed under cover at Devonport Ferry Terminal, and a close-up view of the all-important rubberised wrapping…
What’s wrong with the “Up/Down” stands? They may look clever, but in practice – as you’ll know if you’ve ever tried to use them – the average set of adult bike handlebars blocks the use of adjacent slots, so they’re really only half as efficient as they look.
The good news is, this design suits childrens’ bikes really well, so the old stands are being rehomed at schools. We asked AT Metro donate the redundant bike racks from Devonport Wharf to Onehunga Primary School, to recognise bike-friendly support from parents and staff at the school, plus parent Nicholas Lee’s hugely valuable volunteer work in Bike Auckland’s project team.
We know other schools need bike racks, so we’ll suggest to AT Metro that next time redundant bike racks need rehoming, they could ballot bike-friendly schools to win racks. What do you think?
Back to the big parking at transport hubs: good things are said to take time. This is a public good that’s been due for a very long time, and we’re glad Rachel is on the job. Watch this space…
— Barb Cuthbert
PS We know this blog will bring cries for help from Panmure and other public transport stations and terminals where people are also hanging out for better bike parking. We hear you. We’ve got your back, too – and I promise another blog post about that soon.
PPS Also useful to know: AT has an online tool that you can use to request bike racks, especially at town centres and community facilities (within the AT road reserve, i.e. mainly footpaths, berms, street frontages and parking spaces).