I rode the Canada Line from the King Edward station last night and noticed these mud-brown boxes (pictured left) just outside the entrance. At first glance, they appeared to be electrical transformers. They’re actually bike lockers, 10 stalls in all. No signage. No way to access them without a key. No number to call for rental information. A bit of sleuthing reveals that C Media, a company contracted by TransLink, operates similar “lock and ride” boxes at many SkyTrain and West Coast Express stations. The lockers rent for three-month periods at a cost of $30 (plus GST and a security deposit). The lockers outside Canada Line stations won’t be operational until next week, with billing and rental agreements scheduled to start September 1. No details about this on C Media’s website yet, so it’s unclear how many lockers there are and which stations actually have them, but you can download the rental agreements and get the process going. The page is linked here.
As Velo-City draws to a close, the Museum is looking at what lies ahead. Throughout the exhibit, we’ve been considering whether we’re on the verge of becoming a true cycling city, by hosting events on topics like bicycle parking, and offering bicycle tours that explore our recent urban planning and architectural history (the tour route uses much of the city’s cycling infrastructure, including the new dedicated cycling lane on the Burrard Street Bridge). We’ve got a few more cycling events planned yet:
On September 3, we’ll be looking more closely at where Vancouver is at in its cycling revolution, by examining other transitional cycling cities and doing a little compare and contrast. Sean McKibben of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition and Amy Walker of Momentummagazine will be joining us for the discussion. Reception with cash bar to follow. Admission is free.
On September 6, we’re hosting a double bill of two cycling documentaries. Veer looks at cycling culture in Portland, following a colourful cast of characters; You Never Bike Alone is a locally produced and shot film that examines how cyclists are changing Vancouver. The screenings are free with regular MOV admission. I’ll post more details on all events as the dates approach.
One thing I know for sure is that Vancouver won’t become a true cycling city until City Hall and the various regional transit agencies better communicate the cycling infrastructure that is available to would-be cyclists. One shouldn’t have to launch an investigation to find out what’s up with the brown boxes outside the Canada Line stations. In a perfect world, those lockers would have been up and running by the opening of the line, when crowds upwards of 100,000 people turned out to ride the trains and learn about the system. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce large numbers of Vancouverites to commuting by bicycle and rapid transit, and it was missed.
And what of the new bike and pedestrian bridge that opened quietly last Friday? Most media didn’t even pick up the story, but the bridge is a major contribution to regional cycling infrastructure and cost $10-million to build. For those who haven’t heard: the bridge is located beneath the Canada Line’s North Arm Bridge over the Fraser River, and connects the Marine Drive and Bridgeport stations. Video of the bridge is linked here. As seems to be the pattern, much of the commentary about it hasn’t been positive, but rather, a chance for cyclists and motorists to sound off on each other online, and for cyclists to lobby for another such bridge to be located more centrally. Read the comments linked to CBC’s coverage here.
Image credit: Rosemary Poole
Continuing our look at all things cycling… Tonight at 7 p.m. the Museum hosts a free, multimedia dialogue on bike parking. The format: three 10-minute presentations, each one animated by slides charting the most creative bicycle-parking designs worldwide and identifying best practices for Vancouver. On stage are:Adrian Witte, a transportation planner with Bunt Engineering; Stephanie Doerksen, an urban designer with VIA – Architecture; and Richard Campbell, principal ofThird Wave Cycling. Smaller discussion groups and a reception (with cash bar) to follow.
In our own informal research on this subject, we’ve noticed that bike-parking design reveals much about place, politics, and civic culture. Two examples stand out.
In Tokyo, sophisticated, multi-storey, mechanized bike towers have emerged to free up space on crammed sidewalks and other public spaces. With the swipe of a credit card, your bicycle is swept into the tower and stored. Swipe your card again, and it’s handily retrieved. Watch this colourful demonstration on YouTube, linked here.
In Toronto, a very different approach. Austere aluminum post-and-ring bike stands line most downtown streets; just a heavy cast-metal post affixed with a ring. It looks faintly nautical. The stands, pictured left, have become a city icon; a symbol of how simple, local ideas can remake the public realm. The design has been credited to David Dennis, who reportedly came up with it in 1984 while studying architecture at the University of Toronto. The stands have their limitations, sure (accommodating only two bikes at a time), but according to 2008 research from Appleseed, a New York-based consulting firm, Toronto has more bike racks per capita than any other North American city, a figure undoubtedly related to the simplicity and cost-effective nature of the post-and-ring design. It has been replicated in cities all over the world.
Vancouver, ever in the process of reinvention, is currently evaluating its own approach. Richard Campbell is expected to touch on this during his presentation tonight. Check back with the blog in the coming days for highlights.
Image credit: Richard Drdul