Bike lockers could start occupying San Francisco parking spaces

By Joshua Sabatini | November 21, 2013

Source: San Francisco Examiner

Courtesy San Francisco is looking at installing communal bike lockers such as these currently being used in London. The City is considering ways to curb bicycle thefts and boost cycling.

San Francisco is looking at installing communal bike lockers such as these currently being used in London. The City is considering ways to curb bicycle thefts and boost cycling.

San Francisco could become the first major city in the U.S. to install collective residential bicycle lockers in parking spaces, with plans being considered for Nob Hill, Hayes Valley, Inner Sunset and other neighborhoods.

That’s one of a number of recommendations in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Strategy for Long Term Bicycle Parking study completed this month. These kinds of bike lockers are in use in European cities such as London and Rotterdam, Netherlands.

“The initial phase should be the installation of two to four facilities followed by an evaluation of their use and benefit,” the study said of the collective bike lockers. “This strategy recommends that these facilities operate with an electronic, on-demand system, at least initially, to allow turnover and use to be optimized and to help ensure that the lockers are used to permanently store bikes.”

Their use would be restricted to residents who live in the buildings nearest the structures. The study recommends testing these facilities where there is high bike usage and high rates of bike theft, such as the Mission district, Inner Sunset, Duboce Triangle, Hayes Valley, and north of downtown in Nob Hill and North Beach.

“If collective lockers prove successful, the SFMTA should develop an application process for future implementation of collective bicycle lockers similar to the existing bicycle corral application process,” the study said. “Interested property owners could apply to have a collective bicycle locker located in front of their property and agree to maintain the area free of debris.”

In total the study identifies between $4.2 million and $11.8 million in bike-parking capital projects. That would be for such things as 86 bike lockers, including an upgrade of the 52 in existing transit agency parking garages; five unattended areas like at the Transbay Terminal, agency parking garages and West Portal; and three attended pop-up bike stations that would offer amenities such as repairs, sales and rentals.

The report comes amid increasing pressure to curb a rise in bike thefts and to create adequate infrastructure that would encourage biking and meet demand. Last month, the Board of Supervisors imposed a goal of reducing bike thefts by 50 percent in the next several years. Of the 2 million daily trips taken in The City using all modes of transport, 75,000 occur by bike. The City only has 3,000 public-use sidewalk parking racks, according to a city planner.

Increasing bicycling is a significant goal as San Francisco’s population grows. By 2018, The City hopes to have 50 percent of all trips by car and the other half by public transit, biking, walking or taxi.

Long Term Bicycle Parking Strategy


In a previous article here:

A strategy is adopted to reduce bicycle theft by 50% in 5 years. What my cynical mind tells me is that the City of San Francisco is poised to begin charging cyclists for the privilege of parking their bikes on city streets. And well they should! If it means that you can have a bicycle securely locked and not have to deal with the weather elements as well as thieves then paying for a key to the hangar is worth it.

BikeShare projects are the ultimate goal of cities (again in my cynical view of things). By having these become universal means of getting folks moving on bikes around the city they solve a few problems simultaneously.

  • The stanchions into which the bikes are inserted when returned to a station are both foolproof and orderly. There is no bike clutter.
  • And if you provide enough stations there really is no reason for private bikes to be on the streets. This way American cities get to regulate how bikes are equipped (in terms of their lights, fenders, brakes, kickstands, tires, etc.) and how they are maintained. And into the bargain the city gains a better chance of operating BikeShare projects at a “break-even” point.

Doing things this way ultimately turns into a fee-based use of bicycles that cyclists are not going to complain about. They will see paying the yearly service fee as a sign that they are “good soldiers” for the cause. And when the rates are increased (as surely they will have to be) it will not be deemed an increase in taxes (which it most surely will be) but rather an increase in the cost of the service.

John Kass was right!