Car parking conversions pioneered in Victoria and Portland popping up in other cities.

By: Yvonne Bambrick
Toronto Cyclists Union
July 13, 2010

The "Bike Corral" is taking over on-street vehicle parking spaces in numbers of downtowns and commercial areas across North America. Several years ago I saw seasonal use of spots in an Ottawa neighbourhood.

We developed a more permanent facility several years ago in Victoria, building a sidewalk extension and providing weather protection with an oversize bus shelter design to service our new Mountain Equipment Co-op, a Canadian active wear and equipment outlet. With little winter to worry about in Victoria, a full time conversion made sense and city engineers were excited by the project. Not long after Portland was installing low tech temporary facilities as well as their own "bike oasis" version of our weather protected bike parking cluster.

Ironically, the idea for Victoria's facility came from Portland's plans, though ours was constructed before theirs. The "corral" with simple plastic "bollards" (posts to delineate the space and keep cars from intruding), popped up in a few Portland locations where demand for bike parking outstripped the need for vehicle storage and the concept caught on. With support from local business we added another permanent facility in Victoria and have lately added our own temporary corrals.

Toronto's project is proposed to be seasonal. They do have a harsher winter and bicycle travel will slow to a trickle in the cold and snow and the needs of street clearing may mean the "corrals" need to be removed to provide access for plows and other snow clearing equipment.

Rack design is not the most appealing, with wheel bender slots supported by a more functional rack frame for better support and utility for locking bikes, but the simple inverted "U" or "staple rack" design used in other cities is still the best.

It's an idea whose time keeps coming and expect to see more cities adopt the concept