Construction has begun on downtown Cleveland’s first bicycle parking garage, and although it is a few months from completion, those close to the project are already gearing up for an exciting launch.
The Bike Rack, an indoor bike-parking facility and comfort station, promises to be a user-friendly facility for those who bike downtown for school or work each day. It could also encourage suburban dwellers and tourists to use two-wheeled transportation to get around downtown.
“What we’re trying to do is build a diversity of transportation options in the city,” says Josh Taylor, marketing and public relations manager for Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA), a not-for-profit organization that works to create a dynamic living, working and leisure environment in the city.
The 6,500-square-foot Bike Rack facility will be housed in a city- owned parking garage on East Second Street, near the Gateway and East Fourth Street neighborhoods. The location will be in proximity to businesses, restaurants and professional athletic events.
The initial plan was for the facility to have 50 bike racks, but it is likely that the finished product will hold more.
DCA and the city of Cleveland had hoped to open the Bike Rack this summer, but construction now is expected to be completed in the fall. Cyclists will be able to begin using the Bike Rack sometime in early 2011, according to Tyler. When it opens, the Bike Rack will be managed by DCA.
The Bike Rack will be accessible 24 hours a day to members who can join for a nominal monthly fee, perhaps $10 or $15, according to Taylor. In addition to room for storing their bikes indoors, members will be able to take advantage of locker rooms and showers. The Bike Rack will have a manager on duty at all times, says Taylor.
Adorning the facade of the Bike Rack will be a series of metallic blue handle bars with neon green streamers. The design, created by Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Mark Reigelman and undergraduate Scott Stibich, beat out 29 other entries in a design competition hosted by Cleveland Public Art with a grant from Cleveland Colectivo.
A cycle rental station is also planned at the Bike Rack. “The goal is to make it like some European cities, where there are rental stations in other parts of the city so people don’t have to return their bikes at the same station,” Taylor says.
If the Bike Rack is successful, and cycling enthusiasts believe it will be, look for more bike stations to pop up around downtown in the near future. “If the Bike Rack sells out, you almost have to discuss opening others,” Taylor says.
Those who already bike to work or school are bound to find the Bike Rack a welcome addition to the city. Its user-friendly atmosphere may also encourage car-riders to consider strapping on a helmet and pedaling to dinner on East Fourth Street or an event at the Q.
In addition to saving money, cyclists could also find they’re saving their waistlines, according to Lois Moss, executive director of Walk + Roll, a Cleveland organization that encourages people to walk and bike as much as possible.
“Studies have shown that someone who bicycles to work as little as one or twice a week loses about nine pounds in the first year while also saving money on gas, parking and car repairs,” Moss says.