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Friday, March 25, 2011

Bicycles in Parks, Bicycle Parking: Good News on Separate Issues in San Francisco

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 10:30 AM

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Recent bike news is all about parks and parking. Srangely, the two seldom overlap.

On parks, the news is very exciting indeed: The Board of Supervisors OK'd in-park bike rentals last Tuesday. Because of this, starting this summer, you'll be able to rent a bike at the Bandshell and Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, as well as the Marina Green, Justin Herman Plaza, and Union Square.

Civic Center was on the table for a while, but that didn't make it into the final plan. Possibly because of the nearby open-air stolen-bike market.

The rentals will be run by ParkWide Activities, a corporation that includes several local bike rental outfits. It's a big win for ParkWide, since it will get to rent bikes (and sell a few concessions and accessories) year-round.

It's also a moneymaker for the city, which will get around $700,000 for leasing the space. Interestingly, ParkWide's rent is pegged to the time of year: It pays the city around $2,400 in January, but in July it's more than $20,200.

You can read the complete 73-page lease agreement here, if you like reading 73-page lease agreements.

Backlash has been minimal over this "commercialization of the parks" arrangement. Remember that whole Blue Bottle shitshow? Lord.

Folks are also a bit up-in-arms over Segway tours of Golden Gate Park. There were all the usual arguments: Commercialization is inherently bad, the park needs to be more tranquil, that sort of thing. There was also a gripe about Segways popping up on pedestrian-only paths, which does sound like a legitimate worry for disabled people.

It remains to be seen whether The Usual Suspects will raise a stink over the bike situation.

Meanwhile, the news about parking is even more exciting: lots more bike corrals have been popping up around town.

There's a new one in the Lower Haight, in front of Rooky Ricardo's Records, now painted a delightful shade of orange. There's another in front of Braindrops in the Upper Haight. And there's one more in the Richmond in front of Green Apple Books.

This is all very delightful, of course, but it does bring attention to a dangerous parking situation across the street from Green Apple. The south side of Clement has diagonal parking spots, angled so that drivers head face-first into the spot. That means that when they're leaving, they must back out -- and that creates a hazard for oncoming bikes.

The city should switch those lines around so that drivers have to back into the spots. They've already done that on Townsend, and it's been a huge success: cars have no problem navigating into the mandatory back-in spots, there's a high rate of compliance, and there's far less risk to cyclists.

But of course, that's wishful thinking. Just getting those bike corrals installed took about a year, according to Streetsblog, so there's still plenty of backlog.

At any rate, we're at least headed in the right direction. All we need now is to allocate more money and labor to bike infrastructure.

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Matt Baume

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