The city of Boulder, along with its partner Community Cycles, has launched a pilot program to offer subsidized bike racks for Boulder businesses Thursday.
According to Community Cycles advocacy director Sue Prant, the program has 64 racks available for businesses with no bike racks, racks in poor quality, racks in a bad location or not enough racks to meet the demand.
The racks will be given on a first come, first served basis based on need. Interested businesses are encouraged to apply online at communitycycles.org. The program will provide qualifying businesses in need of bike parking with up to five new racks at $50 each.
"The city does a pretty good job of providing bike parking on city property, but private businesses are lacking," Prant said. "Businesses need to think of where people park when they get there."
She noted that many of the downtown businesses have many more bike racks that fit city requirements than other areas in the city, especially shopping centers.
Community Cycles volunteers will be available to help businesses find an appropriate location for the new bike racks. The volunteers help to ensure that the locations where businesses want to install bike parking meet city requirements. These requirements include a cement area that does not block pedestrian access.
Volunteers can also install the bike racks for businesses as part of the rack fee. Prant said that businesses could also choose to install their racks on their own time, instead. However, those businesses are required to install the racks within six weeks. All businesses, whether they install the racks themselves or through Community Cycles, must maintain the racks after installation.
"Number one, they're responsible to get the racks installed," said Boulder transportation planner Marni Ratzel. "Number two, then they are responsible for ongoing maintenance."
Sarah Marks, owner of Cold Stone Creamery on Arapahoe Avenue, said she didn't believe there were any bike racks available in the Safeway shopping center where her store is located, and would "potentially" consider signing up for the program.
According to Ratzel, 10 percent of all trips in Boulder are made by bike, yet many businesses are not able to keep up with the demand for bike parking. She noted that the city is trying to determine if that stems from problems with location, or if demand is exceeding the supply.
"We're working to understand where bike parking supply is not meeting the demand," Ratzel said. "It's a vital service the community needs to provide."
Ratzel said that some older establishments haven't met the requirements of new developments for bike parking. Despite this, Prant thinks it is a matter of good business to have parking available for all patrons, whether they are driving a car or riding a bike.
"Safe auto parking is a part of business, so safe bike parking should be too," Prant said.
According to Ratzel, this is the first time Boulder has offered a subsidy for businesses for bike parking.