Dave Heidebrecht insists downtown Hamilton really does have a dearth of parking.
“Shocked” that a report submitted to the city suggested downtown Hamilton needs hundreds more spaces for cars, Heidebrecht has taken it upon himself to get feedback on what sees as the real problem: too few rings, racks and lockers for cyclists to stash their bikes.
Heidebrecht, a consultant who works mainly with not-for-profit organizations and academics, put out a call on Twitter this week asking Hamiltonians to name areas around the city that need bike parking. He said he hopes the information he gathers will inform the city and community groups on how to improve cycling infrastructure.
He said his call-out on Twitter has yielded responses from more than 20 people, and his blog post about the project, which was originally posted to the 29-year-old’s website, has garnered more than two dozen comments since Friday on the Hamilton-focused urban issues blog Raise the Hammer.
“In Hamilton, there’s a lot of engaged people out there,” Heidebrecht said. “When you put out an idea like this, you never know what you’re going to get in terms of a response.”
Some of those who responded identified Locke Street South and Augusta Street — both of which boast popular shops, bars and restaurants — as locations that require more bike racks.
And Heidebrecht said it can be frustrating to find a place to lock his bicycle when he picks up groceries at the Fortino’s supermarket on Dundurn Street.
“There’s basically three spots [for bicycles] out front of the Fortino’s and spots for hundreds of cars,” he said.
In its 2010 cycling master plan, titled “Shifting Gears,” the city said it aims for, in two to three decades, 15 per cent of all trips in Hamilton to be made on foot or by bike. The document prescribes a 400-kilometre, $51-million “completed network” of bike paths and lanes to help achieve this goal.
Since 2010, the city has made headway on the 30-year plan, spending more than $1 million to install new infrastructure. And earlier this month, council endorsed a pilot to install two-way bike lanes on Cannon Street from Sherman Avenue to Bay Street.
But Heidebrecht said installing bike racks is another way in which the city could encourage cycling among people who don’t do it regularly. Bike parking, he added, “would alleviate the need for more parking for cars downtown.”
Councillor Jason Farr, whose ward includes the downtown core, said bike parking in the city is “nowhere near where I’d like it to be.
“In Ward 2, we’ve got it pretty good but we could do much better,” he said.
Farr, who was successful in getting council to endorse the two-way bike lanes on Cannon Street, said the city staff will examine bike parking needs for the 1.8-kilometre cycling route.
He encourages businesses and community groups to suggest to the city where bike racks should be installed.
He gave the example of a European-style bike corral that was installed in 2012 in front of Downtown Bike Hounds, a John Street North cycle shop that lobbied the city for the racks.
“If there’s a location that people think needs improvement, they know better than we do where that would be.”
Does Hamilton need more bike parking? If so, where? Let us know on Twitter using the #BikeParkHamOnt hashtag, on our Facebook page, or have your say in the comments below.