Toronto's taken a small but big step into catching up to cities like Portland and Montreal by installing 16 bike parking spots in a "bike corral", taking over 2 car parking spots in front of the 215 Spadina building, workplace to many cyclists. A lot of credit goes to the tenants at 215 Spadina, including Matt Blackett of Spacing Magazine and Yvonne Bambrick of the Toronto Cyclists Union. Their nagging and pushing Councillor Adam Vaughan and city staff helped to push this into reality. Instead of only 2 people having the privilege of parking their vehicle, now 16 people have it.
Over 75% of 215 tenants bike to work in the summer, according to Matt at Spacing. Many of them being forced to lock up to any sign, tree or gas metre in the vicinity. The extra post and rings installed this spring are already overloaded. It appears as if even the bike corral is full most of the time. Time to install even more!
In the true spirit of modern bike infrastructure, the city has put the racks in as a pilot project. They will be reviewed and next spring expanded to other sites. Cyclists may find the idea of a pilot maddeningly slow and cautious, but they should consider that pilot projects have helped push infrastructure into reality where otherwise opponents would shut them down (University Avenue being the exception). New York City has installed a large number of bike and pedestrian friendly lanes and squares simply by starting them as temporary paint and bollards.
The reality is that even something as simple as bike parking meets opposition from all corners, be it suburban councillors, internal bureaucracy and the Toronto Parking Authority, who may be losing revenue by giving up the spots. Doing pilot projects demonstrates that there is a real need being met.
From the bike union:
The rack is also a unique design. The front wheel is wedged between two metal brackets that form an 'anchor' of sorts for each spot. The anchor spots, 8 in each of the two new racks, alternate with one near the ground, next to one that is raised in a 'one up/one down' pattern that allows bikes to fit better side by side.
City staff say that if this seasonal bike parking pilot proves successful, they will consider installing it in other high bike traffic areas as of next Spring.