Even as the city converts 550 old parking meters in the downtown area to new bike-parking devices, cycling advocates worry it’s not enough.
Evgeniya Kulgina, Centretown News
The city has converted these old parking meters to accomodate more than one bicycle at a time.
The City of Ottawa recognizes the number of cyclists is increasing and a lot of discussions to date about bike safety have centered around helmets and the creation of bike lanes.
But the city is also directing its attention to accommodating cyclists with secure places to store their bikes when they go downtown.
Hans Moor, president of Citizens for Safe Cycling, says he has had a hard time finding bike parking in the downtown area, especially in the summer.
“It’s a nice, creative solution to recycle existing posts,” he says. “I think it’s important, though, that we get a lot more parking space.”
Patrick Uguccioni, a spokeman for the City of Ottawa, says the city’s plan is to replace all parking meters in the downtown area to electronic pay and display machines.
Five hundred fifty old parking meters will be recycled into new post-and-ring bike racks. The process of installing the bike racks has already begun and Uguccioni predicts that over the next number of weeks the project will be completed.
Post-and-ring simply means that the existing post will have a ring added on to it so a bike can be hooked on either side.
Uguccioni says the city consulted with and surveyed Citizens for Safe Cycling and other citizens’ groups about how to accommodate the increasing number of bicycles on the road and where the need for more bike parking is highest.
“We are trying to put these into areas where they’re most needed,” he says, noting areas like Centretown and the Byward Market. “If a spot was identified as in need, we want to work to put them where they’re needed.”
Moor says he thinks the city will benefit by making it easy for cyclists to store their bikes securely.
“You don’t really want to go downtown with your bicycle if you can’t find a place to securely lock it up,” he says. “If you can make sure that people can safely store their bicycles, it’s probably more effective for people to come downtown with their bicycles.”
Carleton student and frequent cyclist Christine Sirois says she thinks the biking infrastructure in Ottawa is inadequate, but says she has not had an issue finding parking for her bike.
“As faulted as cycling infrastructure is in Ottawa, surprisingly, I have no qualms with bike parking,” Sirois says. “There are already a lot of racks that are maintained by the city and, on the off-chance that they’re full, there’s almost always a signpost nearby.”
Moor says he thinks the ideal solution is long-term and modeled on the European model of parking garages for bikes.
“People can pay for parking but actually store it safely,” he says. “There’s people working there and they can look after your bicycle. You can sometimes have your bike repaired at the same time.”