Milwaukee’s first bike corral

The bike corral is in front of the abandoned driveway at the remodeled Alterra Coffee, so it did not remove any legal parking spaces. But we all know how people pull up and run in to grab a cup of coffee, so it did result in the lost of at least one or two short-term spots for cars.

Alterra Coffee Roasters are the kings of bike parking in Milwaukee.  In a previous post I wrote how they installed the City’s first covered outdoor bike parking outside their building that houses Crank Daddy’s Bicycle Shop.  You may have already read in Urban Milwaukee that they outdid themselves last week by installing Milwaukee’s first on-street bike corral in front of their Cafe at 2211 N Prospect Ave. Bike corrals are becoming increasingly popular in cities across the country.  They have the advantage of offering additional bicycle parking outside the sidewalk area, which is often precious for businesses with outdoor cafes.  They are also good for business because you can fit 10 bikes in the space of one car.

Yesterday was the only chance I had to see the new bike corral in person and the weather was not great. I photographed the bike corral just before the lightning and thunder hit yesterday, hence the sparce number of bikes.

Thanks to the design talents of Chris Socha, of The Kubala Washatko Architects Inc. and the fabrication skills of Ryan Foat, at Oxbow Studio LLC.,  Alterra’s bike corral is more than just a place to lock up, it actually adds to the sense of place and improves the street.  With the clever “BIKE PAKRING” sign built into the corral, it demonstrates how the built environment can even be a form of advocacy.

The importance of this project being driven by the private sector cannot be over emphasized.  When business owners become advocates for bicycling because they recognize it is good for the bottom line as it is good for the City, we are on our way toward a more livable urban place. Of course it helps to have visionary architects and planners working together in an almost salon-like environment.

I was not there, but Chris told me in an email that immediately after installation, people began parking bikes in the racks. He went on to that he visited the Cafe last Sunday afternoon, and reported that there were no less than 8 to 12 bikes parked in the corral (capacity is 20 bikes). “Bike infrastructure has a consistently proven, if you build it, they will come track record, Chris commented in Urban Milwaukee. “I’d say that’s worth noting in these difficult economic times — relatively low capitol costs yield high quality-of-life returns.”

Chris Socha (L) and Dan Casanova (2nd L) of the Milwaukee Dept. of City Development inspect the installation.

Chris also gave well-deserved kudos to the guys at Alterra (and the Lowlands Restaurant Group who will also get a bike corral soon) for listening to an idea and funding it’s realization. Jan Gehl would appreciate Chris’s final comment and challenge: “Little by little, we’re shaping a better Milwaukee. And with that said, I’ll pose the same question that Juli asked, Who’s next, What’s next?”


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Advocacy, Bike facilities and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Milwaukee’s first bike corral

  1. Lance says:

    I go out of my way to patronize Alterra, rather than similar places. The bicycle-friendly aspect is a big reason for that.

  2. Tonieh says:

    Another benefit: those sitting outside at the cafe don’t have to endure as much vehicle exhaust.

    Is there any data about visibility of the corral decreasing bike theft?

  3. Russell says:

    so where’s the bike parking for Alterra in Tosa?

    • Juli Kaufmann says:

      @Russell It would be great to see this in Tosa too, I agree. So, the challenge at the end of the story “Who’s Next, What’s Next” is yours for the taking. The key in this story is that folks did not wait for anyone else to get it done, they got it done. Just ask for it. Propose a simple design (I LOVE Ryan’s work here, but something far simple can work too), pitch it to Tosa, pitch to Alterra, find your advocates and, with a lot of will and just a little funding, it can happen.

      • still rollin says:

        Maybe a bike shop next door would make sense also. That space has been vacant for over a year.

      • daveschlabowske says:

        But Crank Daddy’s moved in across the street.

      • still rollin says:

        Sorry I meant a bike shop next door to the Alterra in Tosa. There is a large retail space in the same building that has been vacant foe about a year or so. Crank Daddy’s WEST!

  4. CK says:

    This is awesome!

    Grist just had an article about this: The Economic Case for On-Street Bike Parking:

    And since the tone around this State has been about $$$:

    “A recent study in Melbourne found that bike parking spaces are better at generating revenue than car parking spaces. In part, this is simply because bicycles take up so little space, and parking can provide more opportunities for paying customers to park right at a business’s front door.”

  5. Will says:

    How about an over the bars brunch ride to make sure it works properly??

    I forgot are there bumpouts on that street? Just wondering how protected it is from cars and especially plows in the winter time?

    • daveschlabowske says:

      A brunch ride is a great idea. Let’s fill that rack! If you want to pick a date and time, I will publicize the ride and put it on the OTB calendar.

      As for the protection of the corral, the bump outs, the temporary asphalt curbs should be enough. And the plan is to pull it out in the winter when bike parking demand goes down.

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