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.
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 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?”