With typical Milwaukee modesty, the owner of Nomad World Pub installed the City’s second on-street bike corral yesterday. There was no ribbon cutting, speech or fanfare, just an awesome new Kojak approved spot to park your bike when you go out for a beer on Brady Street. Readers of OTB may remember that Alterra Coffee installed the first Milwaukee on-street bike corral about a month ago.
The new bike corral did not actually remove an on-street parking place for cars. It was installed in a no parking area that was a bit of wasted concrete on the street. Anyone who frequents the Nomad knows that there is very limited sidewalk area for bike parking. It was not uncommon to see bikes locked in piles to the stop sign post outside the bar on weekend nights. The new 9 rack bike corral provides sophisticated and discreet parking spaces for 18 bicycles and should alleviate the parking problems.
One of the first questions I get about bike corrals is “won’t cars run into them?” First, drunks hit cars parked on the street all the time, but people still park there. Bikes should not be treated any differently. That said, in my experience at DPW, I am not sure if anything can keep drivers on the road. They manage to leave the road and knock down street lights, signal standards and utility poles, so it might take a concrete wall to ensure a completely car-free area. If people are willing to risk parking their cars on the street, I think people will risk parking their bikes there. Relative to this bike corral, the installation is not entirely complete. There are still plans for some additional pavement markings and retroreflective flexible delineators to mark off the spot.
The second question I get about bike corrals is “what happens in the winter? Won’t the plows hit it?” The plan right now is to remove this bike corral and the one in front of Alterra on Prospect during the winter. Demand for bike parking goes way down once the snow starts falling, so the spaces are not needed as much and those who ride all year (yours truly) can find adequate bike parking on the sidewalk. If winter demand continues to grow as more and more people ride all year, the City could look at how bike corrals could be integrated into plowing operations, or maybe the curb and sidewalk in those areas could be bumped out to create a permanent spot for the racks.
For now, this is just one more element of the City’s new bike plan that is being implemented. Three cheers to the business owners of the Nomad and Alterra for investing in Milwaukee’s future. And those of us who bike owe the folks in Milwaukee Matters, especially Chris Socha of The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc., a beer for helping to build a more bicycle friendly Milwaukee.