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Bike Parking a Good City-Wide Issue for Lewis Reed

The city faces many big issues all needing attention, including things like our outdated zoning and city charter. Michael Allen has a nice commentary on the big issues still facing us today, the day after a big election. He’s right, our political system needs a major re-think. But that is not what has kept me awake (it is 3am). No, I’m looking for some real & simple areas where Board President-elect Lewis Reed can use his new city-wide status and majority of the board support. Bike facilities came to mind.

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Reed, during the campaign, rightfully bragged about being a founding alderman with Bike St. Louis, a series of on-street urban bike routes throughout a limited area in the city. Basically, those aldermen willing to part with some of their funds helped shape the routes through their wards. Interestingly, it is all south of Delmar. But I am not looking for more bike lanes or share the road signs, I want bike parking. Urban cyclists use their bikes for errands but need places where they can secure their bikes at they make their trips.

Here is where Reed, working with Mayor Slay’s office, can make a difference:

  • Make it easier for private property owners to place an approved bike rack in the public right of way.
  • For projects with public funding & public parking, require bike parking.
  • For projects requiring a public parking lot, such as a shopping center, require bike parking regardless of any public funding.
  • And finally set up a program such as Chicago’s whereby the city provides and installs bike racks along major commercial streets based upon a request from local cyclists or business owners.

Let’s examine these areas in more detail.

Currently for a building owner to place a bike rack in the public right of way (say on the outer edge of the sidewalk in line with street trees and lamp posts) they must jump through many hoops. You see, the city considers such a bike rack placed by a private entity to be an enchroachment into the public space. In reality, it would be an amenity such as a bench or trash can. Our current view of bike racks pretty much eliminates the possibility a building owner will opt to place a bike rack in front of their business. Policy changes within the city can reverse this without costing the city.

Similarly, for projects that require public parking we should look at mandating bike parking. This is especially important for those projects receiving subsidies from the public. In these cases, we should look at some ratio of reducing full sized auto spaces in exchange for providing bike parking. Throughout the country numerous cities have similar requirements, including Springfield MO. Issues such as rack type, dispersement and placement would need to be written into an amended parking ordinance.

Ideally we as a city would fund bike parking along public rights of way, perhaps through parking fees at meters and city owned parking garages. The more cyclists we have, the less demand we have to provide on-street spaces, vast surface lots and costly parking garages. Commercial streets such as Euclid, Martin Luther King, South Grand, Cherokee should all have bike racks among the city-provided amenities, just as is the case along Washington Ave downtown. This, unlike the others, requires funding. So this may need to be a stated goal while the others are implimented in short order.

Bike parking will not be a watershed moment that turns the city around. However, it will add to the quality of life for those who use the bike racks and set us apart from the balance of the region which simply cannot match the urbanity of our commercial districts.

As subtle as they may be, bike parking is something of importance to the “creative class” which seek out other cities while overlooking St. Louis. We need them as residents as well as the jobs that always seem to follow them around.


Circus Day Foundation Offers Lessons in Life & Juggling

Yesterday I attended the annual bike swap meet organized by the St. Louis Regional Bike Federation. As always, the event grew ever larger — attracting more vendors and more customers. This year we had entertainment, the St. Louis Arches — a youth circus group that takes classes at the City Museum through the Circus Day Foundation. The foundation’s mission statement:

Circus Day Foundation teaches the art of life through circus education. We work to build character and expand community for youth of all ages, cultures, abilities and backgrounds. Through teaching and performance of circus skills, we help people defy gravity, soar with confidence and leap over social barriers, all at the same time.

They answer the question you may be asking, why circus?

Circus is a performing art that children and adults appreciate and value. Circus Day Foundation uses circus arts to teach and inspire children of all ages and backgrounds. Our performances entertain and thrill audiences of all generations with the ageless delight of the circus.

Even more so than other sport, cultural or artistic activities, circus is not associated with any particular race or gender. Many arts or sports activities have either a gender or race bias. Circus combines both art and sports aspects, involving kids who might not normally consider doing anything artistic and kids who might not generally attempt anything physical. Circus has an across-the-board appeal that other sports and artistic fields do not have.

The life skills we learn, as children, are the tools we take with us into adulthood. If we teach children when they are young to overlook differences and focus on similarities, to focus on working together to fix something rather than abdicating responsibility and blaming instead, those skills could result in a more peaceful future. When you are trying to do a human pyramid, you need to know the technique and the terminology so that you and your partner are speaking the same language physically and verbally. You learn fairly quickly, that to succeed in performing the pyramid, you cannot blame each other if something goes wrong but you must figure out what you can do together to make it work. Whoever you are and wherever you are from, there is some circus skill that you can accomplish because circus is an art made up of a variety of skills.

Circus teaches life’s lessons. Participation requires cooperation, individual and group responsibility and control over mind, body and emotions. Children learn these skills through circus arts and apply them to everyday life. Circus teaches the art of life.

You could see it in the kid’s faces, they were having a really good time all the while working hard and really focusing on each other. We were treated to a wonderful show complete with gymnastics, balancing acts and juggling. Since it was a bike show, they concluded their 40-minute or so performance with bike tricks. Enjoy the show:


For more information, including how to become a sponsor, visit circusday.org


5th Annual Bicycle Swap Meet and Classic Bike Show, Sunday January 28, 2007

From my friends at the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation…
5th Annual Bicycle Swap Meet and Classic Bike Show
Hosted by the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation
Sunday, January 28, 2007
12:00 Noon – 3:30 PM

Gateway Center
One Gateway Drive
Collinsville, IL 62234
(just 12 minutes from the Arch)

NEW THIS YEAR: Members of Circus Day Foundation’s St. Louis Arches youth circus troupe will perform using bicycles and unicycles combined with an array of circus tricks and skills at 1:00 p.m.

For more information: e-mail: swapmeet@stlbikefed.org, or phone: 314.707.5001
For directions and a map, click here [UrbanReviewSTL: it does say you can get to the center via bus or metrolink but I have not verified the route(s)]

Riding your bike to the Swap Meet? Click here for maps & cue sheet.

$5.50 admission fee starting at noon (free to St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation members and we’ll have a table where you can join at the event. Always free for children under 12)
Early Bird Entry: $10.50 will get you in the door at 10:30 a.m.
All admission fees include a $.50 surcharge for Gateway Center.
Hosted by St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation.

Individuals, bike shops, non-profits, and bike-related businesses will have booths with all sorts of bike related goods. Display your vintage bike, or vote for the best of the classic stingrays, balloon tire, middleweight, and special interest models. Enter a raffle for a brand new reproduction purple Stingray! Expert bike fitter, Tim Ray, will do bike fittings for a fraction of his usual fee. All proceeds from bike fittings will benefit the Bike Fed.
For some additional information and pictures of prior swap meets visit the official website.   To read about some of the 14 bike shops with booths at the meet continue below.
… Continue Reading


Bike Parking Comes to Loughborough Commons, Sorta


The sign reads “For Everyone’s Safety, No Skateboarding, No Roller Blading, No Bicycling. Violators Will Be Prosecuted.” And below the no bicycling sign is, a new bike rack. The sign they should have up at the two entrances would warn pedestrians, “We have no provisions in place for those of you on foot so for your own safety just stay out (unless you work here).” But, back to the new bike rack.

This rack is known as a “dish rack” type of rack and frankly it is one of the worst racks on the market. This type has several problems but the main thing is that it is designed to have a wheel (typically front) slide into one of the narrow slots. This makes the bike very unstable in windy conditions but more critically when attempting to secure the bike to the rack you really can’t use a modern U-lock, you must have a long enough chain to be able to lock the bike’s frame to the rack. Otherwise, someone can easily release the front wheel and take the rest.
This is also a two-sided rack, designed to be accessed from one side or the other but here they’ve pushed it up against the wall so only one side is usable. This is probably OK because I doubt they’d have a mad rush of cyclists all at the same time. What is unfortunate is for the same money (or maybe less) they could have purchased a far superior bike rack capable of holding 2-4 bikes with good support, rather than potentially twisting an expensive rim on a windy day.


But the real problem comes in the placement of the rack. It is increasingly obvious they (developer & engineer) had no thought about bike parking beforehand, only trying to fix the situation later after so much attention. But the sidewalk you see here will someday connect to walks eventually getting you out to Loughborough. This is the only pedestrian route planned in and out of the entire project and if the bike rack is used, bikes will be blocking the sole sidewalk.Pedestrian access & bike parking should have been ready on the day the store opened, something that would have been possible had they given it some thought ahead of time. It would have been the friendly thing to do.


Turning back north toward Loughborough we see they’ve begun to dig out the dirt where a planned sidewalk is going to go. My personal guess is they wanted to wait on this sidewalk until the strip mall building that will be on the left gets built. As with bike parking, the recent attention to these issues has likely rearranged their construction schedule a bit.Note the pedestrian walking along the narrow auto drive as they leave the store. I’ve never once had to hang around to get a picture of a pedestrian, someone is almost always walking to or from the store.


Youth on Bike Hit by Motorist

September 16, 2006 Bicycling, South City 6 Comments

Tonight, on my way home, I witnessed something I never thought I would: a youth on a bicycle getting hit by a car. I could see it about to happen and I was helpless to prevent it. As someone trained as a bicycle safety instructor (League Cycling Instructor is the proper title) we hope to prevent such accidents from happening, not be a witness to them.

I ask that you keep the youth in your thoughts. I can think about nothing else.

I don’t want to go into any of the specifics of the accident. In short the kid completely disregarded the traffic signals (Grand & Chippewa). I was heading South on Grand and I saw the kid crossing the intersection even though those of us on Grand had the right away. A northbound car struck him. I was on my scooter and was able to stop right there — others ran from their cars to the boy. While others attended to the boy (making sure not to move him) I called 911 (it appears others did as well). At first we all thought the car left but I think it took him a second to figure out what happened — the driver couldn’t have seen the kid crossing in his path until the moment of impact. The driver was understandably shaken. After giving my statement to the police the paramedics were about to take the youth to the hospital.

Please, everyone, if you have children teach them how to cycle properly. Don’t let them out on the street without a helmet (and properly adjusted). Yes, as kids we all rode our bikes without helmets and we survived. Well, not all survive. Don’t let them out on the street by themselves at 10pm at night —- on a bike or otherwise. If they are bicycling at night lighting is critical. Bicycling can be safe and enjoyable but only if done properly.

Many members of the St. Louis Bicycle Federation are also trained as an LCI (League Cycling Instructor), perhaps we can put together some local youth training sessions. I’ve already alerted this group to the accident.

Here are a couple of good sites to learn how to teach your kid to properly ride a bike:

Bike Safety
Safety City

I ask that you take the time to teach your kids about bike safety. Don’t have any? Teach your niece or nephew or have a conversation with the parents down the block.