As the number of people bicycle commuting for work purposes, errands, and shopping grows, an increasing number of organizations are adding bicycle parking to their site. In addition, a number of communities are adding bike parking ordinances which require new development and/or redevelopment projects to add bicycle parking. As a result, accurate and timely data on the availability of bicycle parking can be quite useful to riders.
Creating a database of bicycle parking can be a time-consuming, yet rewarding and useful endeavor – I know this from personal experience. For one, it often gave me a chance to ride my bike around the entire community as I scouted existing locations out, but the effort also gave me a chance to personally experience and note problem areas for cyclists during the rides.
There is no magic bullet to creating a bicycle parking database for your community, business district, campus, or other location. The details I included were the following:
- Location of the bike rack(s)
- Site address
- Number of spaces provided (sometimes this had to be an estimate, especially when the racks are full)
- Type of rack (grid, wave, inverted U, etc.)
- If bike lockers are available too
- Year installed (if known)
- If the racks are protected from the weather
- A photograph
Other useful data that my original database did not include would be (additional suggestions are welcome):
- GPS coordinates
- Condition of the bike racks
- Manufacturer of the bicycle rack
When entering the gathered data for several eastern suburbs of Greater Lansing, Michigan, I broke the bicycle parking locations down into land use categories such as multiple-family, businesses, schools, government facilities, parks, religious institutions, and health care. It seems helpful for determine those areas where bike parking accessibility is strong, but particularly where it is weak.
Once the initial data set has been entered into an Excel-style database or mapping program, it can be used to depict and identify the bicycle rack locations on a geographic information system (GIS), on Google Maps, on printed maps and brochures, on kiosks and wayfinding signage, or on internet websites. Regular and routine updates are absolutely paramount to maintaining an accurate and useful database/map. Granted, the data is a snapshot in time, but it must be regularly re-verified and confirmed or the database/map will become obsolete and unused.
Such a database and map are not only useful for depicting bicycle parking locations, but can be used for depicting useful information on electric vehicle charging stations, bike sharing locations, car sharing locations, and other similar transportation-oriented data sets.