More bicycle parking is on the horizon for downtown Danville.
A recommendation, based on a bicycle parking study conducted by the Berkeley-based Alta Planning + Design, was approved by Danville's town council Feb. 21 that would increase bicycle parking capacity from 121 spots to 215.
The plan would replace existing bicycle racks and construct new ones in various locations around downtown Danville to increase capacity.
"We didn't set out to install bike racks by a certain percent or amount," Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said. "We wanted to go out and look at what Danville needed, compare its needs against its current supply. That's how we identified the number of spaced that were needed."
The question of improving bicycle parking options grew out of the advocacy of Sustainable Danville Area, Calabrigo said.
The cause was formally put into action on May 31, 2011, when the town council folded a bicycle parking study into its capital improvement program. The study was completed in September and presented to the Parks & Leisure Commission in October. It approved the study.
It was then taken to council in November for initial discussion. Council had questions about construction of some racks and wanted to see illustrations. After addressing concerns, the study came back in December. Council then directed that it be presented to the Discover Danville Association (a downtown business association) and the for a business perspective on increasing bicycle parking capacity. Both organizations approved.
"The merchants and restaurants as a whole appreciate the additional bike parking as another promotion of Danville as a safe, friendly stop, shop and dine destination," President of the DDA wrote in an email to Danville Mayor Candace Andersen. The Chamber added that increased bicycle parking capacity would be an added draw for families and bicycle enthusiasts.
Alta Planning + Design's study examined Thursday evening bicycle traffic on Aug. 11. This Thursday was a weekday downtown "shop local" event that shut down Hartz Avenue to cars so vendors could set up in the streets. The study also looked at a Saturday morning and afternoon on Aug. 20.
In total, there were 2,307 records of bicycle activity on Thursday and Saturday with nearly 70 percent directly entering or exiting downtown Danville.
Key results from the weekday inventory include:
- The largest groups of parked bicycles were at the Clocktower Parking Lot, at , behind Riff Raff Customs, and behind the (3 bicycles at each location).
- Despite the lack of formal bicycle parking availability, more than half of bicycles counted were parked along Hartz Avenue (17 bicycles). The bicyclists who parked there were likely visiting the Danville Street Festival.
- A third of bicycles were parked along Railroad Avenue (11 bicycles), while only 15 percent were parked along the Iron Horse Trail (5 bicycles).
- Slightly more than half of the bicycles counted were parked at formal bicycle parking (18 bicycles).
- The highest count locations of parked bicycles in both the morning and the afternoon were at food related destinations including the rear entrance of Peet’s Coffee & Tea (10 bicycles in the morning and 25 bicycles in the afternoon) and at the Farmers Market (26 bicycles in the morning and 20 in the afternoon).
- Half of parked bicycles counted on Saturday in the morning were located along Railroad Avenue, while 16 percent were located along the trail, likely for the bicyclists to access businesses along Railroad Avenue. Lastly, 31 percent were along Hartz Avenue.
- In the afternoon the pattern changed and half of parked bicycles were along Hartz Avenue, 36 percent along Railroad Avenue, and 11 percent along the trail.
Areas greatly lacking in bike parking capacity included:
- The Farmers Market: The study observed 22 bikes parked with no designated bike parking options.
- Along Iron Horse Trail: Though the area has capacity for bikes, the amount parked exceeded that number in double digits.
- Peet's Coffee & Tea on Railroad Avenue: The coffee shop has space for eight bicycles to park. However, during the study times, 46 bikes were observed to parked around the business.
Other areas that lacked capacity for bicycles were and the on Railroad Avenue. Sideboard Coffee has a capacity for zero bikes yet 10 were parked during the observation times and the Railroad Avenue Starbucks has capacity for one bicycle yet 19 bikes were observed to be parked around the business.
The study determined the town needed to look at parking for bicycles for these key points: Farmers Market, downtown street closure events, and food destinations directly adjacent to the Iron Horse Trail and along Hartz Avenue
Increasing capacity, increasing community
The recommendation points to installing new bicycle racks or updating current ones for more capacity in several locations throughout downtown.
In the Clock Tower Parking lot, the study recommends replacing the current rack with a U-Rack, increasing the capacity from 6 to 12, as well as adding a second U-Rack in the Plaza, adding 12 more spaces.
The largest increase would be at the farmers market, constructing 10 U-Racks for a capacity of 20 bicycles.
The study also recommends replacing the current racks at Peet's with eight U-Racks, increasing the capacity to 16 bicycles.
"We're perceived to be in a suburban area, and we want multiple modes of transportation to get around town ... We want to make it so the community can get to and from downtown without getting into their cars and driving there," Calabrigo said.
Calabrigo said by adding more capacity for bicycles, it will reduce the number of bicycles that are locked up on street signs, light poles, and small trees.
How much will this cost?
Though the study said the cost estimate to increase this capacity from 121 to 215 is about $41,000 (with new racks costing between $200 and $300 and installation costing about $150), Calabrigo said that number not be the actual end cost.
He said that he wants staff to examine the costs internally, especially installation costs. He added that the town wouldn't have a cost estimate until July 1 when the capital improvement program is finalized. At this time, there is not set timetable on this project but he said, they'll know more once the capital improvement program is finalized.
"Depending on costs, we may want to do this in phases," he said.
Yet, all of the cost may not come from Danville. Transportation Director Tai Williams said staff would be working toward grants that could cover costs for this project.
Grants for bicycles racks are available from the bay area air quality management district, as well as from the Contra Costa County Transportation for Livable Communities program. The key, Williams said, will be staff resources. She said, as many municipalities have endured recently, staff resources for all sorts of projects have shrunk.
"We're probably looking at starting (this project) at the end of the summer or end of the year," she said.
A beautiful ride
Williams said that these bike racks are a symbol of multi-modal infrastructure for Danville, which is a town that supports cyclists as an alternative transportation source.
Adding: "Plus it's a beautiful ride."
"This appeals to the generational residents," Calabrigo said. "From families to empty nesters looking for lunch or for some light shopping. Our residents can get around and are less dependant on four wheels and a combustible engine."
Have you noticed a lack of bicycle parking in downtown Danville? Will the addition of these new bicycle racks be a welcomed addition?
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