transportation integration: there's more than one way to get from a to b

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Friday, May 31, 2013

NC's Gets it's First (real) Bike Corral

It took 12 months, several partnerships, and a whole lot of advocating, but the in-street bike corral will be a beacon to display that transportation on two wheels is blooming in downtown Raleigh.

The in-street corral will be located on Hargett St near the corner of Wilmington Street.  It will hold 10-12 bicycles in a space that would normally fit one car.  The corral was installed this spring by city of Raleigh maintenance staff and yes, we had a party.

Hargett St Bike Corral Party May 2013

Hargett Street is often filled with bicycles and is a primary east-west commuter route.  The street was marked with 'sharrows' (also called 'shared use markings') in 2012.  There are several business that will benefit from the increased bike parking at this location and the dining experience for adjacent restaurants will be improved.  Who wants to huff tailpipe while eating at a sidewalk cafe?  If this rack gets good utilization, the idea could get expanded to other locations in Raleigh and around North Carolina.  Crank Arm Brewing Company in downtown Raleigh has already requested the city remove a parking space and put in a corral.

In-Street Bike Corral Example: Springfield, MO

In-Street Bike Corral Example:  LaCrosse, WI

In-Street Bike Corral Example:  Milwaukee, WI
The idea started in February 2012 because of the growth in the Tuesday Night Ride in City Market.  I asked Saris Cycling to donate a rack and they were excited about creating a partnership in donating 'North Carolina's First Bicycle Corral.'  As far as I know, Wilmington had a couple of in-street bicycle racks that hold 2-3 bicycles -- but this would be the first comparable on-street bike parking to what is more commonly called a bike corral.  Shown above are what are common examples of Bike Corrals that are being installed on a larger scale across the nation to alleviate bicycle parking needs. By April of 2012, Saris was on board and we were rolling.....  

Benelux Cafe in City Market had been using temporary racks to alleviate bicycle parking needs.  Since City Market is a historic district, it is much more challenging to get racks installed there.  Temporary racks are placed out into the street on a temporary basis every single week.  Sometimes two or three racks are needed to hold all of the bicycles and I don't know of any other racks in City Market.  

Temporary Bike Racks at Tuesday Night Ride in
City Market,  Photo Credit: Sam Bennett
Originally I thought it would be great to get a corral on Blake St but working through installing something in the cobblestones in the Historic District complicated the matters.  I wanted to get the rack somewhere that it would be seen, it would be utilized on a regular basis, and where the process could be duplicated in other locations.  I also wanted to set a good precedent for future installations so sometime around April 2012 I asked the Eric Lamb and Jennifer Baldwin at City of Raleigh if they would consider ownership and maintenance the rack. They agreed that the city was willing to take on liability/ownership but wanted the rack installed in a different location.  According to the Raleigh Bike Plan, there was a greater need in a more centralized downtown location. 

Although the needs are still great in City Market, the sharrows being painted on Hargeet in the Summer 2012 and the fact that this location would be more visible to the Downtown Raleigh community, Hargett St seemed like a better pilot location for the corral.  It was around May 2012 that I coordinated with Saris on the new location and handed off the planning and plotting to Eric and Jennifer.

Fast forward several months -- In August 2012 we did a site visit and determined the desired location on Hargett St where we all agreed that the corral was most likely to be utilized and protected from turning traffic.  Lots of factors were taken into account in the placement.  Through the rest of August and September there were lots of questions to finalize everything -- what color is it?  is there installation hardware? value of donation?  shipping quote?  In the meantime, things were getting put together to get approved by city council.  There were lots of iterations of this -- but I didn't work directly on it. (See Eric's notes in the comment section.)  All I know is that they wanted to get it right.  The first time.  And that took from October 2012 until February 2013.  For someone like me outside of the process at this point -- 6 months is an eternity.  Jennifer had to endure emails from me like, "All I want for Christmas is a Bicycle Corral." And now, in another 4 weeks, I might get one for my 31st birthday.  That would be SO COOL.  :)

Funny side story though...  In the year since we started looking into this, other cities caught wind of of Raleigh's bike corral.  Looking to us, SC took steps to get their own thinking we actually had one.  Well "NC's got one -- so should we."  Anyhow, SC beat us to it... albeit unknowingly.

Here's a link to the News and Observer Article that talks about the February 2013 City Council approval of the rack.  I want to thank you ALL for your support!
Many thanks to Eric Lamb, Jennifer Baldwin and Saris Cycling for helping to get this project off the ground! You were essential.


  1. Great job! Thanks a lot for sticking with it and carrying this idea all the way, even if it did test your patience levels.

    Real bicycle facilities like this will show Raleigh's commitment to alternative transit. Looking forward to seeing it.

  2. Two other pieces need to be added to the story:

    1) We never could have moved this forward without the webinar that PBIC provided on deployment of bike corrals in other cities across the US. We hosted a viewing at our offices that was attended by engineering staff from the City's Public Works Department that are responsible to everything in the streets. Seeing and hearing about how other cities approached the problem and handled installation and maintenance moved this from an abstract idea to a tangible reality.

    Since there are no published standards for bike corrals, we had to develop shop drawings and specs for their approval. We also had to make significant changes to the codified parking in the area, and coordinate those changes with the merchants and property owners.

    2) This would not be happening if you hadn't made the effort to get us in touch with Saris and help push this forward. Many thanks for your hard work and your patience as we work to make this a reality!

  3. Six months is nothing compared to the years it took to get Bikes on Buses approved. The city really has gotten better over the years.

  4. I don't understand why this corral couldn't have been on the sidewalk, especially half a block away where the sidewalks are extremely wide.

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