Monday, April 18, 2016

Bike Parking at Gaiety Hollow is Substandard, may not meet Code

Gaiety Hollow, the museum for the gardens and landscape architecture of Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver, secured final approvals and opened this spring. They held their first formal public open house a little over a week ago.

One of the matters outstanding had been the dispute over bike parking. On an appeal the Hearings Officer ruled against the Lord & Schryver Conservancy, and they elected not to continue an appeal. (For the history of it, spanning a full year, see notes here.)

So now we have some bike parking.

Frankly, it's awful.

If it is deemed to meet code, whatever City process we have that allows something like this to meet code is strong evidence that we need to rewrite our bike parking code - as was envisioned in Bike and Walk Salem! - and perhaps even change the process.

If this is "success" for bikes, we should want no part of it.

New bike parking on east side of driveway and SRC 806
Comb and Toast
Racks - not
First off, it's an old-school wheel-bender toast rack. It barely accepts a wheel, and offers nothing by which to secure the bike frame. The narrow slot for the wheel also makes it easy to torque and bend the wheel itself - hence the disparaging name "wheel-bender." It has fallen out of fashion and professional groups like the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals do not recommend them.

The slots are also spaced too closely together and almost certainly don't meet City code for dimensions on individual bike parking spaces:

From SRC 806.060:
(c) Dimensions. Bicycle parking spaces shall be a minimum of 6 feet by 2 feet, and shall be served by a minimum 4-foot-wide access aisle.

Same model of rack on west side
does not appear securely fastened
There are two rack units, one on the west and one on the east side of the driveway. The one on the east looks certain that it also lacks a four-foot access aisle. Imagine trying to reach your bike with a car or truck parked there. The rack puts you and your bike also in the door zone.

Finally, the racks do not appear to be securely fastened to the ground. So they're pretty mobile.

With a "contributing" or "compatible" truck parked
there is likely not a 4 foot access aisle
via Gaiety Hollow
Intrusions: "non-contributing" elements -
Myrtle Card and Ernestine Levy in Salem, circa 1900
(Detail, Oregon State Library)
It's just weird that Lord & Schryver folks think bikes are
"non-contributing" and invasive, but big trucks are all good.
(from appellant letter in Staff Report on appeal)
This may have been suggested by the City's Historic Preservation Office, who may have recommended a "non-affixed" and "collapsible" configuration. Though these racks certainly don't appear to be made of "historic materials" - unless you count tube steel historic, in which case there's no difference between that tube steel and the tube steel in a bike. (See here for more on "historic materials" and "collapsible" racking.) The autoism in the way the modern cars and trucks are invisible and expected, but a bike rack and bikes are maximally visible and intrusive is very strange.

Apparently the Historic Preservation Officer may have
argued for and even approved non-affixed racks
(Staff Report on appeal)
The parking ends up being a sort of temporary, on-demand or event-style bike parking, and is minimally secure.

However that all may be, in the end if the high-level goal of bike parking requirements is "to encourage cyclists to ride," this instance of bike parking broadly fails.

If the high-level goal is to encourage, this is not a success
(Staff Report on appeal)
It seems unlikely the museum will be a high-demand destination for bike trips. So the Conservancy could easily say, "well, no one bike here; the parking is superfluous." But again, we need to be building for future demand, for the city we want, not the for the city we have. And there are plenty of ways thematically to link bicycling, ecology, and early feminism. It should be easy to structure quality bike parking in a way that fully "contributes" to whatever historic stories the Conservancy wants to tell.

The next Event is May 1st:
Open Garden at Gaiety Hollow
Sunday, May 1 - 1-4 p.m.
Enjoy the beautiful blooms during a warm spring afternoon. Bring your camera! Admission: $5 for ages 16 and up.
They'll be lots of pretty flowers I'm sure. If you go, consider asking about upgrading bike parking. Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates recently published a brochure about bike parking you could give them. Fortunately, it's easy to iterate this kind of thing.

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