Group calls for downtown bike racks

Thursday, November 15, 2007 | 6:45 p.m. CST; updated 1:29 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — A bike parking problem has prompted the PedNet Project to propose bike racks downtown.

Downtown is not easily accessible to bikers, and parking is a problem for those willing to pedal downtown, said Corri Flaker, the project’s facilitator.

Bikes frequently are locked to parking meters and stacked up on the sidewalks, particularly on Ninth Street between Walnut and Cherry streets and on Broadway between Eighth and Tenth streets. Organizers from the project think putting bike racks downtown will reduce that. The group has been working on the idea since June.

The PedNet Project wants to use part of the $21.5 million federal grant the city received last year to buy the racks, which cost about $100 and can hold two bikes apiece. The PedNet Project wants to put seven racks in a metered parking space outside of Kaldis at Ninth and Cherry streets, Flaker said. The purpose of putting the bike racks in a metered space is to try to reduce the clutter of bikes against storefronts and to demonstrate that bikes belong on the street, Flaker said.

“It would just be a demonstration to show people alternatives trying to create a desire to come downtown by other means than a car,” she said.

Ted Curtis, manager of the PedNet Project, suggested leaving the meter for bikers to fill with spare change.

The proposal has the support of the city’s executive and infrastructure committees. Last Tuesday, the Special Business District Board of Directors decided to formally support the plan.

“We make sure we are talking to business owners, just a little heads-up,” and starting community conversation, said Mike Vangel of the Special Business District Board.

Flaker said that in April she surveyed businesses and left the surveys on people’s bikes.

“Most people said the bike parking downtown needs some work,” she said.

The bike racks still need approval from the city and the Missouri Department of Transportation, which is administering the federal grant money.

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