One of my absolute favorite reasons to ride my bike to where I’m going is the ease of parking. Even if there isn’t a dedicated space to lock your bike up at your destination, with a little creativity, you typically don’t have to go very far to find a post/bar/rail/sign/whatever to lock up to. Plus, you never, ever, ever ever, EVER have to pay to park. And nevermind driving around and around and back around the block looking for spot, too many bikes to find a parking place is literally one of the best problems a society could have to face. There’s really no reason to complain about bike parking, yet here we are, right-smack-dab in the middle of a blog about the lack of bike parking because the saying “if you build it, they will come” is still the general rule that is in effect here. There’s ample places to park a bike because people don’t ride to where they’re going because there’s a general lack of cycling facilities, including parking–it’s a cycle (all puns intended).
Now, it is entirely true that there are still people, like myself, that will ride regardless of having cycling facilities. If you’ve been following along, that’s the 7% “strong and fearless” type or the 5% “enthused and confident” types of riders from the survey of the 50 largest metro areas in the US conducted by Jennifer Dill, Ph.D. of Portland State University that I bring up over and over again–like a dad with an arsenal of bad jokes, I feel compelled to bring it up at the slightest hint of a conversation about improving cycling infrastructure. That’s because the largest block, 56%, of those surveyed are “interested but concerned.” Meaning that they don’t ride or ride as much as they would like to because of concerns they have, which are valid. Now, if you were about to guess that their concerns largely had something to do with a lack of cycling facilities, including bike parking, then you would be spot on.
Luckily, we were (somewhat) able to address this issue a few years ago, the last time Winston-Salem updated the Unified Development Ordinance they added bike parking as a requirement for certain new business construction and upfits. Which is great change moving forward, but what about all the places that are already built that don’t have bike parking? Winston-Salem has a program for putting up bike racks in public spaces, but lacks funding to make them available everywhere. While we have some great programs going and the city continually making steps to improve the cycling landscape in the future, I’m always of the mindset that we can do things better, so we are. We’re going to build a bike rack, and there’s only one place I think of when someone talks about making something and that’s MIXXER.
MIXXER is Winston-Salem’s first and only community makerspace. If you’ve never heard of a makerspace, makerspaces.com explains it as a “collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools”–it’s where you go to make things. I love supporting what they’re doing there so I attend events anytime I can, and have even folded them into our own events. The last time I went to an event there, I was joking with Alan, the founder of MIXXER, and told him, “it would be super nice if there was a bike rack here. I wonder if we know anyone that could build one?” Apparently, I sparked a creative firecracker and out came a community bike fair centered around teaching how to build and install a bike rack. Who knew?
So here is what we came up with: We’re outsourcing the design to you, the community. We want to see what Winston-Salem’s makers can come up with. We’re looking for something innovative, nice to look at, and obviously, functional. It should hold 6-8 bikes and fit in a 3.5’ x 7’ space. If you have any questions about how your design will fit, please see Alan or Adrian at Mixxer. You can get creative with the materials, shapes, colors, etc. Designs should be submitted via our form by March 24. We’ll pick the winning design and build it at Mixxer on April 6 and then install it on May 4 in conjunction with a community bike fair* where you can see (test out) the new rack, and meet the people working to connect the cycling community and learn what they’re up to. It’s for sure going to be a ton of fun! Grab a beer from Wise Man or Fiddlin Fish, and grab a bite of food from Earl’s after to round out your day before riding back home (because I know you’re already planning to ride your bike to the event). Check out MIXXER for more info, and see you there!