On Saturday, July 28 the DDA is holding a Two Wheelin' It to Rochester event from 9-5 to raise awareness of the new bike racks downtown. They are asking people to leave their cars at home and ride their bikes into town.
There will be special promotions cyclists that day at many businesses. Bicycles are great for a downtown because that means less exhaust pollution and more space for out-of-towners to park. I think the eight new bike racks around town are a great start but I think this event will be an eye opener of what we are lacking downtown Rochester: a bicycle parking lot.
Rochester is certainly a great destination for many cyclists coming from Auburn Hills, Shelby Township and Lake Orion. The city would like to attract more of these folks into their downtown to take advantage of the shopping and dining.
Two things cyclists will most likely notice are lack of bicycle parking and ease of access into the city by bike. If you come from the Clinton River Trail, there aren’t many easy, clearly marked ways into downtown except by the Paint Creek / Clinton River Trail Bridge. They have built a great parking lot next to the trail under the bridge for cars, but what about cyclists? They should have a parking lot there as well and a stairway into the city like they used to have. From the Paint Creek Trail, a rider comes upon Lipuma’s and the Paint Creek Tavern. There is only one little bike rack there and if you go under the bridge, the trail loops around town and leads the cyclist away from downtown.
As a city crisscrossed by two train trails, we certainly don’t seem to do enough for our cyclists. There should really be a large bike rental service, bicycles lanes and a bicycle parking lot somewhere really obvious and in plain sight downtown. Let’s imagine that on July 28, 100 bicycles come to town. There will be bicycles scattered everywhere! Take a look at the Rochester Mills Brewery on the nights when their bike club comes to eat and you’ll get the idea. There simply aren’t enough racks in town to accommodate that many bikes. Remember, one car can carry a family, but by bike, that is one bike per person!
Now imagine a large bicycle lot, maybe behind the Atallah Heart center or the lot just north of the karate studio, like the kind you see on a college campus. 100 bicycles would fit comfortably there and businesses wouldn’t have to worry about purchasing bike racks or having bikes parked on the sidewalks downtown. Whose responsibility is it to provide bike racks: the city or the individual business?
The photo collection above is of the current bike racks in the city and what bike riders do when there is nowhere to secure their bike. I do not mean for this to be a slam against these businesses. Bike racks are expensive and they should not be required to pay for them.