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Ride to Rochester Day and the Need for Bike Parking Lot Downtown

Will this be the promotion the city needs to attract more cyclists or will it be a spotlight on what is lacking for cyclists downtown?

On Saturday, July 28 the DDA is holding a 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. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kristin Bull (Editor) July 23, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Lots of discussion/ideas about this on our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/RochesterPatch.
Carol Jackson July 23, 2012 at 02:59 PM
2 additional things to consider: it would help if there were signs when bikers enter Rochester via the trails mapping relevant businesses (places to get food & water & also the town's bike store). I wonder whether it would be helpful (again, for both bikers & the businesses) if Rochester Bike agreed to have a Sunday call-in number for quick repairs -- that is, I can understand that it may not make business sense for the store to stay open all day on Sunday, but during the summer, they might have a phone number someone could call to open up -- or, they might work out a deal with some of the cafe/coffe shop owners to sell common bike repair stuff in the shop's stead on Sundays -- a small cart of inner tubes, etc. & if they were to make such an arrangement, they should publicize that on the bike trails. As someone who tries to ride her bike to work frequently, one thing I'm aware of is that if you have a problem with your car, there's an easily contactable set of service providers who will come to you & help. With a bike, not so much.
David Gifford July 23, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Carol, that is a good point about an on call bicycle service. I have heard that the city might install bicycle repair rack in the park (like they have at the bike shop) so you can lift your bike off the ground and work on it. That is just a rumor for now though. I also like your idea about coffee shops and other businesses working out a deal to stock some bike parts. Being an old fashioned town with shops that close at 6 and are closed on Sundays doesn't work well for the rest of us! I do believe there is a massive wayfinding sign project in the works, or at least I have seen plans of it, to install signs all over town telling people where the library, trails, parks are as well as businesses. That project will probably take place after the downtown makeover is finished.
Richard Cumming July 23, 2012 at 09:05 PM
There is a bike repair station in Rochester park, I saw it just last week. It is just off the Paint Creek Trail next to the park storage/maintenance building. I think this is a brilliant idea for those that know how to repair their bikes but it sounds like it needs to be advertised that it is available.
Peter Griffin July 24, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Also, remind cyclist to use the BIKE PATHS around Rochester, where possible, and quit riding in the street and slowing traffic. I see cycleists riding on Tienken and Livernois instead of on the bike paths and it is annoying -- traffic slows to 15-20mph. They are not Lance Armstrong. I do get a chuckle from seeing these "cyclists" riding in thier "full-out hard core bike gear complete with spandex" --- "hey look at me....I am a cyclist.....weeeeeeeee.....weeeeeeeeeeeeeee". Anyway, have fun with your event.
Chris July 24, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Aren't the bike trails good enough? I hate driving through downtown on a weekend when you have 20-30 of them taking up the whole road and they won't move over. If you want to ride on the road, then they should pay a yearly fee just like I do on my car. Gotta pay to play....Go to Stoney. less traffic, more hills. Plus, I don't see 4-5 bikes locked up outside everywhere, so why should we spend $1000 each for a bike rack all around town? Do what they did back in the day and lock it up to a tree, sign or something else....Waste of $$$$
Robert Gauthier July 24, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Lets spend money on something we need rather than something we want. Lots of needs still in this city and bike racks are not one of them. I agree with Chris, lock the bikes up with a personal lock. Not like the Tour De France is rolling around town all the time.
Carol Jackson July 24, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I don't think this is -- strictly speaking -- a matter of what people "want." I thought -- but concede I don't know -- that the DDA had made some kind of study about whether bikers bring more business to town & therefore encouraging bikers to visit is supposed to improve the business climate. I know in my case, when I moved to Rochester Hills (from Troy), my husband & I didn't spend that much time downtown -- we tended to frequent the library & the post office. I started biking into Rochester once the Clinton River Trail opened. Then I got my husband to come in with me & now we go (via car more than via bike, but also still via bike) at least once a week, often 2-3 times a week. Being known as a bike-friendly city is a market differentiater. If you are coming from out of town & you like to bike (as I understand Paul McCartney did), do you stay at the Royal Park or at the Townshend? Well, Birmingham doesn't have our bike trails. My understanding is that Sir Paul stayed in Rochester. Of course, I'm just giving anecdotes -- what I don't know -- perhaps the Patch could clarify -- is whether the bike racks would just be a nice service to humor people who would come anyway or whether there's evidence that advertising the fact the city is very friendly to bikers is a way of improving business. If the latter, then you're not just talking about an outlay; you're talking about an investment.
Robert Gauthier July 24, 2012 at 10:23 PM
If you can tie bike accommodations to increased sales downtown, then I would agree with you. Although I know when I bike, I'm not always carrying my wallet and my wife doesn't bring her purse. I'm not saying its a terrible idea, I just think money could be better spent at this time.
Whatever July 25, 2012 at 04:49 AM
A main deciding factor in me purchasing my house in R.H. were the bike trails and downtown. I think bike parking could be improved downtown; hopeful these new racks are a step in the right direction. To everyone against them, why do we need parking lots downtown. Why not park on the street like back in the good old days? Signs on the trails would help even more. I know the Friends of Clinton River Trail have been studying the designing significant improvements along the entire trail. To 4x4 driver, the safety paths along the main roads in R.H. aren't safe for cyclists. Many ppl don't expect anything to go by 15-20 mph on what is essentially a wide sidewalk. Most probably don't even expect to see someone walking. To Chris, money to pay for roads come from more than just gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, including sales, income, and property taxes.
Peter Griffin July 25, 2012 at 10:49 AM
I said it is annoying to see: 1) "cyclists" riding on Tienken and Livernois instead of on the black-top bike paths...As for Downtown, the road is fine (between Univeristy and First Street) since traffic can only go 25mph anyway (better keep your speed up). 2) "cyclists" pretending they are in a bike race by riding on Walton, Tienken, and Livernois with their spandex bike shorts and entire Tour de France garb. Also, most adults drive a car, truck, or motorcycle -- I gave my bike up when I was 15 (although I do ride with our kids in our sub a bit). That is why we need parking lots...places for adults to put the motorized vehicles they drive. You cannot get groceries or shop downtown and bring everything home on a bicycle. (da-ding...da-ding...da ding [Lance Armstrong's bike bell] da-ding da-ding)
Whatever July 25, 2012 at 04:40 PM
The paths along main roads like Tienken and Livernois are nothing more than wide sidewalks. They are NOT bike paths. And yes, you can bring groceries home and whatever else you want. I can haul myself, 3 kids and a few days of gorceries home on my bike. I can't help your ignorance.
Peter Griffin July 25, 2012 at 07:16 PM
The black top paths along Tienken and Livernois ARE bike paths. They were referred to as bike paths back in the early to mid 90's on the local ballot when there was a proposal to "resurface bike paths along Tienken and Livernois (and other Rochester Hills roads)". Look, spending money on something as unnecessary as bicycle racks, when the Rochester Schools is running a deficit, is irresponsible money management. School districts add value to your property -- not how "bicycle friendly" a town is. I can't help your ignorance. Now I need to figure out how to get that 4x8 sheet of plywood home on a bicycle....
Joshua Raymond July 25, 2012 at 07:37 PM
For a map of the pathways and sidewalks in Rochester Hills, please see http://www.rochesterhills.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/450 The pathways in Rochester Hills are multi-use and intended for both bicycles and pedestrians.
Robert Gauthier July 25, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Whatever.... - This I would pay to see...you must look like a circus going down the road. And yes, you can bring groceries home and whatever else you want. I can haul myself, 3 kids and a few days of gorceries home on my bike. I can't help your ignorance.
David Gifford July 26, 2012 at 09:49 PM
For me, cycling is about recreation and about having an alternative choice to driving a car everywhere. Sometimes it is nice to slow things down and feel like you have earned your destination. Since we live in a state where public transportation = anti-Michigan, because of our automotive jobs, I can understand those who look down on bicycle riders. I love muscle cars and trucks but I would gladly give up $5000+ a year in loan, gas, insurance, oil changes and repairs if I could. I am not a fan of the spandex riders on the roads either but their bicycles are not fit for sidewalk riding as they ride too fast for pedestrians and their skinny tires are not made to take on curbs. That is another debate but these guys aren’t who this event is aimed towards. It is aimed at 12,800 people who live in Rochester and the 71,500 people who live in Rochester Hills and promoting their coming to downtown by bicycle via the trails and walkways. These aren't the people holding up traffic on the roads. Even if 1/16 of those people came into town, that would be about 5000 bicycles. I'm just suggesting that we could give up a few parking spaces to make cycling downtown look more attractive to those who want that option.
Ryan Katulic July 28, 2012 at 08:17 AM
Hey Richard I donated that stand as well as an additional stand that is currently being installed off the Clinton River Trail at the Letica parking lot. We will be announcing details and advertising the both of them soon!
Jerry Snook September 04, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Ouch! The level of condescension toward bicyclist is pretty amazing. I would like to clarify a few things . . . nobody is trying to suggest bikes replace cars to transport groceries home, though in limited means it can be done; no one in "spandex" thinks of themselves as Lance Armstrong, and very few serious bicyclist hold Armstrong in high esteem anymore; it's easy to say "bike racks aren't important" if you don't bike or dislike bicyclist . . . I'm sure their are some bicyclist that would say the same about parking lots; side walks and even bike paths can be downright dangerous for bicyclist, as motorist often do not look for bicycles before crossing the paths; Bicyclist don't have a "hey look at me attitude" . . . while the clothing is unique it is very functional, the color is an extra "bonus". And lastly, yes group rides can be troublesome for cars; yes, you may have to slow down, but personally, I have never felt safer on the road, in thousands of miles over the years, then when I'm in a group of 50 or 60. There is just no way for large groups to take to a bike path, it would create it's own problems of safety for pedestrians. We've got two lane roads, we are tax payers, and state law allows us to ride on the road. We ask your tolerance and patience. There are many worse things that could happen in a community than having "roving gangs" of fit people that are bicycling through your town.

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