They’ve taken away an on-street parking space in downtown Bend to put in a rack for 12 bicycles. The politically correct response would be to jump up and down and cheer, but pardon me if I don’t join in.
The multi-bike rack, called a “bike corral,” was installed in a parking space in front of Thump Coffee on Minnesota Avenue. It cost about $3,500, according to The Bulletin’s account, and was paid for by the Downtown Bend Business Association and individual contributors.
Kent Chapple, co-owner of Thump, said the corral was a solution to bike congestion near his shop. “It was really apparent that there just wasn’t enough capacity for all the bikes that wanted to be in this area,” he said. “If we can serve 12 people with one parking spot, that’s 11 more people down here we can serve than with that one [vehicle] parking spot.”
Thump appears to be a sort of haven for bikies. (That’s a new word I made up to identify bike enthusiasts, like “foodies” for food enthusiasts.) Chapple ride a bike to work, as do almost all of Thump’s 10 employees, according to The Bulletin.
This bike corral took away only one parking space out of about 2,000 in the downtown area. But don’t bet that it will be the last one. The Minnesota Avenue corral “could become a prototype for future bike parking structures downtown,” according to The Bulletin’s account.
Is there a legitimate need for even one on-street bike corral, let alone a bunch of them? True, many people ride bikes downtown, and more power to them. But a bike can be parked almost anywhere – chained to a tree, a signpost or a light fixture as well as a bike rack.
In 25 years of visiting Bend’s downtown I’ve never had trouble finding a parking space for a bike. Obviously I can’t say the same about a car.
The downtowners have plans to install 28 more hitching posts for bikes on the sidewalks, and I’m cool with that; it falls into the category of encouraging bicycle use. But when you take away parking spaces for cars and give them to bicycles, that’s an attempt to discourage car use – and that’s too much like trying to dictate other people’s lifestyle for me to feel comfortable with it.
It’s not hard to figure out what the bikies’ agenda is, beyond the ostensible motive of relieving alleged bicycle congestion. “We just want to promote Bend’s bike friendliness,” Chapple told The Bulletin. “We wanted to send a signal that Bend was a bike-friendly community.”
Sending such a signal is okay. But by taking away a parking space they’re also sending a signal – intentionally or not - that Bend, or at least the downtown part of it, is a car-unfriendly community.