Wednesday, January 31, 2007

bike parking mapped online

We were tipped off by the WBWC mailing list that getDowntown is working on a sort of inventory of Ann Arbor bike racks. The map they are working from is available online and they appear to be open to contributions. The map is part of an effort to identify potential improvements to downtown bike parking. If you've been bitching about the poor quantity or quality of bike parking downtown, this is your chance to take action.

While a complete inventory is not the goal of the project, this map can also be used to locate bike parking. On our initial browsing, there are still a lot of racks, hoops, and lockers missing from the map, especially non-DDA locations (across Main from the DTE Building, In front of Casey's, and all UofM locations for example). Maybe they are only counting public racks in the DDA boundaries? All the same, even if gDt doesn't intend to include all locations in their study, we hope they will eventually turn over this map (or make a duplicate) so that cyclists can continue to fill it out.

From the email:

Each marker has comments, and you can go far enough to
add photos, links, and so on to each marker. The markers are color coded, where red indicates damaged racks, green indicates potential locations for new racks, and yellow indicates specific racks/areas that need more capacity. One problem with the map is that it is difficult to convey information about a general area as opposed to a specific point (i.e. South University or Main Street).
The obvious missing item is locations that currently provide sufficient, useful bike parking. It would seem that such information would be helpful for both gDt's project and the cycling community. Maybe that is where you can chip in.

Whether or not you'd actually use this map to find bike parking, it's good to have a full inventory of facilities. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt at building one, so thanks to gDt for taking the initiative. We can't actually imagine pulling up to our downtown destination on a bike and then checking a map to find parking. If a bike rack isn't immediately obvious, we're looking for some other fixed object to lock up on. Of course this is exactly what gDt is trying to prevent with the inventory. We sure hope it improves the options as we know we probably shouldn't be locking up to stop signs and building fixtures.

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