Monday, December 28, 2009

Mode-Neutral Parking

What if we made parking spaces that worked for cars OR bikes on a first come-first served basis? It would be completely mode-neutral. If everybody wants to bike, all the spaces go to bikes and the land is used more efficiently. If everybody wants to drive, all the spaces go to cars. If 10% of people want to bike, the spaces are divided accordingly.

Impossible you say? Hardly. I got the idea when I was looking at a concrete parking stop. You know, those little gray strips that keep you from driving a car too far forward in a parking space. Well, what if instead of those, we installed bike racks and kept the striping that's wide enough for a car?

Replace these

With these

These would serve the same purpose for cars: keeping them from driving too far forward. It would also serve as a place to park a bike. First come-first served. Mode-neutral parking. I like it because it's not a zero-sum game. You're not building bike parking at the expense of cars or pedestrians, you're expanding the concept of a vehicle parking space to include bikes. This makes it politically realistic in a region where most voters still drive most of the time. Share the road, share the parking.

By the way, you'd be able to fit about 3 bikes per space using this design and it would only cost a few hundred dollars per space. Considering the fortune we spend on other modes of transportation, it seems like a very reasonable public investment for retrofits, and a reasonable thing to require in zoning codes for new construction.


  1. I think you would have a problem with cars parking in the spots whether there is a bicycle parked there or not. Since the bike racks wouldn't take up any of the parking space it would provide no barrier to cars. You would have to design something where the bike rack flipped out into the parking space so that cars would physically not be able to park there.

  2. It will tend to cause inefficient use of space. You'd get just one or two bikes per car space, effectively eliminating all the car spaces. In fact, my cyclist friends would probably do that intentionally.


  3. Thanks for the feedback guys.

    I don't know if one or two bikes per space can be called any more inefficient than the status quo, since the typical car parked at a strip mall probably contains only one customer.

    If a car is entitled to the whole space, why not a bike, if they are likely to contain the same # of customers? I think you'd get a scramble for the closest parking spaces. Bikes would have an incentive to pack themselves in there.

    With regard to cars taking spaces already occupied by bikes, this could happen, but I think the fear of getting dinged by a bike trying to squeeze out, and proper parking enforcement could keep this problem in check. A device that folds out is intriguing, I only worry about the cost.

  4. I imagine you could do some concrete treatment that allowed bikes a wheel well in the concrete so that more bikes could park in a larger space. I understand the want to make people think one to one but if you want to encourage cycling I think allowing more parking for bikes would be beneficial, and get your point across as well.