Dodgeville

Random Wanderings and Wonderings

Posts tagged: parking

Secure bike parking in downtown Kitchener

By , September 19, 2012

The new parking garage at Charles & Benton in downtown Kitchener has a secure bike parking corral. Similar to Toronto’s bike stations,  Kitchener has two of these facilities downtown now with at least one more planned. Where access to Toronto’s bike stations comes at the cost of a daily fee or monthly membership, Kitchener requires only a one-time $10 deposit.

My hotel last weekend was directly across the street from the Charles & Benton facility, so I thought I’d give it a shot for locking up even though the city doesn’t recommend using the secure corrals for overnight storage. I’d rather take my chances in a secure facility than leave my ride in the hotel’s bike rack tucked away in the darkest corner of its own parking garage. By the time I picked up my pass at City Hall and wheeled over to the garage on Friday afternoon, the sun was out and it was a gorgeous day, in contrast to the mudstorm I’d ridden through just a couple of hours earlier.

Here’s a quick look at the still-shiny-new garage and corral. Cyclists get a separate curb cut and ramp into the garage (between the bollards on the right side of the picture), so there’s no waiting in line with cars or squeezing around lift gates:

Secure bike parking corral in downtown Kitchener

 

Here’s the sign at the front of the secure corral, showing cyclists how to use it and how to get access:

Secure bike parking corral in downtown Kitchener

 

Here’s my bike, complete with stylishly dangling shopping bag, ready to be locked up while I go spend the afternoon on the town:

Secure bike parking corral in downtown Kitchener

 

Here’s a sign assuring cyclists that the crowding problems will soon be alleviated. It was unclear to me if the promised additional racks were already in place or if there were more yet to arrive:

Secure bike parking corral in downtown Kitchener

 

And here’s a shot of my bike locked up among all the others in the corral. This was as crowded as it got all weekend long:

Secure bike parking corral in downtown Kitchener

This was 3 p.m. on Friday. Granted, the rain earlier in the day may have kept some people from commuting by bike, but I confess that I expected to see a few more bikes than that. I do know that at least one other person was in there over the weekend because he or she left a water bottle resting upright on the floor beside one of the racks on Sunday morning.

I’m always deeply appreciative of all kinds of good cycling infrastructure—not just bike lanes—and get a little alarmed when it seems underused. If facilities like this are frequently empty, it’s much harder to make the case to maintain them, never mind install more of them. With a rock music festival going on just a block away all weekend, I was keenly aware that my little bike was taking up the equivalent of five parking spots for cars. I’m assuming that the seeming lack of use was from a combination of the weather discouraging cyclists that day and the newness of the lockup which has only been open for a couple of months. Getting access also requires in-person registration during business hours a few blocks away at City Hall. There are a lot of bikes in Kitchener and I’ve got to think that it’ll be more heavily used as word gets out and more people register. I also think that the two big hotels within one block of this new garage should partner with Kitchener to publicize it and make it available to guests on a short-term basis as part of their room fee.

Meet Cliff

By , June 27, 2012
Meet Cliff. Licence plate ANFA 097

This is Cliff. He doesn't like me.

Hi everyone. I’d like you to meet Cliff. He was a passenger in this Mazda 5, licence plate ANFA 097. I don’t know if people ever Google their own licence plates, but I sure hope Cliff does. I also don’t know if Cliff is his real name, but that’s what I’m calling him. He looks kind of like a Cliff, doesn’t he? Much moreso than, say, a Norm, Sam, or Carla. He gave me a name too: “Asshole.” He calls me an asshole because he and his wife/daughter/mistress/something needed to park in the Cosburn bike lane on Wednesday evening for “just a second.” I’m an asshole because I straddled my bike behind their car, waiting for them to leave. I’m an asshole because I “could have just gone around.” I’m an asshole because it’s Cliff’s inalienable right to park for “just a second” in a bike lane directly in front of a No Stopping sign and maybe 6 feet away from an apartment driveway that had several empty visitor parking spots. Coincidentally, the No Stopping roadsign and adjacent off-street parking flank Cliff’s head in the picture above. Of course, I’m an even bigger asshole for pointing that out.

Cliff says I’m an asshole because his mother/secretary/masseuse/whathaveyou has her flashers on, and all that flashing lets you do anything you want. Cliff says I’m an asshole because his caregiver/trustee/court-mandated escort/whatever is breaking the law which, he assures me, doesn’t apply if you are stopping for “just a second.” Apparently, 4-way flashers temporarily suspend all nearby laws. Except the law of gravity, which cannot be repealed by mere light bulbs, no matter how many of them are flashing in unison. But even time itself is warped inside the event horizon of flashers: I was waiting behind them and dinging my bell for a full two minutes, while Cliff insisted repeatedly that they were parked in the bike lane for “just a second.” I’m lucky my atoms weren’t torn apart by the tidal forces, being, as I was, both so close and such a sizeable asshole.

Cliff says I should “just fuck off.” I’ve got some nerve, trying to ride my bike in the bike lane when it is clearly intended to be used for cars to park in. I mean, why else would they put it at the side of the road like that? I really ought to be ashamed, dinging my bell and so flustering Cliff that he was reduced to spewing a virtually incoherent string of obscenities at me. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s normally a fairly lucid fellow, though I have no direct evidence of it. I do have direct evidence of that pulsing vein in his forehead. He really ought to have that looked at. Perhaps I should pity the poor persecuted motorist, unable to park in the bike lane for “just a second” without some uppity cyclist coming along and ruining his day by pointing out that he’s endangering others. But it’s really hard to pity someone who screams at you when you gently call him out on his anti-social behaviour. Hey Cliff, you think I’m the asshole? I’ve got news for you, buddy.

Anyway Cliff, I accept your apology for parking in the bike lane and endangering cyclists for no reason beyond your own perceived entitlement. I didn’t quite hear the actual words through all of your bluster and spittle, but I think I got the gist of it.

The unbearable stress of parking lots

By , December 8, 2011

Mall Madness tips

In the latest edition of Lifetime, a segment on the local CTV newscast, Pauline Chan gets some advice from psychotherapist Nicole McCance on coping with the stress of mall parking lots. McCance recommends that drivers prepare in advance for the stress: her advice on controlling lot rage is to eat a meal before you go to the mall, wear comfortable shoes, and make a shopping list. In the clip, McCance says that traffic in a parking lot is beyond people’s control, but that “they can control whether they’ve gone to the bathroom or eaten.” The segment summarizes her points in a bullet list that includes items like “breathe” and being “aware of [your] body.” This is hard-hitting stuff.

Okay, I know that it’s busy at Yorkdale at this time of year, and that finding a parking spot can be stressful. But seriously, if you need a therapist to remind you to breathe while prowling the lot and to eat a meal in advance so that you don’t starve to death while hunting for an elusive 150 square feet of asphalt on which to park your automobile, I feel comfortable making two statements about your quest:

  1. You’re doing it wrong.
  2. There’s a better way.

Strangely (or not), none of McCance’s suggestions involved avoiding the stress entirely by not driving a car to the mall, shopping online, getting your act together so that you can shop in the weeks before the holiday crush, or simply opting out of the annual consumer frenzy.

Me, I’m going to cope with mall parking lots the same way I always do: by taking a three minute stroll down to the Danforth where I’ll do what little Christmas shopping I still do. And I won’t have to perform breathing exercises, talk myself down from sidewalk rage, or circle the block endlessly looking for somewhere to park my conveyance. I feel the stress melting away already.

Two bucks to fiscal responsibility

By , December 6, 2011

Via Torontoist, Councillor John Parker was quoted by the National Post advocating for user fees on using swimming pools, visiting Riverdale Farm, and a variety of other things that his family never does:

Quite honestly, just off the cuff, I can’t see that a two dollar fee for anything is anything that should get anyone too riled up.

I’d like to agree with John Parker: two bucks is nothing to anyone. And in that spirit, I think that the councillor should advocate for the following non-riling fees to help fix this mythical budget crunch:

This may all seem radical, but hey, it’s just two bucks, right? And a two dollar fee for anything is nothing to get riled up about, right? Hell, I’ll even register and license my bike for a toonie. Whaddaya say, councillor?

Austin miscellany part 1

By , March 30, 2011

I’d written this post before I took my winter blogging break, but never quite got around to posting it. So, a few months late, here’s a random collection of sights I saw in Austin last year. There’s one more of these, and if I’m feeling energetic, I may eventually get around to that post about Calgary that I promised a year and a half ago.

W. 22-1/2 Street

The big problem with giving streets numbers instead of names is that occasionally, you need to squeeze in an additional street and are left with a dilemma: do you renumber all of the streets above it or come up with a new name? In Austin, there are a few of these half-streets downtown. They’re all just a few blocks long and thus don’t intersect whichever main street necessary to qualify as a full street.

From a Torontonian’s perspective, the transportation infrastructure of Austin outside of downtown seems to be overbuilt. As in any North American city, there’s lots of room for cars, but in Austin, everything seems to be a big four-lane road leading to lots of huge, three-quarters-empty parking lots. The picture below was taken just off a major highway at the T-intersection of two broad four-lane roads. In the ten minutes I was walking around the intersection mid-morning on a Friday, maybe three cars went past. The mall parking lot at the top of the T had about a dozen cars in it with room for a hundred and fifty more. My quiet two-lane residential street in east-end Toronto sees way more traffic than this crossroads.

Empty streets in rush hour

Despite the overbuilt car infrastructure, there are some nice touches for pedestrians. Many crossings receive a different surface treatment (as the bricks above) to alert drivers, and many curb cuts are textured to provide grip and warning to pedestrians that they’re entering a roadway. Still, despite the fine detail on the road crossing here, there isn’t a sidewalk in sight on the other side.

Empty parking lots abound

Here’s just one example of the many empty parking lots I encountered on my trip, this one at a business park on Friday morning. Not all parking lots were this empty, but it was common enough to make me wonder why parking was so abundant.

I also didn’t understand this sign, which I saw at the local Taco Cabana on my first day in Austin:

Parking only in a space

I thought it was strange that the sign carried an admonition to park “only in a space,” but chalked it up to poor writing or a bad translation. However, after spending a couple of days in the city, I understood the reason:

Bad parkers

As far as I can tell, no one in Austin can park. Every parking lot I visited abounded with cars taking up two or more spaces. Straddling a line was the most common infraction, but it wasn’t at all rare to see cars parked diagonally across spaces, in the lot aisles, blocking doors or curb cuts at building entrances, in the middle of crosswalks, and just generally ignoring all of the standard rules of conduct in parking lots. Maybe this is why parking seemed so abundant: city planners order up three times as many spots as necessary at any given building, figuring that each car is going to take up two or three spaces.

Incomplete overpass

Another oddity was the number of flyovers, ramps, overpasses, and underpasses that, like this one, just seemed to end somewhat prematurely with no sign of ongoing construction. It looks like they just build a section and then wait months or years until money is available to build the next section. It seems like a highly inefficient approach to infrastructure.

This being Texas, people take their trophies roadkill very seriously:

Parking for No parking

By , June 14, 2010

No parking. This means you.

I know that Toronto often gets slagged for inconsistent, poor, and confusing signage, but something makes me doubt that this sign is an official city effort, despite the credit at the bottom.

You know spring is coming when…

By , March 5, 2009

…the bike post right in front of the office that you’ve had to yourself all winter long is taken and you have to park three posts down the street.

Bring it on!

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