Tuesday 11 March 2014

Where to park if commuting to Melbourne CBD

Summary: The City of Melborne has yet to provide sufficient free (or low cost) undercover bike parking in the central business district (CBD) for commuters. If your workplace doesn't have a garage with bike parking your options include using other workplace's garages, getting early enough to the limited free, undercover parking, paid parking facilities, train station lockers/cages or the best of the uncovered bike hoops.

Streetsblog NYC

1. The City of Melbourne's commuter bike parking capacity doesn't match its ambitions
- The City of Melbourne, in its 2012-2016 Bicycle Plan claims to want Melbourne to be a genuine cycling city and one of its 2016 targets is clearly about increasing cycling as a weekday commuting alternative: "15 per cent of all vehicles entering the central city during the morning peak will be bicycles".

- It also apparently recognises that "cycling facilities are an important enabler to encourage people to ride to work" and references Les Robinson's report for the City of Sydney: What enables cycling and safe cycling behaviours?. This report clearly states:
"For commuter cycling, the provision of showers and secure bike parking facilities is well recognised as an important enabler of the trip to work."
What enables cycling and safe cycling behaviours?
However, the City of Melbourne appears to believe that secure bike parking facilities should either be provided by employers or by private enterprise:
"A majority of people currently park their bicycles in off-street private facilities, such as workplaces or homes. For shorter trips, shopping or entertainment many people lock their bicycles to bicycle hoops provided by the City of Melbourne. There are currently over 2000 on-street bicycle hoops."
City of Melbourne - 2012-2016 Bicycle Plan
Hence, the City of Melbourne's Bicycle Plan and website both reference on-street, unsheltered bike hoops as its primary bike parking responsibility (see diagram below). Almost none of these bike hoops could be considered secure bike parking suitable for commuters. See: City of Melbourne - Where to park your bike

City of Melbourne - map of bike hoop locations

- Commuters do require secure bike parking facilities - a safe place to park their bike for 8-10 hours that is covered from the rain, is not exposed to deliberate or accidental damage and is not at high risk of being stolen. Instead of telling us the proportions of cyclists who currently park in off-street, private facilities or how satisfied existing commuters are, the real question is how many people would commute by bike but don't have access to off-street, covered facilities? I expect this includes the majority of workers in hospitality and retail in the Melbourne CBD.

2. The City of Melbourne claims there is no unmet demand in existing public, secure bike parking facilities and isn't prioritising greater provision
Its Bicycle Plan reports that:
"In 2008 the City of Melbourne, with significant funding and support from the Victorian Government, established bicycle pods including secure bicycle parking, change and shower facilities at the City Square commercial car park and RMIT. Demand has not outstripped supply in these locations but more could be done to promote these sites."
City of Melbourne - 2012-2016 Bicycle Plan
- The City Square Bike Pod is the only covered, secure bike parking provided by the City of Melbourne and available for free to any cyclist. It has just 32 bike parking spaces. Which begs the obvious question: How will any more city workers - who don't have access to off-street, employer facilities - take up cycling to the city without a covered, secure-enough place to park? It appears that providing suitable, free or very cheap parking for these city workers is not a priority for the City of Melbourne.

- To contrast with the map of its 2,000 bike hoops, I have created a map of the City of Melbourne's covered, secure-enough, free bike parking facilities - yes, there is only 1 pink dot for the location of the 32 spots at the City Square Bike Pod.

- Expensive Bike Pods (with showers, change rooms, lockers) are not actually what most commuters need - the minimum they need is a safe place to park their bike for 8-10 hours that is covered from the rain, is not exposed to deliberate or accidental damage and where their bike is not at high risk of being stolen. And this is what genuine cycling cities in Europe provide - typically just large, covered facilities to lock your bike for a long period and which lessen the risk of damage or theft. This doesn't have to be costly, the main priorities are cover from the weather and having the bike out of the way of possible damage or theft by other street users. E.g. NYC created 36 bicycle parking shelters and lists them here: NYCDOT Sheltered Bicycle Parking Locations

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Jim Kelly

3. Park at your workplace building's garage which should have bike parking
- If the building you work in has a garage it should have bike parking available for free. Garages are the best place to park your bike as they are monitored by CCTV and often have security personnel around. You should use a U lock regardless of how secure it seems. If necessary, you can keep a U lock permanently at work attached to the racks.

- Talk to your building services manager to find out any garage or bike cage access requirements. Some garages are simply open and you can ride straight in and park at any free rack. Others have bike cages that require you to get a swipe card first to access them.

- Sometimes the place you work at may not have a garage (or sufficient bike parking) but your employer may have offices at a nearby building which does. Find out all possible buildings nearby you can use and pick the best one.

4. Park at a nearby workplace building's garage that has spare bike parking
- If your own employer doesn't have access to a garage, the next best option is to find a nearby garage that does have spare bike parking capacity (e.g. racks still spare at 9am). Many garages do not require card/code access and you can simply ride in. The main thing you have to be careful of is the hours the garage is open. E.g. At my work, the garage gate shuts after 7pm and you need a security pass to obtain access.

- If you need to find out if a workplace garage has accessible bike parking without needing access cards or employer ID, try riding there during business hours and trying to access the garage. If you are stopped by security you can advise you are visiting for a meeting.

5. Use the free, undercover parking at the City Square Bike Pod
- The City Square Bike Pod provides 32 free, undercover, secure parking spots - access is from Flinders Lane just east of the Swanston Street corner. The Bike Pod also provides:
two self-contained showers, a basin and mirror, changing space, clothes hooks and floor heating.
See: City of Melbourne - Bike Pod at City Square

- If the City Square Bike Pod is near where you work and you don't have access to undercover, secure parking, please do use it. As noted in point #2 above, the City of Melbourne claims that "demand has not outstripped supply" for its 32 spaces. It's vital that cyclists without better options use this facility so that more free, undercover, secure bike parking can be provided in other parts of the CBD.

6. Pay annual fees for cheap bike parking
- For example, Federation Square has a secure bike cage facility on Level 3 of the Fed Square Car Park. An annual membership costs $126.40 and a one off charge of $12 for the access card. For more details see: Federation Square - Parking

- Please let me know of any other cheap annual bike parking memberships in the CBD and I will add them.

7. Use paid full service bike facilities if you can afford it
- BikePark is a full service bike storage facility located on the north bank of the Yarra Trail bicycle path besides Queensbridge Street. It offers services including: secure bike storage, clean showers with towel and soap, lockers, hairdryers, irons, air conditioned change rooms and same day bike maintenance.

- Casual parking is only $2/day while access to showers and lockers cost around $10/day (this gets cheaper the longer the membership term). See: BikePark Casual and Membership fees

8. Use bike racks or lockers at CBD train stations
- Unfortunately, stations in or nearest the CBD have zero or very few bike parking facilities. You should contact Public Transport Victoria to ask for more bike parking to be provided in the CBD. See: Public Transport Victoria - Feedback and complaints

- Public Transport Victoria - Premium Stations list
- Southern Cross station has 6 racks.
- North Melbourne station has 2 bike lockers.
- Richmond station has 2 racks.
- Flagstaff station, Melbourne Central station, Flinders station and Parliament station have no bike facilities.

- However, train stations outside of the CBD do typically have bike parking and storage facilities: racks, cages and lockers.These are useful if riding your bike to a train station and then catching a train to the CBD.
- Clifton Hill station has 11 racks and 6 lockers.
- Brighton Beach station has 5 racks, 22 lockers and a Parkiteer cage.

9. Try University city campus bike parking only if there is spare capacity
- University bike parking will typically not have any spare capacity but it may free up during holidays or winter.
> RMIT bike facilities
> Australian Catholic University bike parking

10. Commercial car parks with bike parking
- Some commercial car parks in the CBD may have free or low-cost bike parking. If I can collate details of those that do I will add them here. Please let me know.
See: Parkopedia - Melbourne car parks
- RACV Club (501 Bourke St) has bike parks in its garage near the lifts. Probably for members only but can apparently walk in with bike.

11. Street-level bike parking that is more protected than typical bike hoops
- If you can't find or afford any undercover, secure bike parking there are a few spots that are preferable to the most common bike hoops that sit on busy streets and are fully exposed to the weather and damage from passersby. I will collate suggested locations below, please send me any you're aware of.
- Bicycle hoops outside the State Library and City Library.
- Bicycle hoops around 2 Treasury Place and St Andrews Place. While almost all of these are not undercover they are not exposed to significant pedestrian flows and there are security personnel nearby.
- Bicycle hoops outside QV shopping centre on Lonsdale St. Not undercover but a little more protected from passersby.

12. If riding to a train station and then catching a train try Bike lockers or Parkiteer bike cages
- Bike lockers are available at many Melbourne premium train stations. They are free to use and you simply need to pay a refundable bond of $100 for new lockers with built-in locks or $50 for lockers requiring the customer to supply a lock. Lockers can be booked at Premium Stations for three months at a time, and renewed without paying any additional bond. See: Metro Trains - Bike Facilities

- Parkiteer bike cages are undercover, secure places to park your bike at 69 train stations around Melbourne - typically starting a few km from the CBD. Entry to the Parkiteer cage is provided by an electronic card system, providing 24 hour monitored access. There are no ongoing costs. After paying the $50 refundable security deposit for the access card, you can use the cage as often as you like at no charge. See: > Bicycle Network - Parkiteer Bike Cages

Further Info:
City of Melbourne - Where to park your bike

Bike Pod at City Square (free)
- Free but busy. Has 2 showers and 32 bike parking spaces.

BikePark Melbourne (paid)

Biking Rules NYC - Bike Parking

What Would Get Americans Biking to Work?

Bicycle Parking, Storage and Changing Facilities (VTPI)

Pedalling a bespoke concept

Bike parking Euro-style

Where to park your bike? The question often missing from the cycling debate

The bicycle parking handbook (Bicycle Network) - For employers or building managers

VicRoads: Bicycle parking & end-of-trip facilities

How More Bike Parking Could Make Cities Better For Everyone