SeaTac/Airport Station Bike Lockers and Racks
Bike Parking at SeaTac (photo by Oran)

Sound Transit announced plans on Tuesday to construct approximately 277 additional bicycle parking spaces over the next 16 months.   Funded by federal grants, the 173 lockers and 104 rack spaces (13 racks, 8 spaces per rack) will be placed at selected park & rides, Link stations, and Sounder stations.

Cycling investments such as these are some of the easiest and most cost-effective means of combating the ‘last-mile’ problem, especially at far flung suburban park & rides.  For a cost of $464,000 (or $1,675 per space) they’re not exactly cheap, yet they cost a tiny fraction of the same number of car spaces and they leave a small physical footprint on station areas.     Anything that makes non-SOV multimodality more attractive has our support.

The locations are:

  • Auburn Station, 28 lockers
  • Columbia City Station, 7 lockers and 2 racks (2010), and 46 more lockers and 1 more rack (2011)
  • DuPont Park & Ride, 6 lockers and 1 rack
  • Federal Way Transit Center, 8 lockers
  • Kent Station, 22 lockers
  • Lynnwood Transit Center, 20 lockers and 4 racks
  • Mercer Island Park & Ride, 4 lockers
  • Othello Station, 8 lockers and 2 racks
  • Rainier Beach Station, 16 lockers
  • South Everett Freeway Station, 3 racks
  • South Hill Park & Ride, 8 lockers

58 Replies to “Sound Transit to Add 277 Bicycle Parking Spaces”

    1. My guess would be mainly the planning for where to put them and the installation, though the boxes are probably not cheap either.

  1. Got to be the lockers.

    The bike racks run about $500, plus install…say double the cost to $1,000 installed…for 8 spaces, or $125/bike.

  2. By the way, this shouldn’t just be for suburban stations. The Husky Stadium Station in particular will be very close to the Burke-Gilman and so will make a great bike-train transfer point if there are appropriate facilities. There is a *lot* of bike parking at UW but the secure areas and most of the facilities like showers are only open to UW employees so the Link station should provide these for the public.

    1. I am really hoping that there is a bike mega-lot for the Husky Stadium station, as that is going to be THE main station for a lot of folks who want to do a mixed commute to work. I for one would be one of those, especially in winter when I don’t want to do the full ride into downtown on my bike

    2. Right, and not only is it near the Burke-Gilman, it is the farthest station in its direction, so the bigger bikeshed it can support, the better.

  3. Why lockers? What’s the advantage over bike racks? Is it a security issue? Do people in Seattle not lock their bikes?

    I am just curious, because living in Amsterdam, I have never seen a bike locker before. The bike racks seem to work just fine, and this is in a climate similar to that of Seattle.

    1. I have had a lot of stuff (panniers, lights, cyclometers) stolen from my bikes in Seattle. If you can put the bike in a secure location then you don’t need to worry about that. They are also a guaranteed dry parking spot.

    2. I’m guessing that a bike locker would have the opposite use of a bike rack. You’d park your bike on the rack when you’re biking (say) from home to work and taking public transit for the last part of your journey. You’d rent a locker so that you could keep a bike at the station, and then take public transit from your home and bike the part between the station and work.

      Basically, racks are for short-term and lockers are for longer-term.

    3. Yes, on UW campus as least it’s a matter of having a guaranteed spot. They rent for about $70/year if I remember right.

    4. I have never had the need for a bike locker myself, but I have frequently felt the desire for rain protection at a place I might leave my bicycle for the entire day. Being exposed to the elements all day every day is not good for a bike, and a wet bike is less comfortable for the rider. Dry bike parking is harder to find than it should be.

      Those biking to a station have the option of parking or taking the bike on the train. I suspect that at some point the bike carrying capacity of Link will be an issue.

      What is the bicycle capacity of Link, long term? There are 2 hooks per car, plus a quota of 2 standees with bicycle per car, I believe, so 4 bikes per car, and up to 4 cars per train, ultimately, so 16 bikes per train… With ULink headways of, say, 3 minutes, that’s 20 trains per hour, 320 bikes per hour per direction… is that about right? Of course, long before that limit is reached, various issues would arise. To the extent it’s difficult or stressful to bring bikes on board, it’s all the more reason we provide generous bike parking at Link stations.

  4. Many will be happy for $1675 perspace as opposed to as much as $40,000 per space at a “Park n’ ride” – seems like a very smart investment to me.

  5. The bike lockers at SODO station are never used. Neither are the bike racks. Why don’t they just move them to some other station(s) instead of buying new ones?

      1. But, they are not being used now. So, why buy more new ones now? Move the ones which are not being used to a different location. If, at some point in the future, all existing lockers and racks are being used, THEN buy more.


        Does ST have excess money right now that they are looking for things to waste it on? I did not realize that ST had excess revenues at this time.

      2. It’s probably not worth the labor cost to move them now, only to install again them in 10 (or whenever years).

        Did you read the post? It explicitly states the money was a federal grant. That means ST can’t use the funds for just anything.

      3. So, ST will just waste the money, instead of not accepting the grant. lol Typical ST management style.

        Obviously, the current bike lockers and racks at SODO should never have been installed, since they are virtually never used.

        And people wonder why governments keep saying they are going broke…

      4. Sometimes you have to install things to find out if they’ll be used.

        Anyway, is more bike lockers at several stations a bad thing? ST should be glad the grant is available.

      5. Build to anticipate future demand. They don’t build car parking lots for just present demand, don’t they?

      6. It’s sort of hard to move parking garages from one location to another.

        Bike lockers are easy to move.

    1. Oh and you’re wrong. I have seen a few of the lockers used with bikes inside them.

      If bike lockers were that easy to remove, I’d be concerned about their security.

    2. How do you know they are not being used? Do you personally check them several times every day?

  6. This blog’s level of envy over the popularity of bicycling in some European cities approaches being a fetish, so I’m surprised with the frequent posts on STB of “how they do it in Amsterdam or Copenhagen,” it’s not being pointed out in this post that in Amsterdam or Copenhagen they get along just find without bike lockers.

    1. I won’t speak for Amsterdam, but Copenhagen DEFINITELY has subscription access parking for transit users. I have seen a variety of types, including cages and rooms with smart card access, as well as individual lockers. At major stations, parking on the open racks is chaotic, so having some guarantee of a parking spot makes sense. As it does here!

      Bike theft is a big deal in Copenhagen, and I believe in Amsterdam as well. A big difference between there and here is the average cost of a bike used in flat Copenhagen is significantly less than we see in racks around here. Bike theft is Copenhagen is routine enough that insurance companies and the police deal with it on a very routine and casual basis – reimbursement for another cheap bike is a couple days away. Not sure we would tolerate a “go buy another” philosophy around here.

      1. Thanks for weighing in Phil. Oran, you’ve contributed some great work and maybe you had nothing to do with the selection of this photo… but ouch; there’s not a single bike in the racks as shown. OTOH, it makes the parking lot look full. The truth hurts?

      2. The photo was taken just a week after the Airport Station opened for service.

        It’s the post author’s choice of photo, which permission to use was granted by placing it in the Flickr pool.

        I can say with certainty that the racks have been used at least once as I personally locked my bike to them.

      3. I don’t know about subscription parking in Amsterdam, but they do have multi-story garages for bike storage near the train station ( :) And the #1 pastime in Amsterdam (ok, #2) is stealing bikes. So much so that the have to dredge the canals annually to rid them of all the bikes that have been thrown in after having been stolen. The general rule of thumb is to buy a €15 bike and a €25 bike lock. So bike lockers could be of use, but the sheer number of bikes makes that pretty much impossible. So instead, just buy a cheap bike you don’t mind losing.

        I think this also points out a big difference between the two places. I don’t know many folks riding around Seattle on $20 bikes. Usually it seems the commuters here get $500 bikes (or more). Part of/Most of that is probably the hills, but I also think it’s a different mindset. Over there biking around is generally just a way to get around whereas here it’s often seen as a sporting activity only. Just look at all the commuters in full-on bike racing outfits.

    2. From my few days in Copenhagen, most bikes I saw were not even locked to a rack or a pole, just to themselves. At some stations, I saw what Phil describes, as well.

      I feel they aren’t as worried about having their bikes stolen/vandalized as here, through a combination of the larger number of bikes, the bikes’ lower value, and a better general respect for people’s bikes.

  7. So the bike lockers … how does one use them? Do you have to buy a key from SoundTransit?

    Oh yeah. The bike lockers at the airport station have ZERO users as well.

    1. Can you see inside the lockers, or do they have a Vacant/Occupied indicator? Or have you just never seen someone put a bike into or take a bike out of a locker?

      1. You can see inside the lockers at SODO. They have clear plastic side panels. Have you never seen a bike locker at a Link station?

      2. I never noticed bike lockers at Link stations, but I’ve only ever ridden it three times. And as far as I can remember those are the first lockers I’ve ever seen with clear side panels. A security measure, I imagine.

      3. They have a window in them so you can see inside. For my job I hhave to pick up/drop off stuff near SeaTac quite a lot and I take Link as much as possible and they are always empty regardless of time of day or weather.

    2. That makes sense… because no one lives or works in SeaTac. But seriously, have you checked with ST? How do you know?

    3. I thought the lockers at SeaTac would get some use, there’s actually quite a large residential neighborhood just to the east of the station. Maybe huffing jet exhaust while biking limits its popularity in SeaTac.

    4. I would use the lockers more if I could easily rent them on demand. The way it is set up right now requires a $50 deposit for the key for a year. Therefore, only regular commuters will use it.

      I’ve asked ST about that and they say these will still be the same kind but more on deemed lockers will be coming soon under ST2.

      1. it might help if they actually stated this on the lockers. there is no signage whatsoever explaining how one can use them or what they need to do.

        They really should work like the lockers at airports or bus stations where you pay to unlock the locker when you’re done with it

  8. The lockers will cost $50 per year and are obviously a large percentage of the cost – The Cora bike racks, my favorite, are a much less expensive option – both for ST and the cyclists.

    I find it interesting that facilities for cyclists are setting the trend for demand-management pricing. The fee is there to keep cyclists from getting a free locker and not using it – not really to offset the cost of providing the locker. We can only hope that parking fees for cars at busy park and rides aren’t far behind.

    I’m still holding out hope for on-demand lockers though – I suspect they would bring in *far* more revenue and would have the option of being used by multiple users throughout the day. At $2 per user per day, they may just pay for themselves within a reasonable time-frame.

    1. Price of the lockers jumped from $15 a year up to $50 a year in 2009. The $50 refundable key deposit was also added in 2009. I have one of the fourteen lockers at the Sumner Station and I use mine year round. In 2008, when gas hit $4 a gallon, the ST station agent told me that ST had a waiting list for a locker, at that time, which numbers about 25. Today it is likely much shorter. However, when the price of gas returns to $4 a gallon–notice I said when not if–demand will again rise for bike lockers and bike racks.

      As for the advantages of lockers over racks, there are several.

      It’s a guaranteed parking spot whereas with racks it’s first come, first served. [Just wait. The future will get here.]

      On a wet, rainy day, I don’t exit the Sounder Train to sit on a wet bike seat. [It has been known to rain periodically in and around the Puget Sound.]

      It’s a bit faster and easier to get my bike into a locker rather than using my bike lock to lock it in a rack.

      Finally, there’s greater security from a locker. You can’t get your bike, your lights, your pump, the tools in your seat bag, your fancy gel filled seat, etc. stolen quite as easily with your bike locked in a locker. A really determined individual could cause a lot of damage and steal a bike out of a locker, but that’s destruction of ST property and the King County Sheriffs Office would be reviewing security tapes, interviewing witnesses who heard all the racket, etc. to hunt down the person responsible. A busted lock and your bike is missing from the rack? Oh well, call someone who cares.

  9. A few quick points – the costs do seem steep but it’s 10 to 30X less than what building auto parking spaces cost, depending on the facilty.

    Some of the factors driving the costs include the design work, siting, lighting, shelter, safety (CPTED), etc. It’s often more than just going out and bolting down a new rack or shelter. Will we need more lighting? Do we have a safe spot that’s visible with no hiding places? Will we need to expand the roof? These are just some of things factored in the cost.

    Over the long run, we’re doing a lot more work these days to better predict bike demand and integrate adequate bike facilities in all of our projects. It’s cheaper to do this work during project design than retrofit built facilities.

    And yes, we’re also looking at on-demand style shelters/lockers. While nobody really needs another example from Portland, here’s a good one:

    Lastly, just because a locker or rack is empty when you pass by doesn’t mean it’s not rented or being used that day.

    Bruce Gray
    ST Spokesman, bike rider

    83′ Pinarello Dolomite

  10. Bike Parking at SeaTac (photo by Oran)

    A little clarification please. This looks a lot like the Holiday Inn in Renton that used to have a Cessna on the roof until the FAA complained. The title indicates SeaTac which would infer the airport (where I don’t think there is a P&R lot) or TIB (where I don’t thing there is a hotel).

    1. It’s the station plaza at S 176th St & International Blvd a.k.a. the SeaTac city side of SeaTac/Airport Station. Enter that intersection into Google Maps and you’ll see exactly where it is.

      The parking lot you see is the Park N Fly, one of numerous private airport parking services. There is a small drop off and pick up lot to the right of the photo.

      That is a Holiday Inn but not in Renton.

      1. OK, thanks. The intersection entered into Google Maps points south of the Holiday Hotel but now I know where it is. Interesting how the building architecture is identical to the one in Renton. Probably hundreds were built with that same building plan. Not surprising the bike lockers and racks are unused. Not exactly bike friendly roads around there. I guess if you get Federal money you spent it. Interesting that in the photo the lot looks to be full of nothing but SUVs.

      2. The streets may not be the most bicycle friendly around there, but there is a pretty big residential area just to the east of the station with lots of multifamily housing. I would be surprised if the racks go unused for long, it just takes time for people to discover that it’s an option.

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