OHSU's Bike Valet at the Aerial Tram on the South Waterfront (Image from BikePortland)
OHSU’s Bike Valet at the Aerial Tram on the South Waterfront (Image from BikePortland Blog)

Now that the major bus restructure has passed and questions about transit access to UW Station have been answered, it’s time to focus on another part of the access equation: bikes. While other Link stations (such as Rainier Beach) intersect some of our regional trails, it’s fair to say that the Burke-Gilman is in a league of its own, and that UW Station will be Seattle’s first high volume bike-rail transfer point. It’s important to get it right for several reasons:

  • Taking bikes on Link is a niche option that cannot scale. Assuming no luggage in the bike spaces, Link can currently carry 2 bikes per railcar (4 including standees), at a small added cost to boarding/adboarding time. With thousands of commuters taking to the Burke-Gilman every day, it is both unrealistic to believe that Link can absorb the likely demand and inappropriate to allocate excessive train space to bikes. (I say this as a person who bikes every day.)
  • Prior to Bicycle Master Plan implementation on Eastlake, switching to the train will be highly attractive for traffic-wary bike commuters from NE Seattle. Link represents a huge opportunity to expand the attractiveness of stress-free bike commuting, and it should be strongly encouraged by the city, UW, and Sound Transit.
  • One year after U-Link opens, the “West Approach Bridge North” project will be completed, providing a brand new dedicated bike path across SR 520 that ends at Montlake. This connection will be likely be very popular and a significant number of these riders can be expected to transfer to Link.
  • Access between the heart of the UW Campus and UW Station will always be fastest by bike, as transit services will skirt its edges on Pacific or Stevens Way. Pronto will help for pure last-mile connections, but we should expect a surge of riders on personal bikes as well coming up and down Rainier Vista.

So what is the current plan for bikes at UW Station? Sound Transit’s Bruce Gray told me that there will be capacity for 130 bikes at the station via ten Cora (coat hanger) racks. Unfortunately, Cora racks are generally recognized by bike professionals as not following best practices. Their top bar limits the size and style of bikes they can accommodate, they are generally awkward to use, and they never quite reach their claimed capacity limits.  We can do better.

Not enough (Photo by the author)
Not enough (Photo by the author)

So what could we do? Sound Transit has two plans for improving bike access over time. First, Bruce Gray said that “we do have room to quickly expand bike parking capacity if/when we start to see the demand out-stripping capacity after the station opens…and I’m betting lots of folks will be happy to hear we’re looking at staple racks.” Second, Sound Transit is in the process of procuring 122 new Link vehicles for the full ST2 buildout, and “each of these 122 new light rail vehicles we’re ordering will have space for four bikes hanging per car and two standing. That’s a nice bump from the what we have today. We’ll start rolling those into service in 2020 and they’ll all be available by 2022.”

Much will depend on UW, as Sound Transit noted that the station plaza “is basically an easement from them.” Happily, there is no shortage of space around UW Station, both in the adjacent surface parking lots and on the expansive station plaza. There is space for lockers or a bike cage, and these would both be improvements over the planned status quo.

But if we are serious about scalable bike access, we could take a cue from Portland and build a bike valet.  Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) operates the largest bike valet in North America, with up to 300 daily commuters parking their bikes at the base of the Aerial Tram. It is free for users, staffed Monday through Friday from 6am-7:30pm, providing exceptional security, exceptional parking density, and (for a fee) bike mechanic services. A smaller version at UW Station could be set up and broken down each day or week, incurring nearly zero capital cost and being able to be moved or temporarily closed for university events as necessary. It could be operated by a local bike shop or by work-study students at very low cost; two employees at $18/hour, 13 hours per day, 5 days per week, would cost approximately $150,000 per year, a tiny sum for the access it would provide. The empty plaza space to the east of the south escalator would be a perfect place to pilot the idea next March.

What do you think?

Photo by the Author

93 Replies to “UW Station Needs More Bike Parking”

  1. This should be a no-brainer, Zach. But I really do have a question about how much more it would cost to get the right bike racks from the get-go.

    LINK’s every elevator and escalator? The prison toilet seats? And 236 Breda machines that were equally disgraceful to the worlds of buses and dumpsters.

    Our system’s been allowed to get by with a really bad habit: Buy crap, tell yourself you’ll make it good later, and wait through as many budget cycles it takes for the people who specked it out to retire.

    Nancy Reagan had her share of misconceptions. She was wrong about making drug addiction a prison offense for everybody who couldn’t afford the recovery facilities she could. No offense to her fellow patient Jerry Garcia.

    But she was right that there are times when somebody has to “Just Say No!” And Glenn, speaking of the upper end of the Tramway, I hate the idea of one more thing in transit we have to be jealous of Portland about.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Nancy Reagan had her share of misconceptions. She was wrong about making drug addiction a prison offense for everybody who couldn’t afford the recovery facilities she could. No offense to her fellow patient Jerry Garcia.

      Mark, with all due respect, what on earth are you talking about? You can pack more WTFs into three sentences than even Bailo.

      1. You have to read between Marks lines to figure out what’s being said, always taking care to not fall down the rabbit hole into a parallel universe. Most retired bus drivers have this affliction, as they mostly talk to themselves all day – even worse for Link drivers. Driving Breda’s at top speed of 53 down the express lanes only exacerbates the problem.

      2. Mark is alluding to history you may not know. Nancy Reagan ran the completely insane “Just Say No” campaign against drug use, which is documented to have made illegal drugs *more* popular among those who saw the ads. She was an advocate of harsh, abusive mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug users as part of the War on Drugs. But she herself had abused drugs and gone through rehab (not prison), so she was a hypocrite.

        Mark mentioned all of this simply as an introduction to the phrase Just Say No.

    2. What’s wrong with talking about Portland? While we’ll host 10 outreach meetings and issue 3 surveys to discuss bike rack geometry at a single LRT station, Portland will go out in a weekend and fix the problem. Personally, I believe we should look more to Portland because they’re willing to try things and the risks typically have great rewards. It’s really not that difficult.

      Having visited the completely-full bike corral at the Aerial Tram, I can’t imagine why something like that at the UW Station wouldn’t be an enormous success. Even WSDOT knows it’ll be a significant draw to people on bikes and is looking at a second draw span. The Station itself is positioned and built for bicycle access with a stellar connection to the Gilman and SR520; a bike ramp over Mountlake, wide plazas to accommodate those on bike and foot, and bike tire grooves on stairways. Yet once people arrive by bike, bike storage, platform access, and bike capacity on trains are a clear issue. This feels like typical Seattle bike infrastructure planning: 90% amazing but missing that critical 2-block connection.

  2. “Much will depend on UW, as Sound Transit noted that the station plaza “is basically an easement from them.” Happily, there is no shortage of space around UW Station, both in the adjacent surface parking lots and on the expansive station plaza.”

    Then how about UW giving spot of land so buses can pull over and drop ST riders on Eastside, right next to station going NB on Montlake Blvd? Walking from Stevens Way a ridicous connection; in fast connection is big exaggeration.

    Definitely buy best bike racks to start with. Station have expensive art. Use art funds.

      1. There’s a number of different types I have seen around that could just as easily be art as bike infrastructure. They tend to be water-jet cutouts of various shapes in 1/2 thick steel plate or better. There are a couple near Camas that are in the shape of flying ducks.

  3. I’m sure the anti-bike crowd would have a field day with any proposal to spend another cent on cycling infrastructure, and as a cyclist I would say you’re giving up an easy source of income. Similar to car parking I would gladly pay a premium for a covered, dry, and secure bike spot near the station, if you add maintenance and cleaning services that could be done while I’m at work I would pay a premium for that as well.

    This is a case where I think the private sector should be invited into the process to propose a revenue generating solution (either a lease or direct income) for ST, which could then be used directly for station maintenance.

    Forget Portland copy Delft or Utrecht.



    1. Yes, definitely Netherlands is where we should look to for transit-bike integration ideas. When I was in Nijmegen a few years ago, they had two bike parkings at the train station – one was free with no security and one was smaller but covered and inside with security for 3 euros per day or so. Both were full. All had the double height racks. If UW was interested, you could even do discounted bike parking for students, which might encourage more to use that option.

      1. Bike parking is a huge concern here (in the Netherlands) and some projects are more successful than others. There has been much written about what has worked and what hasn’t, including in English, for any planner who simply cares to consider it.

    2. I like the idea of a two-tiered parking option. It would even better if the “secure” option allowed payment by the day, rather than the year, and also accommodated bike storage over nights and weekends. I live a flat mile and a half from the UW station and have a bike trailer that is easily large enough to handle a small suitcase. It would be really great if I could start biking to the station for airport trips, but I can’t even consider doing so until a more secure parking option is provided. There is absolutely no way I would consider leaving even my cheapest bike on an open rack for even one night, let alone several nights.

      It doesn’t have to be free – as long as it’s cheaper than a home->station round trip on Uber, that’s good enough.

    3. The Portland bike valet ( http://www.gobybikepdx.com/ ) is funded by OHSU because its cheaper than offering free parking. ST or UW might make the same calculation, but it is less clear who’s job it is supply parking for the UW station.

      1. Well, the UW certainly does not provide free parking now, so it’s not really a comparison or a cost savings for them to provide bike parking. There also isn’t anybody supplying parking for this station, although I could see the UW becoming interested in making the adjacent lot south of Husky Stadium a pay lot depending on its current usage for UW permit holders. Not disagreeing with the bike valet idea at all (especially the Netherlands-type option presented above), just noting that there isn’t a financial incentive like there seems to be for OHSU. This might be something where the ASUW (students’ org) and perhaps the faculty might be able to bring some pressure to bear.

        I have a feeling that over the next year or two the UW community will see the benefits of bike storage and (hopefully) bus pull-off space at the station and things will be in the works to fix them.

      2. Sound Transit has no problem providing free parking for automobiles at TIBS and Angle Lake. The precedent is set; it just has to be adjusted to embrace bicycles.

  4. I head a rumor that Sound Transit will not let Pronto set up a bike share station on Sound Transit property. Is this correct?

    1. Wouldn’t surprise me. ST, UW, Metro, WSDOT, SDOT – do any of these guys EVER cooperate with each other?

      1. It could be liability. Some lawyer probably warned Sound Transit of a potential lawsuit if anybody picking up a bike from a station on their property ever got into an accident. Not allowing it avoids that risk. Heck, it’s amazing Sound Transit is allowing any bike parking at the station, lest someone get into an accident and sue them.

      2. Nope. Hard enough to get any two of them into a room together, let alone coordinate or cooperate with each other.

        While I can’t speak to rumors, the transferal of Pronto (something ST had no control over already) to SDOT may create some additional “integration issues”.

      3. @ASDF2

        ST did built a pretty sweet two-level bike locker at Beacon Hill Station and has bike lockers all over the place, so they seem quite ok with bikes.

  5. I couldn’t agree more whole-heartedly. The limit to bike commuters at the station will be almost entirely defined by the limit to bike parking. If induced demand is the truth of highways, it is also the truth of biking in this location.


    1) The UW, like all universities, is a dense concentration of people with wildly different attitudes about biking than the norm. Campuses are terrible places to get around by car – there’s no grid, and no parking – populated by people who mostly can’t afford cars to begin with. But walking is slow. Translation: everybody bikes. (not every day or every route – hills and weather still exist – but everybody uses biking as part of how they get around.) The UW has 45,000 students and 20,000 staff.

    2) The Burke is a bike freeway (except that unlike a car freeway, it’s more efficient to get off and switch to a train when the option exists). It is grade separated, level, and bypasses terrible traffic. I’ve commuted to the UW from places as distant as Ballard and View Ridge, and it’s competitive with driving WITHOUT traffic (thanks to parking and stop lights), and way, way faster than the bus or a car in traffic. Which is to say that for a large swath of north Seattle, combined with link, biking will be the fastest, (and flattest, safest) route to where they are going. IF they can park their bike.

    1. If this is really as big as problem as it seems (and since I’m not a biker, I withhold my judgement), I think the riding population will make it known pretty quickly if the incoming facilities are inadequate. It’s not difficult to see things happening:

      1. More southbound riders will take their bikes on the train regardless of the racks on board.
      2. “Guerrilla parking” — people will chain bikes up to whatever they can find. Lampposts, the entry gates at the stadium, whatever.
      3. Loud public outcry from the bicycling population, always a vocal group and unlikely to go quiet now

      Perhaps the UW commuter services offices know what they’re in for; the rest of campus really does have a lot of bicycle parking.

      I particularly like the private bike parking idea, but that could be problematic given that the station is on land owned by UW, and by extension, the state.

      1. Totally. But it is unfortunate that we have to wait for the problem to get bothersome enough that lots of people complain, and then have a whole process of design review and debate, for a problem that should have been anticipated at the station-location phase.

    2. We seem to be heading towards limiting transportation choices through dynamic pricing. WSDOT and PSRC have pegged the freeways and major arterials to limit congestion by 2040. Parking at ST is dabbling in the pond with Mercer Island (maybe), so could transit vehicles and bikes be far behind with variable pricing for a seat or rack space, noting the most efficient mode is to stay put, or most environmentally conscious mode is to walk?

    3. “The Burke is a bike freeway ”
      While for most cyclists and many of the pedestrians using the BGT this perception is true, it factually is a multi-use trail and should be treated as such. With the light rail station coming on line in the spring this will become even more apparent as the number of all user types accessing the stations will increase.

      The space below the pedestrian bridge to the triangle is an ideal protected space for a bike cage, it’s a shame that this wasn’t included in the original design effort. Any protected bike storage will either be expensive lockers or a fenced in paddock/cage which will likely consist of galvanized chain link which will diminish the value of the expense and effort of the station design.

      1. Absolutely, ther are problems on the Burke due to high traffic with mixed modes. But the important part of the freeway analogy is that we’re looking at a largely grade-separated, high- capacity system, which is to say, a big old funnel of bikes into the station.

      2. “it factually is a multi-use trail and should be treated as such.”


        It can be a very annoying place to walk at times, and this should never be the case. Hopefully the new construction on the trail will help provide more space/separation.

    4. I agree completely with your second point. The Burke Gilman is the major bike thoroughfare in the city, There are plenty of people (myself included) that will only ride bike paths, and it is the main one. One of the few good things about the Husky Stadium station is that it connects well with the Burke. No other currently planned station will connect as well to a common bike path. In a few months, the fastest way to get from Fremont to Seattle Central College will be to ride a bike, and then take the train. For that reason, big bike facilities make a lot of sense.

      I also think a huge Pronto station is in order for the same reason. This is not your typical bike share usage. Most of the time, bike share is used to go a few blocks. But in this case, it does solve the “last mile” problem, and does so just fine. I would have no problem riding those bikes a relatively long distance on the Burke.

      1. “No other currently planned station will connect as well to a common bike path.”

        Mercer Island? Overlake Village and Redmond Technology Center will also connect to the 520 trail, albiet via a ped/bike bridge over 520.

  6. I’m sure some people stash bikes at stations for last mile purposes (although Pronto could mitigate this), but racks always seem to get a lot of abandoned bikes. When I was a UW student I remember UWPD culling the bike racks every so often and I was always amazed how many bikes were left there. Not sure if that was a lazy student thing or if it happens at park & rides or other stations (not being a Link rider myself).

    “It could be operated by a local bike shop or by work-study students at very low cost; two employees at $18/hour, 13 hours per day, 5 days per week, would cost approximately $150,000 per year, a tiny sum for the access it would provide. The empty plaza space to the east of the south escalator would be a perfect place to pilot the idea next March.”

    Not sure if you were already factoring this in, Zach, but I think that $150k budget works at $22/hour total labor cost (assuming 130 hours of labor per week), which is roughly where I’d see costs ending up if workers were paid about $18/hour with no benefits. Things like management, overhead, insurance, FICA, etc. all cost money. Overall it still seems like a rather small expense, especially if it can attract a large number of bicycles.

  7. This could be an Onion piece. “The UW needs more bike parking!” over a picture of a sea of bike racks with only one lone bike parked there. I also liked the part where we should spend $150,000 a year to staff it.

    1. Because nothing at all is going to change next March, right?

      (But yes, there could definitely have been a better picture. Maybe something from Portland.)

    2. Of course you know the station’s not open yet and that there’s no reason to be there at present. Lazy, troll, lazy.

    3. When I find myself agreeing with the troll I assume I must be missing something, but I must say the idea of employing people store bikes seems a bit extravagant to me. I assume we’d have a good laugh at the suggestion of valet parking at park and rides, and it’s not clear to me why our reaction to this idea should be any different. What’s the necessity and/or benefit, exactly? As long as we have a sufficient number of places to lock up your bike, what value-added does having someone else lock it up for us accomplish? I’m not in principle opposed to some Keynesian employment strategies for college bike geeks, but is that really the best use of ST resources?

      1. To me the differences are:

        • Staffed parking enables better parking density on a smaller footprint
        • Staffed parking provides enhanced security (bikes are much more easily stolen than cars)
        • The station is isolated but adjacent to the region’s best bike trail (creating a special case for enhanced access)
        • The current choice of racks will only achieve 50-60% of its stated density (can you imagine 13 bikes locked to each of those?)
        • 150k for a staffed valet costs the same as 1,000 Metro service hours, or 1/7th the cost of Metro’s hourly Route 25
        • We want to encourage bike parking relative to taking bikes on the trains (this is catering not to bikers but to passengers, prioritizing the storage of people rather than bikes on the trains)

      2. I’m still skeptical, but that’s a respectable case, so thanks. I didn’t know/realize the density increase it allows.

        Is the sense among riders that they’d rather deal with a valet that lock up their bike themselves? That’s counterintuitive to me–I’d much rather not have to deal with a person, especially during a morning commute–but I’m wiling to accept that I’m an outlier.

      3. I personally would not leave my bike locked outdoors and unattended for entire workday, but I would use a valet, locker, or cage

      4. You don’t have to lock each bike individually to a rack. You just have a single cage and the bikes can be arranged in any manner within the cage. The word “valet” sounds more grandiose than it has to be. It’s not really a luxury like a car valet; it’s just a way to manage a large number of bikes efficiently.

      5. I personally would not leave my bike locked outdoors and unattended for entire workday, but I would use a valet, locker, or cage

        Really? Why? Fear of theft? Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but in decades of locking up bikes for hours and even days in public in this city, all I’ve ever lost to theft was a light I left there once.

      6. What’s the deal with those U-locks attached to just a wheel? Do people take the rest of the bike and leave one wheel? Not that they could ride it anywhere; they’d have to put it in a car. The saddest thing I’ve seen is a U-lock attached to a forlorn frame and no wheels. They look so sad and abandoned, and I wonder if anyone is ever going to come back for them.

        When I had a bike I’d lock it up all day and never have the main parts stolen, but a few times I’ve had to replace the headlight or handlebar extensions. But that was in 2002; the thieves may be more active now.

      7. “Do people take the rest of the bike and leave one wheel?”

        The answer is rather simple. They find one bike where the frame is locked,but the wheel isn’t and take the wheel. Then, they find another bike where the wheel is locked, but the frame isn’t and take the frame. After putting the two together, they have a full bike, ready to ride.

        Yes, it does mean that the thief probably has to throw his loot on the back of a truck, at least initially, but the professional thieves probably prefer the truck option anyway because it scales better – you simply can’t carry away as much loot per hour if you have to ride off with each bike individually.

        The only way to defend against someone taking your frame or wheel is to make sure that both the wheel and the frame are locked up. Typically, I run a u lock through the frame and front wheel and supplement it with a cable lock running through the frame and rear wheel. Not only is everything protected by at least one lock, but to take the frame (the most expensive part to replace), the thief has to cut through two locks and change tools between them.

        In practice, this approach tends to be good enough, at least for day trips (I wouldn’t do it overnight like this). The key is that as long as your bike is even slightly more difficult to take than other bikes within a few feet of it, your probably ok. It’s when your bike is the easiest to take (or the only one out there to take) that you’re in trouble.

        And, if you’re looking for a pro tip to avoid carrying around the weight of two locks back and forth every day, try this. Just buy and extra set of locks and keep them at the station rack at all times. Overnight, the locks won’t be securing anything to the rack besides themselves, but so what – the point is that, the next day, the locks are there, ready to go, and you didn’t have to undergo the effort of carrying them. Just be sure to replace the locks every few years if you do this, though, as over time, they will rust.

      8. I always lock up the frame. I almost always lock up the front wheel (it is really easy to steal). I often lock up the back wheel too (it depends on how long I’ll be there and where it is parked). Life in the big city.

  8. Really great news that the new cars will have more bike hooks, especially side-by-side. During peak times it is awkward and uncomfortable to squeeze on with your bike though so encouraging more commuters to leave the bike at the station is a no-brainer.

    I’ve had a bike locker at the Columbia City light rail station for just over a year now – it is AMAZING!

    They should really consider adding at least a few banks of bike lockers at the new stations too, they will sell out instantly. It is so nice to roll up, whip my key out, roll my bike in, drop my helmet and perhaps a wet outer layer, close the door and walk away. You can even squeeze two bikes in if you are headed somewhere with a friend. The whole operation takes about 8 seconds and your bike stays clean, dry, and secure. No more taking every light and accessory off; threading a cable through the wheels; carrying and finagling with a heavy U-lock; and coming back to find your bike all dinged up from the rack.

    The rental fee is only $50/year but I would happily pay double. In fact, I pay $25/mo for another bike locker (which is much smaller, the stand-up wedge-shaped style) in my building downtown which is a bit steep but still a small price to pay for the convenience, security, and peace of mind (and a roaring deal compared to parking.)

    1. I like the idea of lockers, but the access mechanism is crucial. Simply renting them out by the year is wasteful, as the locker is tied up everyday, whether the owner is using it or not. Ideally, they should be rented out by the day, not by the year, and they should be accessed by the Orca cards all transit users already have, not by special cards that take special effort to obtain. The access mechanism can be quite simple – tap your Orca card to lock, tap the same same card again to unlock. When you unlock, your card gets charged for the number of days since it was last locked. (Don’t have money on your card to unlock – there’s a light rail station right there – just refill it at the TVM a few feet away).

      To solve the problem of what to do if the card is lost while your bike is locked with it, they can require the card to be registered. Then, you could reclaim your bike by paying $50 for a security officer to come and unlock your bike for you (after showing him a photo id that matches the registration on the card used to lock it).

      As an additional defense against abandoned bikes, there could be a 7-day timeout, after which any locked locker would unlock automatically.

      1. There’s one of these at Northgate and it’s great. http://www.bikelink.org/ Far less than $50 a year for an occasional user, and other folks can use it when you’re not. I wish they’d move it somewhere that people would use it. (and put in a Pronto station at Northgate, which would see use if the expansion happens). ORCA integration would be a dream.

  9. This is indicative of the issues surrounding station access. Each new station needs a multi-agency action committee to manage station access issues. This station will also have a ton of drop-off and pick-up activity and it’s also going to be messy, for example.

    1. I was thinking the same think. Uber and Lyft are probably going to get a ton of business from people headed to and from the station, in addition to lots of family members picking up and dropping off each other.

      The UW lot could also be the first real instance of what could become a de-facto paid P&R lot. The access to downtown is so quick, it is not at all inconceivable to see people paying $15/day to park there who aren’t willing to bike and don’t have time to ride the bus – especially if they live in Lauralhurst or View Ridge and Google Maps lists southbound Montlake as free-flowing.

      On Sundays, the station lot is actually free, at least currently. I can easily envision the lot overflowing with Seahawks fans on game days if the UW doesn’t do something to discourage parking on their property just to ride the train. It will be interesting to see what the UW ultimately chooses to do or not do with regards to their parking lot.

      1. There are several lots near STAS that advertise paid Link parking.

        Maybe that was UW’s plan all along. Push the station off-campus, make bus transfers as miserable as possible, profit on a paid P&R lot.

  10. UW’s parking department set up a bike valet during the last football game. Not sure if this is a regular occurrence.

    1. 1) It’s a lot cheaper to do it 6 times a year than on every weekday
      2) In the case of a football game, the users of the bike parking are all paying the UW money through their game tickets, so the UW has a vested interest in them. By contrast, how people get from Wedgwood to downtown on a weekday is not the UW’s concern.

  11. I’m not sure why all the pandering to bikers. We don’t give out free food to vegans for saving the planet. Set up something where they PAY to park their bikes for the day.

    And why would you want a lot of parking at the train station? Isn’t one of the purposes of biking to end up at your actual destination? Bike to the station, take the train, bike from the station to work / school / etc where they have tons of bike racks.

    The comparison to Portland isn’t valid. Their so far ahead in mass transit that you take take mass transit within walking distance to your final destination. The whopping TWO stations we’re adding isn’t an end-to-end solution for most people.

    1. “I’m not sure why all the pandering to bikers. We don’t give out free food to vegans for saving the planet. Set up something where they PAY to park their bikes for the day.”

      A still fairly low-cost method of bike parking isn’t “pandering” to bikers, any more than the huge expenditures on good rail infrastructure are “pandering” to transit riders. Even if you put bike valets all over the place, biking would still be an extremely cheap form of transportation to fund from a local government perspective.

      “And why would you want a lot of parking at the train station? Isn’t one of the purposes of biking to end up at your actual destination? Bike to the station, take the train, bike from the station to work / school / etc where they have tons of bike racks.”

      Wow, lots of misconceptions here:

      1. Some people who bike to the UW station will just walk or take transit from their stop in downtown.
      2. Some people will just use two bikes, one in each area (this actually happens in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, etc.)
      3. Some people will just use the bike share system downtown, which is very cheap for an annual pass.

      All of these things benefit from having more and better bike parking at the UW station.

      “The comparison to Portland isn’t valid. Their so far ahead in mass transit that you take take mass transit within walking distance to your final destination. The whopping TWO stations we’re adding isn’t an end-to-end solution for most people.”

      So? More transit stops and lines are planned, this isn’t the end state of light rail for the Seattle metro.

    2. “Bike to the station, take the train, bike from the station to work / school / etc where they have tons of bike racks.”

      That’s what Link can’t do. It would require a bicycle car on each train for the dozens of bikes. Some cities have that but ST isn’t ready to commit to it yet.

    3. Bicycle cars would also put a wench in the capacity predictions. The platforms can only fit 4-car trains and ST is planning to run all four of them. So a bicycle car would displace a passenger car, and that would cut capacity by 25% which is pretty large. ST could compensate by running more frequent trains, but that would increase costs significantly faster than ST was anticipating.

  12. I bike to work frequently from northeast of the UW to downtown –takes about 40 minutes one way. The new station is a 10 minute bike ride, so I will likely periodically take the light rail and save 28 minutes of biking. I think a lot of people will end up doing that. So more bike parking will be needed. A bike valet is a great idea if demand warrants it.

  13. Does anyone use any of the Metro bike lockers at Northgate TC (or elsewhere in the system?) It appears they open by some sort of card, but I’ve never used them. Or do they take Orca?

    1. I think I’m the only one who ever does, but it’s not because the lockers are bad (I really like them). If you’re at all interested, do yourself a favor and order yourself a card before the trial ends. http://www.bikelink.org/ I used one fairly often during the summer and only managed to spend about $15 off my card (including a $5 fine from forgetting my bike one day). They just picked a terrible location to run a trial. And the signage and need to go online to order, then get your card in the mail, need to find bike routes to Northgate. There’s way too many ways to just not do it. I suspect if you put 100 of these at ULink and attach them to a Pronto or Orca reader and they’ll be full, serving 1000s of users, not just 100 full-time subscribers.

  14. At some point in time, ST will need to consider prohibiting bikes during peak hours. This is already the case for many rapid transit systems elsewhere, and will only make sense when ridership explodes. This makes bike parking imperative.

    1. What part of the country prohibits bikes on trains during peak hours? What about strollers or large suitcases? All it takes is hundreds of death-stares by annoyed commuters to learn not to do that again. No need for enforcement on ST’s part.

      1. I’m not sure in this country, but when I was in Munich (bike mode share: 17%) this last summer, you couldn’t bring bikes on the trains during rush hour, and they have a really excellent rail network there. It’s a perfectly sensible rule, bikes just take up a ton of space.

        Now, folding bikes are probably fine, you can get folding bikes roughly the size of a large backpack/small piece of luggage (see: Bromptons). But regular sized bikes are just too big, and I say that as a frequent cyclist.

      2. NYC seems trying to thread a needle with this dual message:

        “Bicycles are permitted on Subway trains at all times. However, we strongly recommend that cyclists avoid boarding crowded rush hour trains.”

        Of course, every single rush hour train is crowded!


  15. Perhaps it’s time to start selling the Brompton folding bikes that are popular in London. They quickly fold up to the size of a small suitcase, and fit on the train without taking up a lot of space. Used to see them all the time on the Tube when I lived there.

  16. Apologies, dwj, to you, as well as the historic figures. A nasty joke about official hypocrisy over drug penalties for different social classes of defendants. From a time most STB readers can be glad you missed.

    First Lady Nancy Reagan’s three word formula for avoiding drug addiction, “Just Say No!” fell badly on the ears of young people whose lives made them addicts whose rehab facilities were prison.

    But it’s good wisdom against other addictions too, like pernicious expediency. In the years these “WTF-With Earlaps” references developed, I’ve watched millions of public dollars wasted to save pennies. But also buckets of well-positioned sweat.

    But Mic, you’ve really hit the target about the dangers of full-time transit driving. C’mon! Did you drive out of Central Base or Atlantic?

    Because it is a medically proven fact that sleep deprivation has exactly same effect as LSD. Still checking whether the great Jerry Garcia ever drove full-time for MUNI. One Friday pm rush hour in the summer, and he’d definitely have been Grateful to be Dead.

    Put the bike racks in and just weld the other ones to them when they finally get here.


  17. What time would the valets go home, if they’re not going to be there 24 hours? What happens to bikes still there then? An event valet can reasonably expect everyone to collect their bikes when the event ends, but a UW Station valet can’t expect everybody to collect their bike by 6pm. Otherwise you’d get a lot of people who need to store their bike into the evening, and they’d have to park it outside the valet cage, which means there’d have to be bike racks outside the cage, and possibly a lot of them.

      1. They go home around 7pm I think. They lock up all the unclaimed bikes outside the valet with u-locks, then text the combination for each lock to the owner of the bike.

  18. The current situation sounds entirely short-sighted. There are going to be people such as me, who will consider strongly changing from changing from taking a slow bus from Wallingford to biking down the Burke-Gilman to the UW station and finally, for the first time really, turning the taxes I’ve been paying for all these years to Sound Transit into something of value to me directly. This station should look like Amsterdam; those coat hanger bike racks are like the rails laid down in the bus tunnel when it was first built, a waste of time where you know it’s going to have to be replaced. Why do it wrong the first time on purpose?

  19. Portland’s system only makes sense if you are comparing it to the space consumed by a automobile park and ride.

    If you want to think ahead, do what Japan does:

    1. Only super-dense cities actually have such a space shortage that bike parking needs such an expensive solution.

      The beauty of a bike valet for UW Station in particular isn’t the raw space efficiency. It’s that the station is next to a football stadium that’s used a handful of times per year. There’s all this space next to the stadium that’s totally wasted most days, but that UW wants clear for these occasional stadium events. A weekday bike valet, as opposed to a sea of staple racks, could make way when the stadium is being used.

      I’ve seen signs indicating a bike valet for stadium events, probably somewhere across the street from the stadium; I don’t care about UW or college football generally so that’s all I know about it. It would make sense to try to keep bikes out of the stadium crowds, I guess.

      1. Well, just to be clear, the parking is full every day. People park there for the hospital.

        In general, though, I agree. That systems is overkill. There is plenty of space. It isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t Tokyo, that’s for sure. I doubt you even need multiple floors for bikes, let alone an expensive system like that. You can put lots of bikes in one parking space, and that is basically the trade-off. In that sense it isn’t cheap (the UW makes a lot of money off of those parking spaces) but it isn’t that expensive, either.

      2. Underground items are extremely common around university campuses. Steam lines, water pipes, electrical power and fairly large utility vaults are all down there someplace.

        Other than the robotic machine required to park the bikes and the card acceptor, I don’t see why this would be any more difficult or expensive than installing any other of the dozens of underground utility vaults that are already around Husky Stadium.

  20. This is fantastic – I think bike demand at that station will be shocking to people when you consider all of the bike commutes to DT (or really anywhere on the line) that will now seem less scary for people with access to the Burke.

    I wouldnt be all that suprised if we found out thay bike parking for >500 is eventually needed. Valet would be excellent.

  21. Quibble: “a brand new dedicated bike path across SR 520 that dead ends at Montlake”. No, the new bike path will not “dead end” at Montlake. A dead end requires you to turn around and go back the way you came, like the ped/bike path on the new Bay Bridge (http://www.baybridgeinfo.org/path). The 520 trail will *end* at Montlake, and cyclists will be able to go in several different directions (some better than others, granted).

    1. When the bridge work was starting they were planning to have it finished way before the Montlake landing, and dead-end the path a few feet from land. Has the bridge been delayed enough that the Montlake landing has caught up?

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