new downtown bike station to offer parking, lockers, showers for commuters

Although it has faced more delays than a cyclist in a lake-effect snowstorm, the new downtown bike station finally is set to open by mid-August. And when it does, it will be the first of its kind in Ohio.

The new facility, called The Bike Rack, will offer 50 secure, indoor bike parking spaces and 10 outdoor spaces. It will also feature lockers for downtown commuters who would like to store fresh duds for the day without folding them. Finally, the facility will have three shower areas with private changing rooms.

John Sirignano, The Bike Rack’s operations manager, says he hopes the new facility will not only serve existing bike commuters, but also spur additional riders to take the plunge. “If you’re a commuter, then we want to get you thinking about biking to work,” he says. “We’re planning educational programs about what it takes to commute, and we’ll offer free days so people can try it.”

The facility, which is located in the North Gateway Parking Facility at East 4th and High streets, was created by the City of Cleveland and Downtown Cleveland Alliance to help make bike commuting easier. The top barrier to bike commuting that is cited by downtown workers is the lack of secure, convenient parking facilities, showers, changing rooms and lockers, Sirignano says.

The Bike Rack, which is partially modeled after the McDonald’s Cycle Center in Chicago’s Millenium Park, will offer free outdoor bike parking to anybody. Security cameras monitor the entire facility. Indoor parking is available for $5 per day or $25 for a monthly pass. Passholders will be able to use the facility 24 hours per day, seven days per week, regardless of whether or not an attendant is on duty. A swipe card will allow users to get in and out on demand.

Sirignano says The Bike Rack will partner with local businesses and downtown employers to help promote the facility, which he hopes will also encourage people to bike downtown for entertainment and weekend sporting events.

While promoters had hoped to get The Bike Rack open earlier in the year for prime bike commuting season, the project’s complexity caused months of delays. “The city was putting this into an existing facility, which made it much harder,” he says. “It would have been easier if they’d built it from the ground up.”

The Bike Rack will be a LEED-certified “green” facility. It will also be adorned with public art — colorful handlebars festooned with streamers — coordinated by Cleveland Public Art and designed by Scott Stibich and Mark A. Riegelman II.

Fresh Water Cleveland, 8/4/11

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