What is this?
Recognizing Downtown as a destination for bicyclists, a large part of the coming infrastructure conversation will include how to best address bicycle parking. Once a cyclist has gotten down here safely, where do they store their bike while they work, play, or shop? We conducted a visual survey of all bicycle racks in the Golden Triangle to find where the natural concentrations of racks are located, with the eventual goal of producing a resource to be hosted online by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in conjunction with their car parking guide.
What can we learn?
After collecting data based on multiple walking surveys, we were able to see the distribution of locations throughout the Golden Triangle (L). We then overlaid BikePGH's most recent route recommendations and Healthy Ride stations to see if any patterns appeared (R). For this project racks are categorized as being either an individual rack standing alone or a cluster of multiple racks next to each other in the same area.
The above map reveals that racks are reliably concentrated around recommended cycling routes downtown, and that Healthy Ride stations were well placed around existing safe routes. However, there are a few gaps that stand out, among them the Grant Street Corridor, along First Avenue, and in Point State Park. Once the proposed G.A.P. To The Point protected bike lane opens in the near future (seen on the map above running along Fort Pitt Boulevard), that area of First Ave and Point State Park will most likely see more traffic and more ancillary bike investment like parking. As for Grant Street, there are plenty of spaces for parked bikes but limited roadway infrastructure.
The heat maps combined with the capacity numbers up top also tells us that while the bicycle capacity of covered bike parking is usually much higher than exposed racks, their distribution is concentrated primarily in the lower area of the Golden Triangle, around First Avenue and up Grant Street. Many bike commuters need to store their bike for the full workday, and may prefer to park in more heavily trafficked, weather-protected areas, which are only found in a few parts of the downtown area. Especially during times of inclement weather when the number of bicyclists on the street drops, their need for covered bike parking near to their destination is greater. This distribution gap should be addressed to make cycling more friendly year-round.
In further analysis of distribution we separated the downtown area into informal districts based on clustered use type, and counted the spread of bicycle parking as seen below.
The Central Core area is by far the largest supplier of bike parking downtown, which is useful due to its proximity to all other parts of the neighborhood. The lowest number of spaces occurs in the Waterfront area, encompassing all of Point State Park and both shores. As this is mostly an area of recreational usage, there may not be a need for much long-term parking. But as the trails and bike paths converge at the Point, this area has a natural concentration of bikes and therefore more cycling storage may be necessary. Examining the rest of the Golden Triangle yields a better distribution of racks and rack clusters across Downtown. NOTE: Not included in this quick district map is the rack under the Greyhound Station, totaling 14 bike spaces.
According to this year's Make My Trip Count survey, 2.5% of all Downtown commuter trips happen by bike, and the Penn Avenue bike lane has seen steady growth in the number of users since its inception in 2014. For this project we counted 115 bike racks, totaling about 750* bicycle parking spaces. Compared to almost 20,000 public car parking spaces, there is still room for growth. When bicyclists are not only led safely downtown but also invited to stay, the entire neighborhood benefits.
Envision will continue to refine this map for better analysis, but in the meantime we hope to turn this into a public resource for all bicyclists venturing Downtown. Click the markers on the map below to see information about each rack, like bike capacity, rack style, and nearby landmarks.
Are you a Downtown cyclist? Did we miss any of your favorite bike storage spots? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
* This is an imperfect estimate based solely on our visual survey and is most likely smaller than the correct number, as there are many informal parking spots and the amount of bikes that fit on multi-racks (as in grid racks, bike corrals, wave racks, etc.) can vary depending on bike type and how creative a cyclist may be feeling that day.