VANCOUVER, B.C. – Green City Councillor Pete Fry’s motion for an expedited secure bike parking strategy will be debated at council this week. Fry’s motion highlights the lack of secure public bike parking, and warns things will get worse for cyclists in Vancouver with the planned removal of parking meters, one of the more ubiquitous, accessible and sturdy street furnishings cyclists can count on to lock up to in areas close to shops and restaurants.
“Vancouver needs a comprehensive bike rack strategy to ensure there is enough locking infrastructure to serve the cyclists in our city,” said Fry. “Right now, we are losing spaces and that runs counter to our goals to get more people walking, biking and taking transit.”
Fry’s motion further directs staff to prepare an inventory of existing public bike locking infrastructure, including ad-hoc apparatus like parking meters and even consider a moratorium on meter removal until replacement infrastructure can be introduced. Vancouver is scheduled to replace 5,500 parking meters with more efficient digital parking stations by the end of 2023.
“I’d like to see those existing parking meters repurposed as bike racks, similar to the approach Toronto has taken where thousands of meters have been retrofitted into bike racks. And where repurposing meters is not practical or safe, let’s start introducing better racks to meet the need.
Fry, a cyclist, drafted the motion after hearing from other concerned cyclists and noticing the loss of parking meters in his Chinatown neighborhood.
“I was shopping in Chinatown and couldn’t locate anywhere to securely lock my bike within sightline of the shops, instead I found decapitated parking meter posts that served no function but to mock frustrated cyclists in an area notorious for bike theft.
“That’s the unintended consequence of switching over to these more efficient digital parking stations; the loss of thousands of secure and convenient places to lock up bikes across the city.”
Vancouver has the most bike thefts per capita of any Canadian City. In 2020, 2,115 bicycles were stolen, although police say more thefts were never reported.
“Unfortunately bike theft is a prevalent issue in Vancouver. Parking meters make great places to lock up bikes because they are secure and located directly in front of businesses across our city which allows cyclists to keep an eye on our bikes.
“Local BIAs are aware that parking meters are great for cyclists and for businesses — many have already reached out with suggestions for maintaining or converting this valuable infrastructure. I hope that city staff meaningfully engage businesses when developing the bike infrastructure strategy.”
Fry notes this motion is also about climate action. As part of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan, the city has a target of 2/3 of all trips will be walk, bike or transit by 2030.
“If we want to achieve our goals of transitioning people out of cars and into more climate-friendly modes of transportation, we need convenient and safe bike locking infrastructure in locations across our city.”
Lock It or Lose It: Improving Secure Bike Infrastructure in the City of Vancouver