Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bicycles at a Parking Conference

Earlier this fall, I presented at the Carolinas Parking Association annual conference. Invited to present by Clemson University's Parking and Transportation Director on the Clemson University Bikeways Master Plan and related successes from its implementation, I was excited to present to an audience that was knowledgeable about transportation issues. Attendees included parking directors, consultants, government leaders, parking enforcement professionals and vendors. With the conference focused on multi-modal transportation issues, it was a great opportunity to make a connection between parking and biking.

During my presentation, I talked about the development of the university bike plan and some related successes like the installation of a bike repair station and the installations of several miles of bikeways on the campus. However, to really connect with this group, I thought it was important to focus on the connection between bicycles and parking, and why supporting bicycle facility improvements matters to parking professionals.

Providing facilities for bicycle riders is one way to help solve the parking problem in cities, neighborhoods and campuses across the country. When people arrive at a destination, they are looking for a safe, secure, convenient parking spot for their bike, just like when they drive a car. By supporting the development of bicycle facilities (bike lanes, paths, cyclepaths and shared roads) and investing in bike parking, people are more likely to ride their bike. More people on bikes means that there are fewer in cars. Sharing this bicycle-parking connection with the audience was important.

A good foundation for my presentation was made early on in the conference. One of the keynote speakers talked about the International Parking Institute's 2013 International Parking Survey. The survey was based on answers from parking professionals from 21 countries, and revealed the top issues that parking professionals are facing. One of the most important issues that the survey revealed was that sustainability is an industry focus around the world. Biking was specifically mentioned as a way to address alternative parking solutions and to take note that folks are using it as a real, legitimate form of transportation (meaning that it's here to stay), especially with our international neighbors. I was excited to see that supporting and addressing the needs of the bicycle riding community was recognized at the international level. 

Last year I presented to a bicycle-centered group at the Georgia-Lina Bike Summit. Having an opportunity to talk about the connection between bicycle and parking to some colleagues in a related field was fun and important. Broadening their perspective and having an opportunity to answer their questions was an important step in continuing the dialogue about why bikes matter. I was a great time, and I look forward to more future opportunities.

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