Thursday, May 30, 2013

Now, valet parking for bikes at Barclays Center (after vague promises of "manned facility" and facility "operators")

After years of ambiguity about the commitment Barclays Center operators would make to bike parking, and distinct underuse of the outdoor bike racks, the arena is stepping up, thanks to a modest deal--$850 for the first event--with Transportation Alternatives for a free bike valet system.

According to the Wall Street Journal article posted last night, Barclays Center Pedals Out a Bike Valet Service: Brooklyn Arena to Test Bike Service for Concert-Goers:
Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group, will conduct a trial run of bike valets on Wednesday at a concert by the Brooklyn-based band The National. Workers will collect bikes and helmets of arriving concertgoers, store them in existing bike racks, and redistribute them after the show is over.
The charge to riders: nothing. Cyclists also won't have to tote a bike lock or carry a helmet around during the show
The valet system is an effort to nudge residents of the surrounding neighborhoods in Brooklyn to bike to events. While concert and game attendees have largely used trains and subways to reach the arena, which sits at a major transportation hub, the 400 bicycle racks at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Dean Street have often stood mostly empty.
In part, that's a function of winter weather....
Transportation Alternatives sees it as an organizing tool, and uses both paid workers and volunteers for the service. (The Brooklyn Paper also followed up.)

It's a smart deal for both the arena and TA, since the latter can apparently hold its nose regarding, say, developer Forest City's inside track for a deal to control valuable MTA property.

The back story: a "manned" facility?

According to the WSJ article:
Bike transportation was supposed to play a bigger role at the Barclays Center. The developer initially pledged to have a bike-storage center with room for 400 bikes in a tower planned for the space next to the arena. But as developer Bruce Ratner adjusted his construction timetable, the construction of that building was pushed back, and with it the bike room.
The racks for 400 bikes that now occupy the southeastern corner of the development have taken the place of the bike room.
It's a little more complicated.

According to the December 2009 Amended Memorandum of Environmental Concerns, Forest City committed to “provide any ticketholder traveling to the arena by bicycle with free indoor bicycle storage in a secure, manned facility designed to accommodate at least 400 bicycles on the arena block.”  (Emphases added)

The facility has been "manned" to the extend security guards wander over and keep watch, but it's not "manned" in the sense that it's managed by staffers with particular expertise. Still, valet parking was never promised.

During a 6/4/11 Q&A (video) at a forum on Atlantic Yards traffic changes/mitigations, Forest City consultant Sam Schwartz was asked if the bike parking would be open beyond arena events and whether it would be sheltered and be a secure parking facility.

"In terms of the bike parking facility, it will be open during events. We're working with some operators, as part of the the TDM [Transportation Demand Management] program, we're going to come back with you with the details of seeing whether it would be open around the clock," Schwartz responded.

"It will be secure, that was your first question," he continued. "The bike parking, 400 spaces, will be provided in the temporary condition and will be provided in the permanent condition. And it will always be secured during the arena events. And we're going to get back to you about the other hours.

He did not answer whether it would be sheltered, but of course it's not. 

And there were no "operators" for the facility, not until this upcoming show.


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