Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Bike Parking Coming to CPMC/Davies

The surge in bicycling appears all over San Francisco -- even at hospitals and clinics. But once cyclists arrive, where do they park? Davies Hospital at Castro & Duboce is a case in point for NOPA residents and others who frequent the medical complex. (And, yes, it's now officially the "Davies Campus of California Pacific Medical Center," but I've been around awhile and it's "Davies" or "Davies Hospital" to me).

Davies provides 8 racks of bike parking just inside its parking garage. The conditions are pretty ideal: easy to access, easy to use (none of those spiral racks!), sheltered from rain, and right next to the garage attendant station for extra security. But there aren't enough of them, not anymore.

Who would bike to a medical complex if they were guaranteed adequate parking on arrival? Obvious answer: the staff, visitors, "the biking well" (an adaptation of the standard "walking well" person capable of getting around while ill), and some outpatients. The very question betrays an outdated notion that all "sick people" need transport by car, taxi, Muni, or ambulance.

There's lots of good reasons for more bike parking at hospitals. Bringing bikes indoors might be a hazard for less mobile and agile patients and clients in hallways and elevators. According to hospital personnel at Davies, medics and administrators considered whether bikes indoors might also carry infectious agents on their surfaces. The more people cycle to get medical care, the less need for costly additions to accomodate more vehicles in parking garages. And then there's the obvious health benefits from exercise through biking, something hospitals might actively promote.

Davies has a relatively easy solution to the parking crunch. Next to the existing, well-used racks is a two-car wide space intended for bike parking in the past. But did anyone really use these metal-stumps-in asphalt to secure their bikes? (see photo). If they did then, they don't now. Here's a bike improvement way overdue for its makeover.

After cyclists requested more parking -- a few times, but who's counting? -- Davies' Engineering Department now expects to review a design proposal this week and will then install new racks within about 30 days. (Thanks to staff for moving forward with this!) We'll let you know when they're up.

If you're interested in the bigger picture of bike parking, check out "What Would Get Americans Biking to Work? Decent Parking" by Tom Vanderbilt in Slate.

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