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Solano Sprouts a Covered Bike Rack

Solano Avenue has its first covered bike rack. A new rack on upper Solano in Berkeley has a roof over its head, offering some protection from the rain and sun, at least when the rain falls straight down and the sun's directly overhead.

A puzzled Patch reader recently asked us about the "green metal structure" that had just appeared on the sidewalk in front of a gas station across the street from Peet's on upper Solano Avenue in Berkeley.

The reader asked if we knew what it was. We didn't then, but we do now.

It's a bike rack with a roof.

The green structure on the southeast corner of Solano and Colusa avenues (in front of a gas station next to Andronico's, and across the street from Peet's) did indeed look odd on Jan. 24 when the reader emailed us.

At that point, it was just the frame for the shelter – installed the previous day and vaguely resembling two large green metal pretzels reaching up from the sidewalk. On Jan. 29, the bike racks and roof were added, according to Pamela Embry, spokeswoman for the city.

"The shelter is designed to protect the bikes from rain and sun, both of which will damage bicycle components if a bike is left out for an extended period of time (more than 2+ hours on a regular basis)," Embry told Patch via email." 

Patch observed that the roof seemed relatively high and somewhat narrow to afford much protection from rain, especially when it's falling from an angle, as it often does.

"The shelter will not prevent blowing rain from getting on some parts of the bike," Embry acknowledged, "but at a minimum it is intended to keep the handlebars and seat dry and protected from the sun."

She added: "This is the City’s first sheltered bike rack location, but we are planning to install a second one on the northeast corner of Shattuck and Vine in the near future. Both locations are funded by Safe Routes to Transit grant funding, because of the immediate proximity of Transbay AC Transit bus stops. Berkeley is the latest of dozens of cities nationwide (and dozens more internationally) which have installed such sheltered public bike racks."

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We'd like to know what you think of the new covered bike rack on Solano. You can tell us in the comments. 

Senior A. Titude February 13, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Any bike parking is good bike parking. I'd still take a bag for my seat, though, if the weather looked bad.
Alan Eckert February 13, 2013 at 05:37 PM
This whole intersection has been changing. Let's hope it will be safer because of it!
christopher papazoglow February 13, 2013 at 06:45 PM
The roof appears to be about 10 feet high. Hopefully, if more of these structures are ordered, the plans will call for them to be a lesser height, say around 7-1/2 to 8 feet. This would certainly provide enough height for all but those with the most unusual height or most outrageous headgear, would offer better protection from the elements, and SHOULD be less costly due to less material being used.
Winifred Owen February 13, 2013 at 08:31 PM
A complete waste of money in these lean times (unless privately financed or donated), an eyesore, and an ineffective structure. Bikes will still get plenty wet in the rain - ever heard of wind?. Bike racks are fine. The more the merrier. Stuff like this: Total nonsense. IMO.
Bronwen Rowlands February 13, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Wait a minute; where are our priorities? Shouldn't we be covering people waiting for buses before we cover parked bikes?
Mr Eous February 13, 2013 at 09:08 PM
I agree: total waste of money and an eyesore to boot. Where oh where is the logic in covering bicycles if it is raining to begin with? Hope it gets taken down sooner rather than later.
Tatter Salad February 13, 2013 at 10:03 PM
The structures, signs, planters, bus stops and roofs appear to be a lust for liter. Front yard designs went that direction 30 years ago. (If it's got roots, lets shove it in the ground and see what happens....). I have a blind neighbor that lives on Key Route. When he goes the 'short' quarter mile up Solano to the Safeway store, he has to take the bus; using the sidewalk is much too challenging and dangerous for him. Nice Work Albany Planning!
Senior A. Titude February 13, 2013 at 10:22 PM
If I read correctly, the funds were intended to increase transbay ridership by providing a safer solution to daily bike storage (similar to the Bart bike locker concept). I don't know if this will increase ridership, but in theory it makes sense to provide a safe and secure place to lock a bike all day if you commute by bus. I see bikes chained to street signs in wet weather and hope the riders have seat covers. I wonder if any research was done prior to determine if lack of lockups did impact ridership? If so, make some sense but it's still ugly.
Tatter Salad February 13, 2013 at 10:29 PM
And brainless City design actually gets worse! Take the west side of Key Route Boulevard, in the Southern direction from Solano. (900 to 1300 Key Route): All these house now abut the Bart tracks/trail in their back yard. When these lilliputian houses were built, the developer (McGregor) was issued special Code dispensations: a) Shrunken size requirement for setback; result: the drive way for their garage is TOO SHORT to legally park a car (can't overhang a sidewalk). b) The garage is too narrow to have a car, and open the doors; result: NOT ONE of those houses has ever used their 'garage' for regular parking of a car.... EVER. They all must park on the street. c) Their three-foot side walk abuts directly to the curb: ie. NO garden strip adjacent to the cars for plantings, or trees. SO WHAT DOES ALBANY DO NOW? They put "Clean the Street/No Parking Signs" INTO the already narrow sidewalk, narrowing it to 2' wide in some cases. You know: to clean the area where there is NO room for trees, put up posts so cars can't always open their doors. They violated THEIR OWN rules by creating sidewalk space LESS than three feet wide! Children in the houses cannot ride their 'toys' safely on the sidewalk without worrying about the sign posts. Those that are visually handicapped must use the other side of the street. Does the city place these signs everywhere? Are we ALL impacted equally, even if our sidewalks are not blocked by signage? No. WAY TO GO CITY PLANNING!
christopher papazoglow February 14, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Some of you may want to re-read the first line of this article. The rack is on upper Solano IN BERKELEY. So, is this actually cause to berate Albany city planning? Nevertheless, most, perhaps all, of you have raised good points that should be addressed.
Amy Smolens February 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Mr Eous and others who think this structure is a waste of money: I often ride to work and other places when it is raining and I am not alone. The fact that I am riding in a drizzle for 20-45 minutes doesn't mean I want my bike getting soaked for hours. If I'm working in TV mobile units, I try and park my bike under the belly of the truck, which isn't easy to do but serves a purpose of keeping the bike fairly dry for 8-10 hours. Employees of the businesses at the top of Solano might benefit from this new shelter. Shorter term, if people ride up to the top of Solano in the rain they'll be happy to park their bike under cover while they shop or have a bite to eat. As Christopher points out, the design could probably be improved so let's give some constructive criticism to that end. While not perfect, this structure is definitely useful.
Nick February 14, 2013 at 05:44 AM
I've ridden my bike to work rain or shine the last 15 years. When it rains, I wear rain gear. My bike gets parked in the rain all the time. No biggee. What I think is more important are more places to sit and hang out in comfort while in town. These are far and few between. The bikes get a roof bit directly across the street the few tables where one can sit outside Peet's have zero protection. Makes no sense at all. Bikes covered and people out in the sun and rain. Big waste of money.
Zack M. February 14, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Nick, I agree, I'd love to see them take out some of the car parking spaces there and put in a parklet with a bike corral! Then we'd be talking real progress with a great space for people to sit and enjoy. You should suggest it to Peet's and the other businesses there, I'm sure they'd love the extra space for their customers. But then where would all the "environmentally conscious" North Berkeley residents park their Prius they drove 3 blocks to get coffee? As to those who say this is an eyesore, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Looks pretty well constructed and has a nice tasteful design in my opinion. Also, there's nothing stopping someone waiting for the bus from waiting under this structure as well and unless it's changed, there's already a sheltered bus stop right there too! There are much larger "wastes" of money than some covered bike racks, and like Amy said, many of us who ride do it rain or shine, but it's still nice to not have your bike parked in the rain all day or even if you're just running errands. Thanks to the city of BERKELEY for installing this, I'll definitely use it when I go to that area!
Preston Jordan February 14, 2013 at 07:44 PM
A draft of the study supporting this installation is available at http://www.actia2022.com/pdfs/attachments/BPAC_Attachment_C2_061109.pdf. A staff report regarding the study is available at http://www.actia2022.com/agendas/pdfs/BPAC_Attachment_C1_061109.pdf. I have not read the draft study in detail, but the staff report states this installation is part of the first effort in the country by a bus operator to increase ridership by providing strategically located long-term bike parking. Certainly other public transit agencies have seen a tremendous return on the investment from better accommodating people that bike. For instance CalTrain's ridership went significantly when it added more capacity (http://www.masstransitmag.com/article/10733935/san-francisco-bay-area-railroad-welcomes-cyclists). While this is not the same as providing longer term bike parking, there is consensus among transportation researchers that bike parking is often a limiting factor in people's choice of biking for transportation. I look forward to watching this forward-thinking experiment unfold. I am glad to live in an area that is trying something new with regard to promoting more sustainable transportation. That said, I agree that while attractive in appearance it appears this structure could have been better designed with regard to keep the elements off parked bikes.
Amy Smolens March 08, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Bronwen, the bus stop just east of the bike rack is indeed covered.

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