When Blue Marlins executive chef Brian Dukes rides his bike from his home in Earlewood to the restaurant in the Vista, he usually parks behind the long row of buildings fronting Lincoln Street, or he brings the bike into the dining room.
And thats not good, Dukes said. But really there just isnt a good place to park down here.
That could change soon when two bike corrals are installed, one in the Vista and one on Main Street.
Similar in design to those in Portland, Ore., or Raleigh, N.C., the new parking structures will hold anywhere from 10-14 bikes each. The corrals will be the first of their kind in the state, bike enthusiasts say, and will serve the estimated 10,000 or more riders in the city and likely encourage more people to take to two wheels.
The super-strong, firmly anchored metal racks usually go where cars normally park, rather than on sidewalks. They will cost $1,200 each and will be paid for in part by organizations such as the Vista Guild, with a one-to-one match from the city.
Both could be installed as early as the end of summer, said Natalie Britt, who chairs the citys bicycle pedestrian advisory committee, or BPAC.
Britt described the installation as a low-impact, inexpensive but important cultural change for the city.
This is a small investment that yields automatic big returns, she said. Nothing says bicycles are welcome here more than good, safe, accessible bike parking.
Bikes cut down on vehicle and traffic emissions all good for urban areas.
Different from traditional bike racks, bike corrals typically use on-street parking spaces.
So instead of searching for bicycle parking along sidewalks or pedestrian walkways, the highly visible municipal bike corrals encourage bike traffic to stay off sidewalks and on the road.
Its proven to be safer, Britt said.
While the Vista corrals location has yet to be determined, Britt said the city is looking at placing it somewhere on Lincoln Street between Gervais and Lady streets. The Main Street corral, expected to be finished first, will be located in the 1600 block of Main, near the Mast General store, and will be using an unused space on the street. That space, Britt said, could have been used as a parking space but the city opted instead to convert the space into a bike corral.
As far as giving up a parking space in increasingly congested areas, Britt said most business owners in the two corridors recognize the value of having additional bike access.
Youre not giving up a parking space, she said. Youre gaining 14 customers in that space.
Dukes, a member of the Vista Guild, said he is happy about the design because it will not interfere with sidewalk traffic.
Its part of the bicycle-friendly infrastructure, he said. So I think its good because youre not obstructing where people are trying to walk.
Officials with the University of South Carolina, which now uses traditional sidewalk bike racks, are supportive of additional bike parking especially structures that integrate bike traffic into the city. USC is studying new parking structures as well as bike sharing.
USCs outdoor recreation director, Katie Coley, said the citys corrals will be a good thing not only for residents and visitors but for students, who are increasingly becoming off-campus commuters.
The majority are commuters, whether theyre commuting by bus or shuttle or bike ... They are riding to and from classes, she said. So this is something were definitely excited about.
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.