As cycling for transportation becomes more and more popular, cars and bikes often clash. When a parking space is removed to make room for a bike rack, we cyclists rejoice. Score one for the good guys! Well there’s always differing opinions on something like this, and we all know parking in cities is scarce for everyone, motorists and cyclists alike. The city of Copenhagen is trying to solve this conflict of interest with a simple concept we all learned in grade school: Sharing.
The idea, dubbed Flex Parking, allocates spaces for bike parking during particular hours, and for cars during others. This works especially well in areas where people will be likely to cycle during the day, and others (such as nearby residents) would need to park their cars at night. Several of these Flex Parking spaces are located at universities adjacent to residential areas. An influx of students during the day means high demand for bike parking. At night, the students are gone and residents are free to park.
In Copenhagen, the spots are painted with bright blue indicators of their flex nature, as well as the hours for each usage. From what I can tell, there doesn’t appear to be any facilities for locking the bikes. In a city as bike friendly as Copenhagen where a claimed 50% of their population commute by bike, this might not be a problem. Try this concept in an American city, and you’d better believe your bike isn’t hanging around long without a lock. We’ll have to solve that problem before we adopt the idea.
Since our number of bike commuters is much lower, most cities in the US don’t have the same parking conflict with bikes and cars as Copenhagen (although there are plenty of other conflicts). That said, here in Boston I have seen a few roadside parking spaces fenced off and converted to bike parking. I personally love it and think we could do with more, but I can guarantee someone has complained about them. If we can’t get designated bike parking approved by the city, perhaps sharing is a good place to start. It can only encourage more people to ride, and bring awareness to the fact that, YES we are here, and we deserve a space on our roads and in our cities.