A2 parking garage adds house for bikes

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Employees from Ox Studio, Barracuda Networks and Nutshell have already inquired about luxury space in the Maynard Bike House due to open this week in downtown Ann Arbor. In fact, 21 of the 37 available spaces are already taken. People anted up a $75 annual fee to gain covered space in a locked room with 24-hour surveillance.

Grand opening takes place at 8:30 a.m. May 17 on “Bike to Work Day.”

To accommodate the workers of high tech companies, retail stores and edgy advertising studios, the city of Ann Arbor transformed two standard auto spaces on the first floor of the Maynard Parking Structure to an oasis for the cycling culture. Workers added a Fixit stand, ample lighting, and racks for both standard and recumbent bicycles. Ultimately, 50 two-wheeled, non-motorized vehicles can park secure from rain, sleet or theft.

“We’re showing the cycling community we support their mode of choice," said Amber Miller, a planning and research specialist for the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. "We named it Bike House and added some elements that feel like home. This is a place that builds communities and attracts the talent we need for our companies.” 

On this bike to work day, Ann Arbor city and civic leaders will host a launch party and ribbon cutting at 8:30 a.m., a gesture toward the growing tech companies that seek young, vibrant talent attuned to multi-modal transportation. Mayor John Heiftje, Transportation Chair John Mouat, along with getDowntown Director Nancy Shore is expected to greet potential cycle riders and friends.

“We reviewed every detail of the Bike House Plan,” said Norman Cox of the Greenway Collaborative. “We made sure the bike house had options for nonstandard bikes, recumbents, tandems and trailers.”

The Collaborative recommended sufficient space for a rider to negotiate a bike onto a rack and an air pump to restore tires. It would need to be on the first floor and keep 24-hour video watch to help people feel safer leaving their panniers, lights and baskets on their bikes.”

According to Shore, GetDowntown conducted research into commuting patterns in 2011, finding a 6 percent increase in interest in ridership among 13,000 downtown employees and employers from its previous survey in 2007. The percentage of two-wheelers doubles on nice warm days when occasional riders saddle up.

Amber Miller agrees: “Cycling affects your quality of life, how you embrace and recognize community. With the help of Google maps you can identify the safest route along bike lanes and multi-route paths. On a trip downtown the roads go slower. There is no high rate of bike accidents with vehicles,” she said.

People whose primary mode of travel was bicycle were likely to shop longer and stay for a nosh, according to research her agency conducted. Evidently, two-wheeled commuters harbored no worries of parking tickets in a city such as Ann Arbor, which charges a quarter for 10 minutes at a meter.

Experts say bike culture is booming and Ann Arbor plans to be ready. The DDA extends over 1,000 bike parking places in summer months, including 28 bike lockers. New bike racks purchased by the Ann Arbor Transit Authority make room for three bikes, up from two, according to Amber Miller, the DDA’s dedicated cyclist and new mom. She cycled several years to her downtown office. “When you see cyclists you see a hip vibe, and that attracts young talent.”

Spots are going fast. To learn more or to reserve your space, contact getDowntown ASAP!

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