Ten spaces, no waiting. For now.
"Some day, these will all be ours." For years (maybe more than a decade), I've been telling select people this. "These" refers to streets. "Ours" refers to bicyclists, pedestrians and others who get around under their own power. Select people include those among the above who know about peak oil -- and the possibility that once enough people panic at the ensuing decline, it may well be too late for consensus and enterprise to facilitate orderly transition from automobiles to alternative methods of getting around.
Unless you count bicycles.
Madison installed its first seasonal on-street bicycle parking corral Wednesday outside the Tipsy Cow at the top of King Street. Converting one short-term car stall into 10 bicycle parking spaces, the new bike racks answer demand for more bike parking near the intersection of King, Main and Pinckney streets at the Capitol Square. On-street bike parking also relieves sidewalk congestion -- freeing space for pedestrians, sidewalk cafes and other uses.
Anchored into the streetscape and framed by bumpers and posts to demarcate Madison's first bike corral, the King Street installation serves as a model for places around town where demand for bicycle parking has outstripped available space or conflicted with other uses.
Like the recent introduction of Madison's first bicycle boulevards, the bike-corral concept is imported from Europe: Many of that continent's oldest and most enlightened cities rose up on a human scale, long before the invention of motor vehicles. Many of its older streets remain too narrow to accommodate cars and trucks.
It remains to be seen whether these concepts will find traction in a landscape hewn by fossil-fueled motor vehicles. For now, a piece of street a bit larger than a one-car parking stall is open to bicycle parking. At the moment, it is still new enough that not even cyclists may know what to make of it. Gazing at it out the window as I write this, it offers 10 spaces for bicycle parking. No waiting.