Many bicycle racks in downtown Madison are overcrowded due to long-term parking.
Mike Diss-Torrance bikes everywhere he goes in Madison, including to and from work everyday at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources downtown.
Often, when he arrives at his office, Diss-Torrance is unable to find a spot to park his bike because the racks are full. "All the good spaces have been taken, so I've been forced to improvise," he says.
This is one of the problems city officials hope to identify and solve through the Madison Bicycle and Moped Parking Study.
The $76,000 study is focusing on the downtown area of Madison, from the base of State Street and Library Mall to a two-block area around Capitol Square. The city hired local firm Toole Design to survey the area and note where bike and moped parking is in highest demand, says Arthur Ross, the city's pedestrian-bicycle coordinator.
Kevin Luecke, a senior planner at Toole Design, says his team first went out and counted all the existing bike racks downtown. They monitored these locations and recorded how many bikes were parked there during certain times, such as regular business hours and events like the Dane County Farmers' Market on Saturdays.
Luecke's team is also holding open houses -- like one Tuesday at UW-Madison's Memorial Union -- and conducting an online survey to gather input from residents about where they park their bikes and where they see congestion.
"Where racks are consistently full, [the solution] may be adding bike parking in some of those places or it may be offering different types of bike parking in different areas," Luecke says.
Many bike racks downtown do not meet city standards because they do not make efficient use of the space and there is often not enough distance between the bikes, Ross says.
The study will also examine both short and long-term parking options, Ross says. Short-term parking usually last no more than a few hours, while long-parking means parking a bike for longer, such as all day or overnight, he says.
Some people will park their bikes in short-term parking spaces and leave them there for a long time creating a lack of available parking space, Ross says. State Street is one of the main areas where this is an issue, he says.
"Maybe we don't need more bike racks," Ross says. "The solution could be coming up with more long-term parking options."
The city currently has a few locations that offer reserved lockers for storing bikes for longer periods of time. Luecke says he has seen a lot of interest in building more bike lockers downtown and offering more long-term parking, such as bike shelters or garages.
This is the first study the city has ever conducted about bike and moped parking, Ross says. Prior to this, the city only offered piecemeal solutions as problems arose, he says.
"We want to see what issues people see and what kind of solutions would be acceptable for people to use," Ross says. "Some of those solutions could be expensive."
Although the city is looking to address both bike and moped parking, Ross says there aren't many problems relating to moped parking -- other than that sometimes mopeds park in spots designated for bicycles.
Luecke says his team expects to recommend solutions in the spring. At that point it will be up to the city to determine which options it wants to pursue and how to pay for them, he says.