Zipcars, More Bike Parking On Tap For Union Station

Commuters searching for a spot to stash their bicycles at Union Station will soon find more options than the overcrowded racks.

The city parking authority is building 100 more parking spots for bikes in the train station parking garage, according to Executive Director of the New Haven Parking Authority William Kilpatrick.

Shovels will hit the ground in two to three weeks, Kilpatrick said.

In addition to the new bike parking spots, Union Station is going to put in new Zipcar spots as well as three charging stations for electric cars similar to the city’s first, which recently went operational at the Chapel Square Garage.

Union station currently has three places to store bikes: Out front along Union Avenue (pictured above) near the southwest garage entrance, at the northeast (back left) corner of the garage, and inside a glass case next to the garage elevators. For years, the bike racks, especially the one on Union Avenue, have been crowded to the point of looking like a forbidding tangle of wheels and handlebars.

Allan Appel PhotoThat situation is about to be remedied when the Fucci Construction Company begins work at the site of 25 yards of cedar chips (pictured) adjacent to the garage’s northern entrance.

Kilpatrick said the company will first build a long platform and then install the racks on it. The bikes would be sheltered against the rain as well.

Kilpatrick said he is very excited about the project. He termed it work “that’s been a long time coming.”

Although a date certain for the beginning of the work has not been established, Kilpatrick confirmed that the go-ahead for construction has been signed.

Transportation czar Mike Piscitelli said the initiative will be “a major step forward for Union Station.”

Kilpatrick hopes to formally announce the implementation of all three projects—bike parking, Zipcar, charging station—in a press conference in the coming weeks.

“There is a demand for alternate means of transportation, and bike transport is one of those we’re happy to be able to facilitate. [It’s] good for rail passengers and the economy,” he said.

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posted by: Bill on October 1, 2010  11:04am

It’s nice they are trying to accommodate electric cars with a charging station, but why not mopeds which are not allowed to be parked anywhere in the garage?

posted by: Brian M. on October 1, 2010  11:44am

I second Bill’s question. I’ve been asking about this for 2 years. There is nowhere you can park a scooter. It would seem logical that they could accommodate us at a bike rack (I’d guess about 5 of us do this - what do you think, Bill?) but they’ve so far refused.

posted by: William Kurtz on October 1, 2010  12:22pm

Although the League of Liberal Elite Radical Bikists (LLERB, although often identified in public with the more benign alias, Elm City Cycling) meets monthly (second Monday at 6:00) in its secret headquarters (second floor City Hall conference room), the issue of scooter parking has never come up, despite its obvious role in helping to destroy automobile hegemony and with it, good old-fashioned American civilization as envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

Anyone interested in opening a discussion about scooter parking, and whether and how it can be incorporated into an ongoing effort to increase secure and accessible bicycle parking throughout the city, please feel free to contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

posted by: Brian M. on October 1, 2010  12:44pm

Ha!

You elitist bikists, with your open websites, accessible public meetings, and devotion to openness, transparency, and inclusion… It’s people like you that cause unrest :)

posted by: Bill on October 1, 2010  1:06pm

I was excited about the prospect of getting a scooter this summer and riding it to the train station, but then I saw a scooter parked at the bike rack with a orange warning sticker. I asked the parking attendant and was told scooters are not allowed. Since according to state law, scooters under 50cc are considered motor assisted bicycles I don’t see how they can discriminate, but I’m not a lawyer.

posted by: Anon on October 2, 2010  1:09pm

allan, I wish you would do a followup on what if anything, they are doing to make our bikes more secure. I expected to read something about that when I clicked on this story, as a followup to the fellow whose bike was cut up at union station.

posted by: robn on October 3, 2010  11:02am

The scooter outcry is something city hall should listen to. Take 2 more spaces out of commission in the garage and run a pilot program of free daily parking for scooters for 6 months, monitor the use and expand until demand is met. Then set a prorated charge for scooter parking. The monitoring shouldn’t be a big hassle since it will only take 15 minutes a day to record use. The $ payoff may be break-even but it will probably take cars off the road and lessen car parking pressure in the garages (net positive).

posted by: Brian M. on October 4, 2010  11:09am

Bill-

I’ve tried the 50cc explanation before. It doesn’t matter to them.

In general, I’ve found this issue to be incredibly frustrating. I posted on See Click Fix about it. I’ve called. I’ve emailed. I’ve been polite, and tried being more pushy.

Not once have I been able to speak with a reasonable human being who’s been willing to acknowledge that scooter parking is an issue worth considering. Right now, it seems, they just don’t care. The last time I spoke to someone in that office, they asked me why I didn’t drive a car instead.

My scooter is the width of 2 bicycles. If I was commuting from *any* other station on the Metro North line, I would have no trouble parking it. Union Station is the outlier here, yet it seems impossible to find anyone there who’s willing to discuss this like an adult.

posted by: Jason S. on October 4, 2010  12:42pm

Allan, thank you once again for your careful attention to an issue affecting cyclists in New Haven.  Your efforts are widely appreciated!

News that this project is shovel-ready is most welcome, and the NH Parking Authority deserves our kudos for bringing the bike shelter to fruition, even if the timeframe has lapsed by several months. 

I would emphasize, though, that much work remains to be done to make bike routes to Union Station feel safe for cyclists of all ability levels.  To its credit, the City of New Haven painted sharrows leading partway to Union Station, but unfortunately they could not extend them past Frontage onto Union Avenue because the Connecticut DOT would not approve them on a state route.  Anyone and everyone who cares about this issue should write to ConnDOT officials and urge them to follow New Haven’s lead in approving sharrows for state routes.

In response to the above posts, I personally support expanding accommodations for mopeds and motorcycles at Union Station.  But while mopeds and bicycles can potentially park at the same racks, motorcycles should be parked separately (and require no racks in any case).  It is my understanding that a separate space has been designated for motorcycles near the Union Station parking garage. 

Incidentally, does anyone know if bicycle accommodations are being included in the Design Scope of the new Blackrock Metro North station now under construction in Fairfield?  The easiest way to get things installed is right up-front, when the architects are laying out the entire site.  As we’ve seen in the case of Union Station, retrofitting is always more difficult.