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Seattle will get a major bike rack boost in 2019

While there are plenty of new lawmakers yet to make a mark in Olympia, proposed legislation yet to be voted on, and a range of new laws to take effect, there is one thing Seattle residents can count on in 2019 — more bike racks. And a lot of them.

“Over the next 12 months we should increase rack capacity citywide by about 20 percent,” said Joel Miller, bikeshare program manager for the Seattle Department of Transportation.

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The City of Seattle aims to pay for this expansion from fees charged to the three bikeshare companies operating in Seattle. Each company is allowed to have 6,666 bikes on the street. They are charged $50 per bike. About 40 percent of that fee is going toward new bike racks.

A 20 percent increase will equal about 800 new bike racks. Some racks will be combined into corrals — areas with multiple racks. The city is also re-configuring how it constructs corrals to accommodate new types of bikes, such as cargo bikes, or family bikes.

“We really want to increase access to transit via bikeshare so we are looking (at placing new racks) at areas around transit stations, major bus stops and things like that to increase the capacity for bikeshare and personal bikes,” Miller said. “And also in the urban villages and centers where we see a lot of use …. the University District, Ballard and Fremont area, definitely downtown and Pioneer Square. Those are some of the urban villages we saw a lot of use in the (bikeshare) pilot.”

The racks will also be more accessible to wheel lock bikes. That should be helpful for JUMP customers. JUMP will eventually require its customers to lock its bikes to a rack.

“We see the bike racks a serving a great place to lock a personal bike, or a bikeshare bike that requires, in the future, that it be locked to a rack,” he said. “But also it’s a great visual cue citywide that this is a place to put a bike, whether it’s a personal bike or a bikeshare bike … there’s no short-term plan to make these corrals places you have to put a bikeshare bike.”

JUMP has also expressed interested in building charging stations around Seattle, at bike racks or attached to light poles. But Miller says there are no current plans for bikeshare charging stations.

The new bike racks are for everyone to use, not just bikeshare customers. But SDOT hopes that a new era of more available bike racks — and an updated bikeshare permit — will foster better parking habits.

“We are, under the new permit, able to proactively manage parking so we will see fewer instances of bikes misparked so they are blocking the sidewalk, blocking a curb ramp, a bus stop or something like that,” Miller said.

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