Great Placemaking Idea #7: Bicycle Service and Repair as an Enduring Feature

For a few weeks, we have been sharing what we think are good ideas for improving the lower State Street experience for bicyclists as part of our broader series on placemaking ideas for the upcoming renovations. For the last of our bike-related recommendations for improving the State Street and Library Malls as quality public spaces, we’d like to suggest a commitment to providing services for bike commuters. This goes beyond just providing a safe space to ride in and park in that doesn’t endanger pedestrians; we think that programming of the space should include a seasonal Bike Repair Kiosk.

bicycle-repair-marketThe UW-Madison provides the University Bicycle Resource Center, in the basement of the Helen C. White parking ramp. During student fairs at the beginning of the fall semester, local bike manufacturers and advocacy organizations provide bicycle sales, info, and support. However, given the large volume of bike commuters, including students, faculty and staff, and visitors, these on their own are not enough. More frequent bike service would provide another reason to come to the area for things they need.

It’s also imperative that the stand be visible and have consistent hours, at least while the weather is still amenable to biking. Many of the abandoned bikes that litter the already-inadequate bike parking areas currently on or near lower State Street are abandoned by students when they break or get a flat tire. However, if it is easy to get bikes fixed in a central location on their way to class or work later in the semester when breaks and flats are more likely, students will abandon fewer bikes, and faculty, staff, and visitors would have one more great reason to visit.

Mobile or small-footprint bike repair service or kiosks are not an untried technique. In Madison, Bike to Work Week includes morning and evening coffee and snacks for bike commuters, along with mobile repair shops from local bike stores. Pedal to the People, out of Chicago, is a mobile bike repair service that responds to service calls. San Francisco’s Mid-Market Bike Repair Kiosk (pictured above) offers free, quick service to bike commuters on one of the city’s biggest thoroughfares. With the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s expertise in bike valet, offering pop-up or temporary bike repair would likely be an easy feat for them and other local bike experts.

A freestanding bike repair shop located on the 700 block of State Street would slow down bike traffic on the 700-800 blocks of State Street and the Library Mall, increase the project area’s status as a destination and raise Madison’s profile as bike friendly community.