City Beat

Council votes to launch bike corrals, plan parklets in Sacramento

The Sacramento City Council envisions a city where you can rent a bicycle from a vast bike-sharing network, park your ride in a bike corral, then settle into a curbside “parklet” for a cup of coffee.

Responding to calls from merchants and pedestrian and bicycle advocates, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to launch a network of bike corrals and begin a pilot program for mini-parks to be built in parking spaces near businesses. Council members also expressed encouragement for a regional bike-sharing program that has been touted by air quality officials.

Councilman Steve Hansen, whose office has helped develop the programs, said it is not often that the council makes a decision that is “so clearly for the public health benefit.”

Parklets were first launched in 2005 in San Francisco, where an art studio fed a meter and placed grass sod and a potted tree in a parking space. San Francisco officials eventually launched a long-term parklet network. There are now more than three dozen of the mini-parks in that city.

“We think parklets are a great idea,” said Teri Duarte, the executive director of WALKSacramento. “They provide additional destinations for people to walk to, they add life to the street and they can slow down traffic.”

At Hansen’s request, city officials will accept between six and 10 requests from businesses to install parklets around Sacramento. The parks will be open to the public, even when attached to a neighboring business.

City officials expect parklets to be built and maintained with funding from private-sector sponsorships.

Bike corrals fitting up to 12 bicycles could replace parking spaces on city streets. The lots were recommended to address a growing demand by bicycle users to have more secure places to leave bikes, city officials said.

The city has already received nine requests to install bike corrals, according to Ed Cox, a program analyst with the city’s Department of Public Works. Those include requests from property owners along K Street and R Street in downtown, on 20th Street in midtown, at 33rd Street and Folsom Boulevard in east Sacramento and at Third Avenue and Franklin Boulevard in Curtis Park.

Bike corrals would be funded through a grant from the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.

Both programs are expected to be concentrated heavily in the central city, although council members asked that neighborhoods in north and south Sacramento be considered as well. So far, “the midtown community is pretty fired up about it,” said Emily Baime Michaels, the executive director of the Midtown Business Association.

“Midtown will support something that’s an innovative use of space,” Michaels said.

City officials said they will seek to balance the aesthetic addition of the parklets and bike corrals with a loss of available parking and the effect on traffic. A loss of parking revenue will also be factored into decisions to permit new mini-parks and bike parking stations.

“In an urban environment, parking management is always going to be an issue,” Michaels said. “I don’t think losing a few spaces to a parklet or a bike corral is going to move the needle one way or another.”

The council also expressed support for a bike-sharing program in the region. According to a staff report provided to the council, a study commissioned by the city and the air quality district recommended a network of 560 bicycles at 80 docking stations. Most of the docks would be in downtown and midtown, with additional sites in Davis and West Sacramento.

The cost for launching a bike share program is estimated at $3.6 million, based on systems of a similar size in other cities, officials said. The network would cost $1.3 million a year; half of that cost could be covered by rental fees and the rest by sponsorships and grants, Cox said.