Long before sustainability was part of everyday parlance, before many cities considered alternative transportation and environmental issues, the community of Ann Arbor, Mich., was already taking steps to get downtown workers out of their cars and onto buses and bikes.
The City of Ann Arbor was one of the first customers to purchase CycleSafe bicycle lockers when the product was launched in 1980. Today those original lockers, provided for city employees, are still in service in front of City Hall. These units, along with lockers installed in various downtown parking structures over the years, are showing very few signs of wear, even with users typically operating the doors twice a day.
As LEED Certification has developed into a requirement for sustainable building sites, CycleSafe has worked to ensure bike lockers are considered in parking and alternative transportation activities. Bike lockers are the most cost effective method available to acquire LEED points.
Product Integrity, Longevity
That says a lot for their durability and affordability over time, according to Nancy Shore, Program Director for getDowntown, a collaborative effort of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Development Authority, the City of Ann Arbor, and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to promote alternative transportation options. The lockers “have definitely held up well,” said Shore, “especially since some of them are exposed to the elements and get scraped by snowplows in the winter.”
Ann Arbor’s locker program has proven to be a good investment with minimal maintenance costs. The oldest of the lockers, installed 28 years earlier, were refurbished for the first time in 2008, receiving new hardware and other small repairs, along with a fresh coat of paint. “All of the problems were pretty minor,” said Shore. “The integrity of the product is really strong—the structure is very sound.”
Part of a Transportation Strategy
The city’s CycleSafe lockers are owned jointly by the local Downtown Development Authority and get Downtown. These organizations see bicycle parking— lockers and public racks—as part of a comprehensive transportation system that offers commuters a variety of options: not only biking, but also walking, public transit, and ridesharing.
“Having ample bike parking … sends a clear message to bike commuters that bikes belong in the downtown,” said Shore. Because bicycle lockers give commuters “options that are safer and easier to use all year round,” they have become an integral part of getDowntown’s mobility program.
Most of the city’s CycleSafe lockers occupy what’s considered “dead space” in parking lots. The city also has dozens of CycleSafe U-Racks in place to accommodate the increasing numbers of downtown cyclists. While the U-Racks are available to the general public, the fully enclosed lockers are intended to attract cyclists commuting to work downtown. This policy supports the city’s strategy to provide transportation choices that a) benefit the environment by reducing emissions, b) reduce the number of parking spaces required, and c) ease area traffic congestion.
Rentals Target Bike Commuters
The getDowntown program offers lockers to individuals for a $60-a-year rental fee in exchange for a key and exclusive access to the locker, guaranteeing daily availability. The majority of the locker compartments are always rented, said Shore, many to long-standing customers.
One of the newer renters is Robin Claucherty, an architect with the firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent. Claucherty is a longtime bus commuter who’s now taking advantage of the city’s bicycle-friendly infrastructure to bike the four miles between her home and office. Claucherty’s locker, located in a parking structure just a block from her firm, provides “a place to put my bike that’s secure and protected from rain, without having to bring it into the office.”
Project in Brief
Location: City of Ann Arbor, Michigan