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The High Cost of (Bike) Parking

10:09 AM EDT on June 16, 2010

4341004500_c0ae87894e.jpgAre garages charging bike
parking prices that the market is unlikely to bear? (Photo: Bicycles
Only
via Flickr)

Today on the Streetsblog Network, Traffic author Tom
Vanderbilt writes at How
We Drive
about the cost of bike parking at Manhattan garages. (New
York's larger garages have been required to offer bike parking since
late last year, and they haven't
always been happy about it
.)

Vanderbilt's post is prompted by a piece in the Wall
Street Journal
about one East Side garage that is charging a cool
$175 (plus tax)
for a monthly bike parking space. The WSJ's Ralph Gardner basically
thanks the garage for charging so much because he's terrified of riding
his bike in the city to begin with.

Vanderbilt wonders what kind of economic thinking is behind the
garage's decision to set such a high rate:

The first question that came to my mind was why it was soexpensive (when presumably you could fit upwards of a dozen bikes in astandard car spot), and then, secondly, why garages would charge such ahigh amount if no one seemed willing to pay it. Wouldn’t it better tomake half (or anything above) the theoretical profit than no profit atall? I don’t know how these garages are set up, but if parking that bike means having to have an attendant park and retrieve it for you, Isuppose the garages want to make sure the transaction costs are covered-- i.e., if they charged cyclists ten bucks a month but then had to send attendants in search of bikes (when they could be retrieving morelucrative cars). In other words, do they essentially charge that muchto not have to deal with the aggravation of dealing with parked bikes?

Good questions all. Has anyone out there found a good garage rate
for parking bikes in Manhattan? Or, perhaps more to the point, has
anyone out there found a garage that actually seems to see this as a
business opportunity rather than as an obligation to be avoided at any
cost? Will prices shake out if and when demand becomes more apparent?

By the way, Vanderbilt is hosting a very cool forum over at Slate
called Nimble Cities.
Here's the idea: They're looking for smart new ideas about
transportation within and between cities. Submit your own brilliant
solution, vote on the ideas of others, and see what rises to the top.
Vanderbilt will write about the best concepts in more depth as the month
progresses.

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