Dave Reid

Alterra Opens Milwaukee’s First On-Street Bike Corral

By - May 7th, 2011 04:10 pm
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Alterra's On-Street Bicycle Corral

Alterra’s On-Street Bicycle Corral

Cities such as Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Minneapolis have installed on-street bike parking in recent years, and now you can add Milwaukee to the list. The  loading zone in front of Alterra’s 2211 N. Prospect Ave. location is Milwaukee’s first on-street bicycle parking corral.  Designed by Chris Socha, of The Kubala Washatko Architects Inc. and fabricated by Ryan Foat, Principal of Oxbow Studio LLC., the bike corral goes far beyond that of simply an installation of bike racks, it adds an element of public art to the street and improves the built environment.

This installation adds intrigue and functionality to the built environment, and is Milwaukee’s newest city comfort.  It makes better use of public space, and in fact has economic value to Alterra and neighboring businesses, as this bike corral can hold at least twenty bicycles (customers) at a time instead of just one car.   Its utility was clear when almost immediately after it opened up on Friday numerous bikes began filling the racks.  Additionally, this installation keeps the sidewalk clear for pedestrians and allows for more space to be dedicated for cafe seating at retail establishments.

I’m sure some will only see it as a bike rack, but in addition to being an improvement to Milwaukee’s built environment, this installation is part of a continuing trend.  The City of Milwaukee has seen ridership increase over 250% over the past five years, and now businesses like Alterra are looking to improve their bike infrastructure to make Milwaukee a better place and improve their bottom line.  Clearly, biking as a form of commuting, running errands, and a part of every day life is on the rise in Milwaukee, and we at UrbanMilwaukee.com expect to see this trend continue.

 

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13 thoughts on “Alterra Opens Milwaukee’s First On-Street Bike Corral”

  1. Juli says:

    To say I am proud, would be an understatement. The unwritten narrative of this story is how such an extraordinary accomplishment (if I can call it that) was made possible by the will of ordinary people (no offense, guys). This happened because a Milwaukeean passionate about his city and knowledgeable about the impact of placemaking ideas, decided to speak up to his client. In this case, the client was a progressive business committed to both Milwaukee and to innovation. The client understood that new infrastructure has both economic and quality of life dividends worth the investment. Importantly, this idea had policy advocates within the power structure of existing bureaucracy willing to advocate for change, in a system much more comfortable with the status quo. Additionally, artistic partners helped make the vision reality. All of these individuals had fans like me and Urban Milwaukee, cheering them on both privately and publicly.

    Is this a small accomplishment? Or is this a gamechanger? I say yes. And, thank you. Who’s next? What’s next?

  2. This is great news! It’s also good to hear that the racks were filling up on the first day. I wish Miami could be next.

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks for the recognition Dave, and thanks for the kind words Juli. On this sunny Sunday afternoon, there were no less than 8 to 12 bikes parked in the corral (capacity is 20 bikes). I suspect that its popularity will only grow with time.

    Bike infrastructure has a consistently proven, “if you build it, they will come” track record. I’d say that’s worth noting in these difficult economic times — relatively low capitol costs yield high quality-of-life returns.

    Kudos to Alterra (and Mike Eitel) for listening to an idea and funding it’s realization. Kudos to DCD and DPW for allowing something new in the public realm.

    I look forward to seeing the next corrals installed. Little by little, we’re shaping a better Milwaukee. And with that said, I’ll pose the same question that Juli asked, Who’s next, What’s next?

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Brandt Well to get Miami on the list I’d say don’t wait for the city, this was a people driven solution. Yes it in the end involved the city (permits and such) but it started with an idea, a willing and interested business, and people working to get it accomplished.

  5. Jeff Jordan says:

    It’s one more example of people looking around, seeing things done better someplace else and importing that idea to their backyard. We are looking forward to the bike corral on Downer (next to The Hollander.).This is part of what should be an integrated system of public transportation that moves people effortlessly to where they want to go. Along with a plan for safe and dedicated bike trails we already have bike racks on the busses. With a more enlightened county exec, we will get enhanced bus transportation and if our Mayor is successful a street car.
    As Dave has pointed out in his column, most new street-scapes include widening pedestrian ways for more traffic and outside cafe service. Milwaukee’s looking better and feeling better already..

  6. JoeW says:

    Love it. I had been waiting to see how it would turn out, and I was rewarded on my Sunday coffee walk. Bigger than I thought. Add to the equation its proximity to the relocated Crank Daddy’s, and let’s see where everyone’s imagination goes. As Dave said, no point waiting for the city.

  7. Chris says:

    I’d like to underscore the City’s cooperativeness in this endeavor. They were willing to listen, and ultimately, willing to find a way to allow for this to happen. It’s a pilot program for now, but the goal is to open this up such that any bike-friendly business can apply for a corral license like you would an outdoor cafe license.

    This is the route most cities have taken when it comes to implementing on-street bike parking. Great urban spaces are part good policy and part passionate citizenry. Just imagine, even 15 years ago you couldn’t find outdoor cafe seating because of a zoning policy. Can you imagine the city without it today? The vitality it adds is staggering. I hope that someday these bike corrals are as ordinary, and wonderful, as all our great outdoor bars and restaurants.

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @Chris Sorry I didn’t mean to say the city wasn’t an important part of the process, simply that it takes people and business willing to push to get the ball rolling.

  9. Chris says:

    No worries Dave, I understood what you meant. You’re absolutely right — without citizens and business bringing the idea to the table, this likely would not have happened anytime soon. I believe it’s that very notion that prompted Juli to ask, what’s next? What other interesting/achievable urban upgrades are out there for consideration?

  10. John December says:

    This is a wonderful example of a business unlocking space that would otherwise be given over to automobile storage. Alterra Prospect opened a wonderful new space where their garage used to be. Now, they are providing many more spaces for their customers to park bicycles. A wonderful, brilliant way to increase their ability to serve even more customers!

    I wonder why other businesses feel that providing free automobile storage is the best way to engage their customers?

  11. Juli says:

    Is this next? Pop-up cafe’s take over parking spots:
    http://www.bisonip.com/streetDecks.php

    Anybody know a business that might want to partner to get a pop-up cafe installed this season? There is a group of us willing to help with funding, design and logistics (permits, etc.). Anodyne on Brady was one idea. Anyone know them? Other thoughts? How about a Milwaukee Street establishment. The missing links right now are an enthusiastic business that has a good spot for it and possibly some funding (but we have ideas to help). I think the other hurdles are surmountable.

    Any takers? Let’s do it. Who’s with me?

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