With construction currently taking place on the downtown McGill campus, there have been an increase in competition for bike parking. According to Paul Guenther, senior campus planner, internal surveys conducted by the Campus and Space Planning Department have shown that cyclists are not only discontented with the lack of bike parking spaces, but are also fearful of theft and the obligation to dismount their bicycles on campus. With these issues in mind, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) passed a motion on the creation of an on-campus bicycle facility.
“The proposed bike centre would house secure bike parking facilities, shower and locker facilities, and The Flat, the community-run bike collective,” Guenther said.
The project aims to increase ridership to campus, as well as to reallocate a space that is currently underused. Space under the SSMU Building currently only accommodates car parking.
“This garage was made inaccessible to cars when McTavish was made pedestrianized,” Guenther said.
At an estimated cost of $1.2 million, the project will be funded by multiple sources.
“We envision this project being funded jointly through SSMU, [McGill University, and through private sponsorship,” Guenther said.
The remaining costs will be covered by a per-semester membership fee.
The creation of a new bike facility demands funding and a paid membership, which has angered some students. Ines Wittke, U2 Arts, who often bikes to and from campus, she voiced concern over a biking facility that requires a paid membership.
“The [current] bike parking [situation] is definitely an issue [but with] a little bit of creativity, there is always a way you can attach your bike to something,” Wittke said. “I will probably not use [the new bicycle parking] accommodation [due to the cost].”
According to Guenther, the creation of a new bike parking facility does not mean the removal of existing outdoor bike spots.
“This proposed bike centre is intended to provide additional bike parking options in the community and won’t result in any reduction of existing spaces,” Guenther explained. “The intention is to increase the number of riders on-campus.”
Kevin Manaugh, assistant professor in the Department of Urban Planning, has also played an important role in creating this space. He has spoken out about the proximity of McTavish to other buildings.
“Yes, [the location of McTavish in relation to other buildings] is a real concern, though it’s worth pointing out that cyclists will be able to ride directly into the facility using the access ramp,” Manaugh said. “Students will have to decide if any additional walking distances to their final destination [are] worth the added safety and convenience of secured parking and shower facilities.”
Manaugh commented on additional positive externalities that could arise from this project.
“[The bike parking facility] is a welcome addition to increase efforts to reduce vehicle use on and to campus,” Manaugh said. “It represents a growing trend towards prioritizing cyclists and pedestrians [….] I think that the fact that the space was previously used as a [car] parking garage and will take on the role of providing for cyclists is also a positive sign.”
Students, however, should not expect for the new bicycle parking facility to be completed for at least a few years.
“This project, if funded, would likely not proceed before 2018, at which point the construction along McTavish will be over,” Manaugh said. “Furthermore, as the space is not being used aside from storage, there should be minimal disruption to the lives of students during its construction.”