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Secure Bike Parking coming to downtown Kingston

Bike Racks Downtown Kingston

Cyclists will soon have access to a much-needed secure parking hub in downtown Kingston. Centrally located just east of Pan Chancho bakery on Princess Street, a highly secure docking station with capacity for 18 bikes is being installed this week. Installation is expected to take two to three days. 

Cycling is often regarded as a leisure activity; however, its relevance to the success of community health, tourism, downtown economic sectors and climate action, are well documented. 

*According to the Kingston Moves Household Travel Survey (HTS) Report, there are as many cycles owned by residents as vehicles. The 2019 survey notes that Kingston cyclists made 28,000 trips daily, to school, work, shopping and other locations. According to the latest HTS report (released Fall 2020 based on pre-pandemic Fall 2019 data), the areas contiguous to downtown Kingston are considered the densest areas for walking and cycling.  

Neighbourhoods within a three-km radius of the downtown core have the densest population in Kingston. The HTS shows there are approximately 50,000 residents living within those areas (closer to 70,000 including students). A three-km radius is considered a measure that typically can be walked within a half hour and travelled by bicycle in a mere 12 minutes. The HTS report indicates that in order to meet our climate expectations, the use of active transportation including cycling must grow rapidly. 

The bike racks are distributed by Urban Racks and work with Bikeep, an app that enables users to find parking, lock their bike, release their bike, and more. The City of Kingston will be the first municipality in Ontario to install the units, which are already very popular in Vancouver and Europe. The project is part of a multi-prong approach to help reduce bike theft in Kingston, complementing other projects like the Kingston Police 529 Garage bike registration and Cycle Kingston’s Bicycle Valet Parking, and the City of Kingston bike rack and and locking educational information. 

Last year, Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) met with several cycling groups to discuss ways to increase active transportation in the downtown core. The number one barrier to active transportation was bike security. Each year more than 200 bicycles come into police custody in Kingston. Almost three quarters of all bicycle thefts are from the central area, in particular downtown, most from south of Princess Street. Bike theft is a serious deterrent to active transportation in downtown Kingston. While some residents have been victims of theft, there have also been incidents involving visitors to the city, creating a negative image of Kingston, which impacts tourism.  

As documented in the City of Kingston’s Active Transportation Implementation Plan, bicycle parking was identified through public consultation as a critically important component for improving commuter and recreational cycle trips. Safe, secure and convenient bike parking provides cyclists with peace of mind when stopping and leaving their bikes for short or long durations. 

With financial assistance from the City of Kingston and a federal Tourism Relief Fund grant secured by Tourism Kingston, purchase of the bike parking hub was possible. The initiative is in alignment with the City’s strategic focus on leading environmental stewardship and climate action. If people feel they can safely leave bikes downtown, they have a choice to ride rather than fire up a vehicle. Active transportation is good for the environment, good for the community’s physical and mental health and gives citizens an economical option for transportation, which fosters equality in employment. 

The Bike Parking Hub is a pilot project and will be monitored for its success at not only reducing crime, but also increasing active transportation in downtown Kingston. More information and an official launch date will be distributed in the next week. 

*Source: Secure Bicycle Parking in Kingston ...a focus on prevention of bicycle theft... Programs and Facilities (Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation /Kingston Velo Club, March 2021)