Lockers let bicyclists commute worry-free
St. Paul, Minn., has installed bicycle lockers at 30 transit locations, including many of its park-and-ride lots. The lockers are part of the city’s efforts to increase transit ridership.
With a population of 288,000, St. Paul trails only its twin, Minneapolis, as the state’s largest city. Together, Minneapolis and St. Paul constitute the 15th most populous area in the United States, and both cities suffer from the traffic and congestion problems associated with population density.
St. Paul has tried to alleviate congestion problems by improving its transit system and promoting the use of alternative transportation. To that end, in 1995, Metro Commuter Services installed 55 bicycle lockers by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Cycle-Safe at several park-and-ride lots. The response from residents was so favorable that, in June 2001, the city installed 120 more lockers throughout the city (e.g., at government buildings, Metro State University and the city’s new museum). Currently, the lockers located at downtown sites have a 100 percent occupancy rate.
“Customers appreciate bike lockers,” says Tracey Jackson, public facilities administrator for the Metropolitan Council — Metro Transit. “They feel more secure leaving [their] bikes at bus stops [with bike lockers] in comparison to those that just have racks.”
Additionally, riders appreciate the shelter the lockers provide for bicycles. “The lockers encourage me to use my bike because it is protected from the elements, and I know I will always have a dry seat,” says George Serumgard, a project manager in the Metro Transit engineering department. Serumgard, who makes a nine-mile bicycle commute four days a week, adds, “It’s an easy way to get exercise, and it is often the best part of my morning. If the lockers weren’t there, I would probably still [cycle], but not as much.”
The city paid for the recent installation of lockers with Federal Aid Preservation Funds. The lockers are offered for multi-month use only. They can be rented from Apr. 1 through Nov. 30 for a total of $40 plus a refundable $25 damage deposit. The city offers a discounted rental fee of $60 for residents who want to use the lockers year-round.