Secure Bicycle Parking Provides First-Last Mile Option

Aug. 25, 2016
How can transit agencies provide a critical link through first-last mile collaboration in a cost-effective manner?

In May 2015, the City of Santa Ana, California did something innovative to help address the public transportation challenges faced by “first-last mile” passengers. They became the first city in their county to install “Bike Huts” throughout their community.

Bike Huts are stand-alone, completely enclosed bike parking facilities offering cyclists shelter and security for their bicycles. Santa Ana has installed four Bike Huts to date with two located in the downtown core, one in the heart of the City’s Civic Center, and one at the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center. The locations were selected to support bicycling commuters with the first and last mile of their public transportation trips.

The solar powered Bike Huts are a joint product of Irvine-based Acire, Inc. under their BikeConnect brand and Corona-based Tolar Manufacturing Company Inc.. The collaboration combines BikeConnect’s world-class centralized web-based bike management and administration system with Tolar’s vast design and manufacturing capabilities of award-winning bus shelters and street furniture.

Santa Ana’s Buy America-compliant Bike Huts are made from 100% recyclable materials and equipped with automated LED security lighting. High-definition video surveillance with 24/7 video streaming allows the City and customers to watch over the up to 12 bicycles that are securely supported and individually locked in vertical tracks. Cyclists can view bike parking availability at each hut online. They then access the huts with a card reader or key code, paying as little as $6 per month or $50 for an annual membership, which provides access to all four huts any time of the day or night. All fee collection is handled through an online membership based program. Santa Ana is currently considering a pay-as-you-go short-term usage program as well.

Santa Ana’s Bike Huts were funded by a Federal Transit Administration “Transportation Enhancements” grant, which specifically supports “first mile-last mile” options for individuals transferring from transit to places of employment or business districts. In December 2015, the City of Santa Ana received the prestigious “Creative and Innovative Project of the Year” award from the Southern California Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Tolar Manufacturing had been a proud partner with the City of Santa Ana for the majority of its 25 year company history providing the City’s public transit passengers with at-stop amenities that make their daily lives easier in the critical first mile-last mile, which importantly, includes bus shelters. While bicycle parking facilities are one such bus shelter amenity, so too is street furniture that provides a comfortable place to rest, real-time transit information that reduces stress, solar lighting for added security and the convenience of a charging station to keep individuals connected to their lives. In fact, Tolar’s latest collaboration with the City of Santa Ana calls for designing and fabricating 40 transit shelters customized to create a neighborhood-specific, architecturally respectful sense of place. These projects and more demonstrate how pro-active and creative collaborations can help to resolve the “first-last mile” dilemma faced by transportation agencies throughout the country.

Patrick Merrick, Executive Vice President, Tolar Manufacturing Company Inc., [email protected]