By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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That's the message that Port Townsend city officials plan to send with the installation of a multiple bike rack in a space now designated for motorcycles on the northwest corner of Water and Taylor streets.
“We'd like for more people to ride their bikes downtown and are providing an option that doesn't involve chaining the bikes to a tree, a sign or a pole,” said Development Services Director Rick Sepler, who often commutes to work on his bicycle.
“When you ride a bike downtown, it frees up parking and decreases the traffic,” he added.
The new rack, which has the capacity for about a dozen bikes, will be installed sometime this month, he said.
Use of the rack will be monitored by employees at Broken Spoke, 835 Water St., so officials keep track of how well the experiment works.
“It's good to give people a safe place to go for biking, so they can go downtown and feel comfortable parking it,” said Jacob Freese, a mechanic at Broken Spoke who confirmed that store employees will keep data on how many bikes are chained there each day.
After it is in place for about a month, Sepler said officials will consider buying a portable rack that can be moved where concentrations of bikes are expected at certain times. The rack that will be installed this month has six bars and is constructed from available parts, while the custom portable rack is easily movable and designed to occupy a single parking space.
Sepler didn't know the cost of the rack. That will determined as part of the data-gathering process.
The experiment won't cost the city anything aside from labor, and the rack will be installed when crews have a break from other road projects, Sepler said.
A second permanent rack location at Pope Marine Park anticipates the increase in bike traffic resulting from the upcoming Concerts on the Dock, which begin Thursday.
Sepler said he expects the racks will clear the sidewalks, because they give bikers an alternative to locking up in a place that blocks foot traffic.
The racks are meant for shoppers and tourists, Sepler said, because “people who regularly commute on their bikes already have a regular place to park.”
Sepler said that reclaiming a single motorcycle space won't have a significant impact as there are three other such spaces at the same intersection, and motorcycles can use regular parking spaces that bicycles cannot.
Sepler said that the rack will be removed during the winter due to cold weather — though he still recommends riding bicycles year- round.
“If we could get everyone in the city to commute to work on their bikes two days a month, that would make a huge difference,” he said.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.