Op-Ed: Shrink Garages by 5% for Bike Trails, Bike Parking

“Sound Transit believes it still can afford a $41 million, 400-space garage in Sumner and a $57 million, 600-space garage in Puyallup in the next few years, and space at Tacoma, Mukilteo and the Tukwila commuter-rail stations.” –Seattle Times 7-25-2012

Sound Transit Garage in Kent

I understand that parking capacity is full in Sumner and Puyallup.  Further measures should be taken to improve access at Sounder Stations.  But taking a step back from that immediate reality, you have to admit that $100,000/space is a lot of money.

Expanding structured garages is an expensive solution to managing demand.  I would compare it to having parking requirements for new development, which were recently done away with in most of Tacoma.

I am willing to bet that shaving 5% off the number of parking spaces from these designs and using the money to expand bicycle connections to the stations would serve more people than the parking spaces themselves.

12 Bikes can fit in the space for one car
Photo: Tacoma’s 6th Avenue – Red Hot

For Puyallup, shaving 5% of the parking spaces off of the proposed 600-space garage  would represent 30 spaces or $3,000,000.  That amount of money could fund a ten mile bike trail (12′-wide, bidirectional), and bike parking facilities at the station (source).  If you’re thinking bike lanes, each parking space could fund two miles of bike lanes.

A sixty mile bike lane network from 30 parking spaces?  That’s a bargain that both Sound Transit and the public could reap dividends on for years – in health as well as in congestion relief.

Thinking about the big picture, with our reality of lower tax revenue and smaller budgets, bike infrastructure could represent one option for cutting costs and retaining Sound Transit’s commitment to expanding access to commuter rail stations and the rest of the regional transit network.

I’m intimately familiar with the idea of transit garages associated with dispersed neighborhood development in Seattle and King County – and even though Seattle has rejected the idea (the remainder of King County did not) it is still very good.

That said, tweaks like Mr. Karnes are totally appropriate. And, FWIW, I’m still waiting for the Dome District to benefit from all that free after business hours parking…

I think it’s a question of Station Access. Ultimately the Board gets to make the decision about what to do about that. I’m not saying that the Board should not construct the garages – but even a minor reduction in parking and a more balanced approach to meeting access demand by various modes could be more beneficial for ST and for the surrounding community.

The Mobility Master Plan has a bunch of bike infrastructure planned for South Tacoma, but there’s been barely any money to implement it. We need a dedicated funding source to move forward.

Great comments. Also, I feel your pain with the PT cutbacks. I bought a bike back in 2010 to prepare for the worst.

With the cutbacks in PT’s bus frequency and virtual elimination of evening service, I’ve been doing a lot more bike commuting lately.

With Sounder service looming at the So Tacoma station, I was mapping out the route from S Tac Way to my house, as compared with the route from the T Dome.

From the So. Tacoma station, the trip is longer by about a mile, but much less hilly. Unfortunately, that route has more car traffic and less bike lanes as well.

More bike lanes would certainly be appreciated, but I don’t know if that is something that is within ST’s scope.

At least for me, if T-Link were to climb the hill, it would be an easy bike ride or doable walk the rest of the way home.