Midtown moves car parking aside for people

After last year’s successful PARKing Day, Bicycle Network is back working with the Planning Institute of Tasmania to help Hobartians re-imagine their streets on Friday 20 September.

PARKing day is a global event that transforms on-street car parking spaces into other purposes. It could be a mini park with seating, play equipment, outdoor dining, street trees, bike parking or separated cycleways.

The institute’s Young Planners group is organising the event in the “Midtown” area of Elizabeth Street between Melville and Brisbane streets on Elizabeth Street between 9 am and 5 pm.

They are working with businesses to develop activities in car-parking bays and will be talking to passers-by about their thoughts on the transformations.

Bicycle Network will be providing bicycle parking in one of the car spaces near Ken Self Cycles to illustrate the space efficiency of bikes compared to motor vehicles.

Converting car spaces to bike parking

Many cities around the world are converting car spaces to bicycle parking, either to make a statement about the space used by different transport modes, or simply because they need more bike parking!

Research in Lygon Street in Carlton found that while bicycle riders spend less than car drivers per hour, $47 versus $65, bicycle parking takes up less space so that bike riders generate $31 per parking space as opposed to car drivers who generate $6. A car park converted to bicycle parking could easily accommodate six bikes, so could lead to greater benefit for businesses.

A Dutch scheme sees wooden platforms with bicycle parking loops dropped into a car space. The city then monitors the usage of the portable parking and if it proves successful the car space is lost permanently to bike parking. 

The City of Hobart recently received $100,000 in funding from the Australian Government via Andrew Wilkie MP to provide more bike parking around the city centre.

One of the options available is to replicate the Dutch program in Hobart.

Midtown Hobart

The Midtown blocks are the subject of a City of Hobart project to revitalise the area.

Many of the current businesses along the strip were involved in a project team to come up ideas for the street to make it more people friendly.

This is a change from just a few years ago when the proposal for a City of Hobart-sponsored “parklet” for the street could not gain enough support.

The project team recommended removing some on-street car parking to make space for their other suggestions, such as a separated uphill bike lane, street plantings, covered bus stops, and wider footpaths.

The council is due to consider concept designs for the street based on the project team’s recommendations later this year.

Four of the street’s businesses will join the parklets being run by Bicycle Network and the Young Planners, including Ken Self Cycles, The Stagg, and Island Espresso.