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Dec 03

Does Bicycling Belong at Riverport?

The Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative-South is located on the 2nd floor of the Riverport Parking Garage in downtown South Bethlehem.  The garage services the general public parking downtown, the Starters Riverport Pub & Grillhouse, Steel Fitness Riverport and the Lehigh Riverport Condominium Association (see map).  

Our thanks to the Lehigh Riverport Condominium Association & their Property Manager, Marilyn Lalley, plus the Bethlehem Parking Authority & BPA Director, Tom Hartley, for allowing CAT/CAR-FREE.ORG to try to bring professional bicycle programming to Riverport and South Bethlehem.  Without the support of the community a small charity such as ours can not hope to survive and contribute back to the community.

Here are the services CAT/CAR-FREE.ORG currently provides at Riverport:

1.  The Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative-South, on the second floor of  the Riverport Parking Garage.  The BBC-South offers Bicycle Education ClassesBicycle Heaven Rides and the Bicycle Library program.  The BBC is open Thursday evenings from 5-9PM and Saturdays from 8AM-4PM.

2. The Master Mechanic Bike Shop (run by Frank Pavlick) on the third floor of the parking garage.  Frank oversees all bicycle mechanic activities, establishing the protocols for bicycle recycling, the bicycle library, bicycle education events and the mechanic classes.  

3.  We offer bicycle recycling to the public and recycling of recovered bicycles to more than a dozen municipal/police organizations using the impound lot next to the parking garage.

4.  Supportive services, primarily cleaning and “Eyes and Ears” presence throughout the parking garage and the area surrounding the Riverport facility.  Right now these services include one hour every Saturday picking up all the garbage in the parking garage and around the Riverport facility.  We also provide a garbage container with liner at the entrance to the Condominiums on the second floor (location of the BBC-South) which requires emptying three times a week.  If the BBC-South is working effectively, this effort would increase because the BBC attracts volunteers from the school district community service program.  This location could definitely use some help to remain clean and pleasant for all users.

Unfortunately, because we were forced to move suddenly from our previous location and the BPA was kind enough to let us move in before we had agreed on a lease or knew what we would need to sustain a bike cooperative at our new location, two issues have arisen that prevent us from operating effectively.  

We appreciate Marilyn Lalley and Tom Hartley agreeing to meet with CAR-FREE.ORG Director, Steve Schmitt and CAT Treasurer, Anne Connors on Wednesday, December 5 at 2PM at the Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative-South on the second floor of the Riverport Parking Garage to discuss the future of bicycle programming at Riverport.  Interested members of the Lehigh Riverport Condominium Association and CAT/CAR-FREE.ORG are invited to comment on this blog and/or to attend this meeting.

*Here are the two issues to be addressed in order to keep the Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative-South at Riverport:

  • Bicycle Parking: There is no bicycle parking currently within sight of  the Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative-South.  Although there are many parking places for cars close by, all of these spaces are leased by the Condo Association and reserved for the people living in the condominiums.  We are hopeful that the Condo Association will consider renting us one of the spaces close to the BBC-South for the monthly fee now paid by the Association to the BPA.  By placing two 12-bike racks in one parking place we can accommodate 24 bicycles in one car parking slot.  When we did have two racks in a space close to the BBC, there were four or five bikes that belonged to members of the Condo association parked in the racks.  These racks were removed.  If we do not have bicycle parking close to the BBC-South we will not be able to accommodate any groups arriving at the BBC by bicycle for Riding in Traffic /Bicycle Mechanic Classes or Bicycle Heaven Rides.  Without bike parking that directs bikes away from the front of the BBC, the hallway between the parking garage and the Condos will be blocked by bicycles when the BBC becomes busy.
  • Signage directing the public to the BBC-South: right now CAT/CAR-FREE.ORG members report they can not find the BBC-South.  Very few members of the public are dropping by the bike cooperative because its location is out of the way and difficult to promote.  We need to have a way for people who are on 2nd Street to find our facility.  One idea: put painted markings on the concrete leading from the street to the BBC-South using stencils that looks like this

If the Parking Authority and the Condo Association can help us find a way to have meaningful bicycle parking near the BBC-South and a way to help people find the bike cooperative we can keep the BBC-South open.  Without bicycle parking we can’t operate; without directional signage we can’t make enough money to pay the bills or help enough cyclists to justify the costs of operation.

There are no issues right now affecting the operation of the Master Mechanic Bicycle Shop.  This shop does not require bicycle parking or promotion to the public as it serves primarily as an internal shop for all CAR-FREE.ORG bicycle activities.  We hope to keep this facility on the third floor even if we must close the BBC-South on the second floor.

There are no issues that we are aware of affecting the use of the impound lot for bicycle recycling.  However, it is not mentioned in the lease and our use of the lot was okayed only verbally by a BPA supervisor, so we think it appropriate to discuss how we intend to use this lot with BPA and Condo representatives and to have appropriate language in a new lease should there be a need for one.

Depending upon the outcome of the meeting Wednesday, December 5, we hope to craft a new lease with the Bethlehem Parking Authority.  If we must close the Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative-South, we plan to do so quickly.  Whatever fees the Condominium Association and Bethlehem Parking Authority feels are appropriate for whatever space we would be using will be included in this new lease and paid on time.  Any fees the BPA decides are appropriate for space used prior to the new lease will be paid, too.  We ask that we be given time to make  payments on the rent for November 14 of this year through January 14 of next year considering our losses/costs caused by moving our bike cooperative, our inability to operate because of the issues outlined above and further problems associated with recent weather related events.  

Other issues of interest for consideration:

The bike rack at the entrance to the parking garage near Steel Fitness is obsolete and dangerous for bicycles.  We encourage the BPA to remove this rack and replace it with the one now located at the opposite side of the first level.

Smoking in the facility.  Some smokers, trying to avoid smoking on the condominium side of the building, stand just outside the entrance to the condos from the parking garage.  On the second level, these smokers are standing right outside our door to the BBC-South.  We encourage the BPA to post no smoking signs at this location.

Speeding cars-a few motorists drive much too fast in the parking garage.  Some parking garages have installed video surveillance with devices that capture data about speed.

Power wash-we could supply the labor to operate power wash equipment to clean some of the deck each week if BPA provides the equipment and the water source.

*On December 10, 2012, the Lehigh Riverport Condominium Association formally rejected CAT/CAR-FREE.ORG’s request to lease any one parking spot on the second or third floor of the Riverport Parking Garage effectively ending the possibility of our operating a bike cooperative in the parking garage.  The Association also prohibited us from having a garbage container in the garage, from posting no smoking signs around the BBC or painting directional signage anywhere in the garage.  It is our intention to move the Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative from the Riverport Parking Garage to 1935 West Broad Street (BBC West) by January 14.

Fortunately the Bethlehem Parking Authority is going to allow us to continue to use the space for a mechanic shop for Frank Pavlick, storage for tables, chairs, banners and other stuff we need for bike education events and monitored bike parking at South Bethlehem Festivals. We don’t need any of the things we asked for from the Condo Association to maintain that presence. Also, the BPA is allowing us to use their Riverport impound lot as a drop-off point for the large shipments of recovered bikes we get from a number of police/municipal organizations across the region.

4 pings

  1. Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative eNews – Sat. Dec. 15th 2012 | CAR-FREE CAT - Coalition for Appropriate Transportation

    [...]  Does Bicycling Belong at Riverport? [...]

  2. December CAR-FREE eNews | CAR-FREE CAT - Coalition for Appropriate Transportation

    [...] Does Bicycling Belong at Riverport? [...]

  3. January 2013 CAR-FREE eNews | CAR-FREE CAT - Coalition for Appropriate Transportation

    [...] Does Bicycling Belong at Riverport? [...]

  4. January 21, 2013 CAR-FREE Leadership Meeting Minutes | CAR-FREE CAT - Coalition for Appropriate Transportation

    [...] Does Bicycling Belong at Riverport? [...]

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