Props to the Walker for their Bike Parking!

[Almost totally hip and futuristic[
As a cyclist and sidewalk philosopher, it's always really nice to see influential institutions setting trends in our Twin Cities, doing visionary things to push the rest of the urban pack ahead into the future. 
So I wanted to give some shout out props to the Walker Art Center's semi-new redesign for putting so much bike parking conveniently right near the entrance to their brand new museum extension. Parking is one of the things that is a real clear head-and-shoulders advantage for biking, and so having ample parking near the door really sends a clear signal to cyclists (and non-cyclists) that "Yes! Bikes belong!" Having parking near the door says, "We welcome you, cyclists. We appreciate you and want to make sure we're doing everything we can to make your life easier, more pleasant, and more comfortable.".

Thank you Walker Art Center! You're leading the way!

Well, maybe I'm exaggerating just a tad. Maybe we shouldn't give them soooo much credit. After all, biking to the Walker only makes all kinds of sense. The Walker is right in the heart of the Twin Cities' cycling community, located extremely close to Downtown, Loring Park, Uptown, and all the biking bikers that live in the area between Franklin and Lake, and Hennepin and Nicollet.

Plus, the Walker is located smack dab on the busiest, most congested (freeway-horrible) place in the entire city: the "corner" of Hennepin, Lyndale and I-94, just over the Lowry Hill Tunnel. That corner is almost always choked with traffic. Also, its very hard to find parking there! So, it only makes sense that the museum would want to encourage alternative modes of transportation, and put their bike parking in a convenient place by the front door. Not to mention the fact that the Walker is certainly trying to appeal to young, hip, artsy people, trying to move past their elderly and wealthy Warhol demographic and attract a new generation of art lovers. So, I guess it only makes perfect sense that they'd try cater to the new bike-friendly generation, to people who love riding bikes in Minneapolis, and who love art at the same time. Of course they'd want to embrace people on bikes!

[The Walker Art Center bike parking, conveniently located next to the semi truck.]
Oh, hold on.

Hold on. I'm just being told that the Walker extension bike parking is NOT by the door. [adjusting radio earpiece] I'm being told that the bike parking is behind the building, next to the loading dock with semi-trucks, nowhere near a door or entrance to the building, completely out of sight from anywhere, difficult to find. I'm being told that the new Walker bike parking kind of sucks.

Hm. Ok. My apologies, readers! Please disregard the first part of this post. I seem to have been misinformed. 

Well, that's too bad. Hm. (Once again, my optimism is out of control!)

On the other hand, I don't want to get too upset. I can understand the Walker's decision process here. It's not like there's very much space along Hennepin Avenue for bike parking. I mean, where would you even put it? It'd be one thing if they had huge concrete plazas along the sidewalk where you could easily put bike racks by the door. But, as it is, it's hard to see how they could possibly shoehorn a bike rack or two over near the entrance. There's just not enough space (what with all the symbolic circles of grass and important symbolic non-cluttered window'd facade space required for easy architectural advertising from people passing by in their cars on their way to the I-94 entrance ramp)! 

Oh well, Walker Art Center. There's always next expansion.

[The cramped congested sidewalk space outside the Walker entrance.]

[How would they shoehorn a bike rack in here? We need a 21st future century innovative cutting edge design solution design!]


Reuben Collins said...

lol, well that's pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

Former WAC staffer here. The rack you point out is mostly for staff, who use that rear entrance to go through security.

There is prominent bike parking near the Vineland entrance, right off Vineland Place, across from the Sculpture Garden. During prime biking season, that is how most people enter the building.

They've been experimenting with parking in various places over the years. I believe they put more out during the summer. And you might want to give them some props for having tons of bike parking during Rock the Garden.

Bill Lindeke said...

i don't want to argue. that's a fine list of reasons and stuff.

my only thought is that, that's never how I enter the building. that's probably how most people driving their car and parking in the lots enter the building. i'd say the new entrance is the one more accesible to cyclists coming from loring park or from the bike path along lyndale, that they're more likely to use.

Janne said...

Thank you, thank you for voicing (more wonderfully than I ever could have) what I've been saying ever since that expansion was built.

I've written on comment cards to the Walker, I've suggested better placement to staffers, and the response is, "Well, there's parking out back."

Yeah, that really suggests I'm welcome. I think they would rather I paid to park in the ramp. Or didn't come.

So, even though I live all of eight blocks away, I don't go. 'Cause I'm not welcome. Or so it seems.

I can't wait until they realize that *I* am who they want to come, and that it'll take $1000 of investment to invite me in. $2000 if they want it to be an art installation invitation.

Anonymous said...

I am an avid cyclist who frequents the WAC. I have never thought about their placement of bike parking until I read your article. And I totally agree with you!

That being said, designers and artists think differently in terms of aesthetics than the average joe shmoe. It's possible that staff was also respecting the architect's aesthetics, keeping the front clutter-free as he intended, as silly as it may sound.

it should be noted that they also hide their car parking.

instead of hating on an organization that has ample bike parking on two sides of it's building, it may be worth calling out organizations that offer no bike parking at all.


Jim Y. said...

So how 'bout a real "props" post for those places that really do try to attract bikers? I could nominate my favorite - the new Pizza Luce in St. Louis Pk. They prior restaurant in that building (Baker's Square) totally ignored the bike trail running right next to their business. I suppose doing something special with one restaurant didn't fit their corporate plans. After years of slowly dying trade, they gave up and moved out.

In comes Pizza L., they put in a bunch of bike parking not to mention the new outdoor dining pattio and an indoor/outdoor bar. Needless to say, the last time I was there, it looked like pizza will be on the menu for a long time to come. The place was humming with people and almost every bike rack had a bike on it.

If you build it ...