Ride Wit Me (to work), Downtown St. Louis Gets Bike Commuter Station

Before the year is out, downtown St. Louis will have the region's first bicycle commuting station. The station, located at the northwest corner of 10th and Locust, will have space for 100 bicycles and feature men's and women's locker rooms and shower facilities. A fee of about $150 will give members 24/7 access. As with Metro, it's possible that employers and other organizations could offer discounts and weekly or monthly options may be introduced.

The Downtown Bike Center was the brainchild of Rob Maltby while he interned at EcoUrban. Craig Heller and Loftworks are playing a significant role as well by managing the build-out of the 2,000 square foot retail space. A local bike shop is eyeing a retail location next door. Currently, the nearest shops are Mesa, Maplewood, Big Shark and Southside Cyclery, all just more than seven miles from downtown.

The City of St. Louis successfully identified and received $180K of funding through the Department of Energy to build out and operate the station. The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis will provide additional funding. Support is currently in place for two years while future funding will need to be sought. It's unclear who will manage and operate the bike station.

Cycling in St. Louis hasn't looked so good since ShaverSport's David Sommers cruised the riverfront. It would be wonderful to see the St. Louis cycling community take a significant role in managing the bike station. Cycling isn't difficult to understand, but like any specialty sport or retail segment, it does require people who know and live the activity to successfully manage it.

Amenities such as bike station only pay off with longevity. A community cannot fully utilize, or form around, any amenity if its future is in doubt or poorly managed. Maybe it's the straw that tips a couple people in favor of living or working downtown, but the goal must be to have the bike station be a long term, reliable, predictable downtown resource. Both the Mayor's office and the Partnership have stated their commitment to identify future funding.

{location of the downtown bike station – 10th and Locust}

Although the City's press release stated the bike station would be two blocks from a MetroLink stop, I count four: two blocks north and two blocks west from the 8th and Pine stop. No matter how you count, the location would be an excellent permanent home for the bike station as it's centrally located downtown, near MetroLink and on the potential Northside-Southside MetroLink line.

"We are building a City that provides an attractive way of life. After World War II, the car was a symbol of freedom. For some people today, it is just the opposite," said Mayor Slay in a release statement. That's certainly a welcome sentiment and the bike station is a big step toward supporting multi-modal transit downtown. The station's success will depend on flexible management that adapts to demand as the St. Louis community learns how to utilize its new amenity.