U.S. pedals toward more bike-friendly digs

Rose Barcklow

Rose Barcklow works on her bike in a designated room at her apartment complex in Denver. The complex, called Solera, is uber-bike-friendly. / Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

In 21st-century America, a 19th-century invention — the bicycle — is figuring more and more in the calculations of apartment hunters and others looking for suitable digs.

Bike commuting is on the rise in places such as Portland, Ore., and many other cities, studies show, and as the number has grown, so has the need for bike-friendly housing.

Many apartment complexes are offering secure storage spaces for bikes. Some developers are even putting bike repair shops in apartment buildings.

“I decided to live without a car, to take the leap,” said 31-year-old Rose Barcklow, who lives in a Denver apartment that gives her easy access to the bike lanes she takes on her 7-mile commute to work.

Her apartment complex, “Solera,” is super-bike-friendly. Barcklow doesn’t have to lug her two bikes up to her apartment because there’s a secure storage area for two-wheelers, and she makes use of the “velo room” — a tool-equipped workshop where she can pump up her tires, clean her chain and fix a flat.

Chris Archer, assistant project manager for Zocalo Community Development in Denver, said the developer’s next project, a 231-unit apartment complex, will have a bike repair room that includes multiple bike repair stands, a wide range of tools and lots of bike storage space.

Bike-friendly amenities are a big draw for potential residents, Archer said.

“Most folks who move in are very green-minded,” he said.

What is bike-friendly housing?

If you’re a cyclist who owns a house, you can do pretty much whatever it takes: Put your bike in the cellar or in a locked garage to keep it secure. Build shelves or a cabinet to store helmets, cycling shoes, spare tubes, tires, tools and other gear.

If you don’t own your own house, not to worry. An increasing number of apartment buildings are thinking about how they can meet your needs.

In Portland, the collective voice of cyclists is louder that in many other American cities. In the last several years, Oregon’s largest city has built a network of bike lanes, bike paths and streets designated with “sharrows”— arrow-like symbols painted to remind motorists they share the road with cyclists. Each morning, thousands of Portland cyclists commute to work. All of this has helped earn the city a reputation as one of the most cyclist-friendly in America .

North Portland, across the Willamette River from downtown, is emblematic of Portland’s green and bike-catering nature. On North Williams Avenue, within a few blocks of each other, are a guest house, a bar and an apartment complex that all cater to cyclists, plus the United Bicycle Institute, which offers classes on bike repair. All are located on a major bike commuter route.

To the north of Portland, Seattle is also developing a bike-friendly reputation, with thousands of cyclists sharing the streets with motorists.

Matt Griffin is managing partner with the Pine Street Group, which is building a 654-unit apartment complex that caters to bike-riding tenants .

The complex will have 240 secure stalls for bike storage as well as men’s and women’s showers and locker rooms.

Non-tenant bike commuters can join a club that gives them access to those facilities.

“We really wanted to be a hub for people who want to commute to work,” said Griffin.

“Blkes are a good way to get around Seattle.”



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