Kingston cyclists will soon be able to feel a little safer taking their bikes downtown.
That is, 18 cyclists at any given time will be able to feel safer as the city moves forward with it’s secure bike parking pilot project.
The company Urban Racks has installed the 18 parking units, and they will be operated through the app Bikeep.
Kingston will be the first Ontario city to install the hub, following in the footsteps of Vancouver who have also implemented parking hubs operated by Bikeep and have seen it make a positive impact.
The hub has been placed near the intersection of Ontario Street and Princess Street, taking the place of three parking spots on Princess Street directly east of Pan Chancho restaurant.
Executive Director of Downtown Kingston BIA Marijo Cuerrier says while taking the place of three parking spaces has been a bit of a talking point, there wasn’t tremendous pushback against it.
Ultimately, this space can now service 18 people rather than 3 vehicles.
“I wouldn’t say a fight, I think it’s definitely a talking point depending on who you talk to,” Cuerrier said.
“The reality is it’s 18 new spots for cyclists that maybe don’t come down here because of the security of their bike and going forward, downtown Kingston will only become more and more of a pedestrianized, active transportation area.”
The installation comes with a bill of roughly $50,000, with about half coming from a Tourism Kingston grant and the rest covered by the municipality.
Cuerrier says it’s a small step to encourage active transportation that falls in line with the city’s vision.
“It’s right in line with what the municipality has promised to do with their last strategic plan,” Cuerrier said.
“Which is to improve active transportation and be leaders in the environmental improvement of the earth.”
As bike theft has continued to be rampant in Kingston, especially in the downtown core, the city has taken steps like adopting Garage 529 to help easier reunite cyclists with their stolen bike.
Theft remains common in the city however, and even some of the most reliable locks have failed cyclists at times.
Cuerrier says with the way the units work in tandem with Bikeep, stealing a locked up bike would be too onerous a process for almost anyone.
“It’s almost impossible to get a bike out of there,” Cuerrier said.
“You still have to be smart about it… the short answer is they’re highly secure.”
She added that while a pilot was forced to be put on pause in 2020, she’s hopeful the next step in promoting active transportation as soon as 2024 will be adding bike share options to the city like those seen in cities like Montreal.
The official launch date of the hubs has not yet been made public but is expected to in the coming days.