Watch above: Saskatoon residents have mixed reviews over the city’s conversion of parking meters to chairs. Wendy Winiewski finds out the purpose of the retrofit and why cyclists are upset.
SASKATOON – For the past decade, Berkley Staite has been cycling Saskatoon and has made it his main mode of transportation. Finding a place to lock his bike is easy on Broadway Avenue where new bike racks were installed.
Staite says many businesses in Riversdale provide racks but there’s one area he frequents that is lacking.
“Downtown is where I really feel the pinch,” said Staite.
Flex-pay parking stations have been installed and the old meters, which double as bike racks, will eventually be removed, decreasing the supply of makeshift bike racks.
At a cost of nearly $22,700 plus GST, the city will retrofit 45 old parking meter posts to bike racks. Fifteen will be full stations, including a table top and a fold-down seat.
“I don’t know about the utility of a seat and a table,” said Staite.
“I’ve gotten by, to this point, without those things. There’s enough benches and landings to kind of perch on if you need them.”
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The cost of the retrofit falls within the city’s capital budget – therefore, approval from city council, is not necessary. Coun. Randy Donauer believes the money could be spent elsewhere.
“I think there’s more of a call for us to have some sidewalk patios downtown. I’d support more park and green spaces in the downtown, more amenities,” Donauer said.
“Whether people are saying ‘hey I want to go flip down a seat right on the curb of a busy downtown street and sit there’ I don’t see that there’s a need for that,” he explained, clarifying though that he supports the bike racks without the tabletop and fold-down seat.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to sit on a seat and check your tire pressure as opposed to kneeling on the ground and checking your tire pressure,” questioned Alan Wallace, the city’s manager of planning and development.
“This is just a creative solution.”
If the racks are well received, more could be retrofitted so the city is retaining the 1,500 old parking meter posts in the meantime.
Donauer believes that’s unnecessary.
“I think that we should just look at this logically. How many bike parking stations should we have in the downtown and other bids, and leave those ones in,” said Donauer, who believes the remainder should be removed to tidy up the downtown.
Old posts will remain at least until the pilot project concludes next fall.