Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), wrote an interesting piece for Slate titled What Would Get Americans Biking to Work? (Decent parking).
Bicycle parking is an overlooked, and often serious problem in many places where bicycle use is on the rise. Even in world-famous bike-friendly cities such as Copenhagen, bike parking is not meeting demand. From the article:
Of course, even in a bicycling paradise like Copenhagen, bicycle parking is hardly ideal. “Parking is the last great challenge in a bike culture,” as Mikael Colville-Andersen, who writes the Copenhagenize blog, told me. In its 2004 “Traffic and Environment Plan,” the city of Copenhagen, noting that bike parking wasn’t even assessed until 2001 (when it was found there were 2,900 spaces in the historic center), declared: “Only one third of cyclists are satisfied with their options for parking their bicycles and other road users, particularly walkers, are increasingly annoyed by parked cycles.”
Bike commuting rates have been directly linked to the availability of secure bike parking, so it’s imperative that bike parking is given serious consideration along with other infrastructure improvements. In many cities across the country, bicycle parking is not tied to the actual number of potential bike commuters in the area, so availability can be extremely spotty. Fortunately, we’re starting to see a few cities look at the problem more seriously, with Portland leading the way (no surprise). Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Los Angeles (among others) also have plans in the works to improve their bike parking facilities.
As important as it is, bike parking is only one piece in the bike commuting puzzle. We also need more and better separated facilities, comprehensive training programs, better integration with transit, and work-related transportation benefits on the level of what we see for motorists and transit riders.