The rack at Whole Foods taken by Councilor Downs

On a recent Sunday night, I had a huge parking problem.
My family and I went to Nonantum for dinner at Moldova, but finding a parking spot proved difficult. We ended up finding a place, though I worried about the safety of where it forced my children to go. But, it all managed to work out. 
Oh, did I mention that we all biked? We didn’t find any bike racks in the village and no easy and safe place to put 5 bikes. So we ended up each locked to different poles around Watertown Street, which put my children right against the curb. 
Getting there was fine, as we took some back roads that tend to be quiet. That is until a group of us got to the corner of Watertown and Bridge Street. We needed to take a left, but no cars stopped to let us in (as they would if we were in a vehicle). 
This isn’t the only place with tight bike parking. Earlier this week Councilor Downs tweeted a picture of the parked up rack at Whole Foods (above). On a recent Monday I had had a meeting at Peet’s and the rack out front there, which is squeezed between bushes, had a consistent flow of bikes. The rack at the Newton Centre T station tends to be filled most days, with overflow bikes locked to the nearby fences. The same is true at the high schools, which is why Bike Newton was just awarded a grant to fix the problem. Heading into Day Middle

A bike parked to a support cable at Day Middle School.

School recently I saw bikes locked to just about anything stationary since the bike racks themselves were full.
If we had a car on Sunday, parking wouldn’t have been an issue at all. There were plenty of open spaces, all perfectly free. If one of those spaces had a low-cost bike corral we could have parked—and it may have encouraged others as well.
There’s an opportunity here, of course. If businesses put in the bike infrastructure they’d likely attract cyclists. Some businesses are trying, though I’ve found that many install bike racks incorrectly. The new Auburndale Starbucks is a good example of that, with racks installed so instead of providing parking for 4 bikes, they only have space for 2. Still, they tried. Bike Newton would be a good resource for businesses that want to become more bike friendly.
This isn’t just a niche group. I see more and more bikes around town, all with bags and racks. Recently while traversing Walnut Street during rush hour I counted no less than 15 bikes in the 5 minutes (most looked like commuters) as I moved between Newton Four Corners and Comm Ave.
I know people tend to complain about parking their cars, but maybe, just maybe, if we spent a lot less money and put in some bike infrastructure we could see greater benefits. The people who want to bike will feel that they can, then some additional spaces will free up even as local businesses maintain or increase their customer base. 
Then, if things remain a problem, we can spend the millions of dollars it would take to upgrade our car parking infrastructure. 

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