All the rage in healthy design today is about creating stairs that make you want to walk on them. Promoting active transportation not only saves the building energy costs, but encourages walking something many Americans need to do more of. Making the steps “glamorous” is a great way to bring attention and change peoples behavior.
Can we begin to make active transportation systems feel beautiful as well? COBE architects recently designed a new Norreport Station in Copenhagen, their equivalent to a Union Station. Over 250,000 people use this station daily. In line with the Danish promotion of cycling, the designer’s task was to integrate cyclist considerations into this incredible dense area urban area. Not only did cyclists transportation need to be prioritized, but it had to be beautiful in order to promote it.
To do this the designers focused on how to park bikes. There are sunken bike parking areas that are about a foot lower than sidewalk level. The sunken parking areas make the bike parking feel orderly, though as bikers know too well bike parking can often be chaotic. These beds have created space for 2,500 parking spaces and are a focal point in the design of the station.
Lets compare this to bike parking at the recently finalized 90% design drawings for the Roosevelt Station proposed by Sound Transit. While obviously Seattle does not have the culture around cycling like Copenhagen does, I believe that just means we have to make our “stairs” even more beautiful! While I am so glad that sound transit is including bike parking, it could be improved even more. Currently there are bike racks proposed near the south entry lobby. They are not sexy though! We need to make it seem cooler to bike to the station than it would be to get dropped off in a car! Unfortunately the car drop off zone for the station, it located right in front of the new art plaza. A welcome entryway for anyone reaching the station compared to a single bike rack in a dark corner.
Currently I would rate Roosevelt’s bike parking and infrastructure as “a nice emergency fire stairs.” We can do better!