Thanks to the resounding passage of Measure M in November 2016, final planning for the next Foothill Gold Line Extension to Claremont is well underway, with the popular project slated to be among the first to be constructed under the new funding source.
Given the project timeline and ongoing efforts to finalize station design for the 5 project cities (Glendora, La Verne, San Dimas, Pomona, and Claremont), now is a particularly opportune moment to review the pros/cons of the existing Gold Line station design and first-mile/last-mile access for people on foot/bike, and hopefully improve upon it for the $1 billion + final leg to the LA County border.
Existing Station Parking (For Cars and Bikes)
When the Gold Line extension to Azusa opened in March 2016 the new line's popularity was quickly overshadowed by a perception that there was a severe shortage of free automobile parking. Frustrated 210 commuters found that station parking along the line's eastern-most stations (Azusa, Irwindale) was reaching capacity at 7am or even earlier on weekdays. Lost amidst the discussion was the high cost of "free" station parking; in an elevated structure, parking spaces typically cost Metro $25,000+ a piece, with underground parking running $35,000+ per space. With 1,437 parking spaces built in structures between Arcadia and Azusa, the ballpark cost of the line's free parking alone was over $35 million (1,437 x $25,000), not counting ongoing maintenance costs to Metro, or the opportunity costs of using valuable station adjacent land for other purposes such as mixed use, transit-friendly, residential housing with some parking, especially in the midst of a major housing crisis (e.g., see South Pasadena station).
At the same time car parking pandemonium was breaking out, local demand for paid, secure bicycle parking was also exceeding supply. Metro "bike lockers"- available at some Foothill Gold Line stations and all 6 of the new extension stations - cost $24 every 6 months, plus a $50 key deposit fee. In comparison to automobile parking, bicycle locker parking is a relative bargain, costing approximately $3,500 per stainless steel unit, making the total investment for the 144 lockers along the Acadia-Azusa extension $504,000.
The below table outlines secure capacity, usage, and waitlists for Gold Line Bike Parking as of December 2016.
With the exception of Irwindale and Duarte stations, every station that currently provides paid, secure bicycle locker parking was at capacity in December 2016, with 144 persons waiting for spaces to open up. These numbers also do not account for existing stations that offer secure parking, many others do not, including South Pasadena, Filmore, Del Mar, Lake, and Allen stations. Given these stations proximity to residential communities with relatively high bicycle modal share vis-a-vis more suburban communities along to Azusa, it is conceivable that there is latent demand for secure station bicycle parking at these stations. The lack of secure bicycle parking at these stations, and reported rates of theft of bikes parked at standard station U-racks, is also why local groups such as the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition have made retrofitting these stations with secure, paid bike parking a priority project.
Planned Glendora-Claremont Station Parking
According to the Gold Line Construction Authority's planning figures (page 4) for the Claremont/Montclair extension, new stations in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, and Montclair would provide over three times the amount of station car parking (5,080 spaces) than across the 6 stations along the Arcadia to Azusa segment, 5 of which would be new multi-story parking structures:
The ballpark cost of 3,480 new structure spaces: $87 million dollars, assuming a $25,000 per space cost.
Existing Gold Line extension planning documents do not state if triple the secure bicycle parking is also planned for the next 6 stations, only that station bicycle parking will meet Metro required standards. As the bicycle locker table underlines, demand for paid, secure bicycle parking is high across the Gold Line corridor, underlining the need for additional capacity. Given the large university student populations in several of the Claremont/Montclair extension cities, we expect demand for such facilities to be even higher than in cities like Irwindale (population 1,400) and Duarte. Secure bicycle parking facilities would not per se have to be entirely in the form of lockers, either, with other options such as card-access bicycle cages such as the one pictured below serving as a lower cost, higher security alternative.
These types of facilities could also be retrofitted into existing parking structures at stations with long locker waitlists (e.g., Arcadia, APU stations), or stations that current do not provide any secure bicycle parking (e.g., South Pasadena, Filmore stations). Another opportunity worth consideration is relocating some of the lockers at stations with excess capacity (e.g., Irwindale station) to Gold Line stations with long waitlists, as well as introducing at least some walk-up, secure bike parking options similar to those used by UCLA.
Given the many health, environmental, financial and equity impacts of constructing bike and automobile parking along transit lines, BikeSGV staff and volunteers will be attending the next Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority Board Meeting to make the case for smart bicycle parking in the project's final phase. If you are interested in this issue, we strongly encourage you to join us at the meeting, or submit comments via email to board clerk Chris Lowe (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Issue in Numbers
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