Catering to Cyclists

A new trend in apartment development seems to be targeting the cycling crowd. From a story in the Wall Street Journal:

Seattle’s Velo building in Fremont is built right off the Burke-Gilman bike and recreation trail. Opening this weekend, the 171-unit building, like Vélo North Loop, takes its name from the French word for bicycle (the two buildings are unrelated). It offers a bike-maintenance area as well as a bike wash and storage, both in the garage and on the main level. Apartments will also have bike-storage niches.

Jim Atkins, chief operating officer and managing director of Mack Urban, Velo Fremont’s developer, says the building was built with wider hallways and doorways so residents can wheel their bikes to and from their units. Lobby fabrics and floor materials were chosen in part because they could withstand wear from bike tires. Even the artwork in the building has a cycling theme.

Rents in the building range from $1,600 for one-bedroom apartments to $2,495 for two-bedrooms. Mr. Atkins estimates that 85% of renters will be bringing bikes.

Nationally, commuting by bike grew by 62% between 2000 and 2013 in the U.S., according to the League of American Bicyclists. In 2002, there were seven bike-sharing programs world-wide offering subscription-based, short-term bike rentals, according to MetroBike, a bike-sharing consultancy. Today, there are 750…

In some cities, bike infrastructure is prompting real-estate development. Many of the newest luxury apartment and condo buildings in Minneapolis are rising along the city’s Midtown Greenway, a 5½-mile-long bike and pedestrian trail converted from an abandoned rail corridor. Soren Jensen, the executive director of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, says that historically, buildings in the area were constructed with main entrances facing vehicular roadways.

You might think that this doesn’t apply here in the Piedmont Triad, but Greensboro’s Greenway is already generating interest from developers – in fact one of the stops on this year’s PTAA Bus Tour was the Greenway at Fisher Park – and Winston-Salem has a greenway that is partially developed. In fact you’d be hard pressed to find a municipality that doesn’t have the development of walking/biking infrastructure as part of its comprehensive plan. Add to that the demographic trends we’re seeing and catering to the cycling community starts to make all kinds of sense.