Build it and they will come. That's what Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic, says about bike parking, in today's Slate.com. He does have a point. A car driver pretty much assumes that wherever they go, parking will exist. Is it happenstance, American optimism, divine intervention, or just dum luck, that pretty much anywhere you go in America, there will be parking? Well, the answer is just a little below devine. It is government policy. Build anything in America and you have provide parking space for cars. A lot of it, too. So much so, that if you put all that parking in one place, Connecticut would be one big parking lot. No wonder people drive. Cars are pretty much guaranteed free parking, wherever they want to go.
It's not really free, though. It's land that could have other uses, such as trees or grass. Or somebody's house, which would be closer to your's if there wasn't all this free parking in between. Heck people have to drive farther, because of all the space taken up by these parking spaces. Take a look around. Subtract the parking, and there's a whole lot of free space. And we are not even talking about roads. Lot's of costs.
How about some government intervention into a mode of transportation that is actually good for society? It is beginning to happen. Cities are beginning to require commerical builders to include bike parking in their projects. Indoor parking is also becoming available. I'm lucky, that I can bring my bike inside at work, but most cyclists, don't have that option. Give people decent options and they are more likely to ride. As this bike wave rises, better parking will allow it room to grow.
If you haven't read Tom's book, Traffic, check out his blog, How We Drive, to see what you're missing.