Sunday, March 09, 2008

Spring means bicycling and baseball


I have many passionate interests. Prominent among these interests are bicycling and baseball, both activities that come to the forefront with the end of long cold winter. Spring's growing warmth and brighter days--today is the start of daylight savings time--always encourages more people to think about bicycling. And, of course, spring means baseball!

Living in San Francisco for most of the past decade, I had the opportunity to bicycle to Pacific Bell Park (then SBC Park, now AT&T Park) and leave my bike with the secure parking staffed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I've long wondered why more baseball franchises haven't offered similar bicycle parking facilities. Especially in California, a hotbed for both bicycling and baseball.

In 2004 during my brief tenure as executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition, I wrote an article for the coalition's newsletter, the CalBike Advocate:

"Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd." Just don't try to ride a bike there. That's the unfortunate reality for fans of most of California's professional baseball teams. While many of the state's major and minor league franchises offer abundant parking for motorists, facilities for bicycling baseball fans are practically nonexistent. Of California's five major league baseball franchises, only one--the San Francisco Giants--offers secure staffed bicycle parking.

At a time when California faces significant challenges with traffic, pollution, energy, and obesity, why aren't the state's professional sports teams doing more to encourage bicycling? What is the responsibility of major traffic-generating enterprises such as ballparks to promote environmentally sustainable transportation options for getting to their facilities? (Read more.)
My article contrasted the bicycling friendly approach of the San Francisco Giants, and the automobile-centered approach of their south state rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. My hope was that the article would prompt bicycle advocates around the state to push their local professional baseball franchises to embrace bikes.
"The Giants should be commended for their commitment to providing diverse transportation options to their ballpark," said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. "More teams could easily set up similar bike parking programs, which aren't expensive, serve numerous patrons, and generate significant goodwill for the franchises. Professional baseball teams are highly visible enterprises that are sensitive to public opinion. I'd encourage bike activists around California to demand their baseball teams do more to provide alternatives, including bicycle access." (Read more.)
In the nearly four years since my article originally appeared, conditions have only gotten more favorable for bike-friendly ballparks: higher gas prices, continued traffic nightmares, expanding waistlines.

My article is also available at SFBike.org, and as a PDF at the California Bicycle Coalition website.

Visit: S.F. Giants: Valet Bike Parking 81 Games Per Year, StreetFilms.org
Visit: San Francisco Giants Offer Valet Bike Parking, Carectomy.com
Visit: Bike Parking at Giants Stadium, CommuterPageBlog.com
Visit: Valet bike parking at PGE Park, Bicycle Transportation Alliance
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
As a Massachusetts native, it goes without saying that I'm a Boston Red Sox fan.
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The new Nationals ballpark in DC offers free valet parking for bicycles.

Robert Daeley said...

Funny you should mention the Dodgers and bicycles:

"Secret Bike Parking at Dodger Stadium?"

"Cycling for the Hit"