Lexington Center is about to get a little bit more bicycle-friendly, thanks to a new pilot parking program taking effect this weekend.
Starting this Saturday, May 19, the pilot program will temporarily convert one automobile parking space at 1720 Massachusetts Ave. into a space reserved for 15 to 20 bicycles. That bike parking space will be available to the public on weekends through Oct. 28, according to an announcement from the town.
“The pilot offers Lexington Center a great new public amenity which complements the town’s well-used bike path and draws more people and economic activity into our Center,” Melisa Tintocalis, the town’s director of Economic Development, said in a press release.
This parking space involved in the pilot program is located roughly in front of , a hybrid bicycleand coffee shop. Employees there have been talking about asking for a space in front of the store to be reserved for bicycle parking for a while now.
According to Tintocalis, those conversations were held concurrently to wider discussions about the future vision of Lexington Center and how to make the Mass Ave corridor more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. A few locations were considered for the pilot program, and this space was chosen for reasons including access to Lexington Center businesses and the nearby .
From the town’s press release:
The town’s Economic Development and Planning Departments, in collaboration with the Department of Public Works, local businesses, and the town’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, developed the pilot program as a way to make the Center more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, increase business activity, and encourage alternative modes of transportation. The pilot is modeled after a growing national trend known as “parklets” where municipalities create new public spaces by repurposing certain streets and parking spaces into outdoor seating and bicycle parking areas.
According to Peggy Enders of the Bike Committee, the first bicycle corral in this location was erected as a result of bike tours co-sponsored b the Bike Committee and Ride.Studio.Cafe last May. At that time, organizers realized the corral was busy all day with other cyclists taking advantage of the extra parking.
“The Bike Committee is delighted that the Selectmen have approved this pilot program,” Enders wrote in an email to Patch. “The decision by the Selectmen, and the willingness of the DPW to set up and dismantle this special parking corral each weekend this summer, is much appreciated by the bike community. … Thanks to the Planning Office, the Economic Development Office, and the DPW for their hard work in making this possible. Lexington is becoming a much more bike-friendly community.”
Enders also noted the first weekend of the pilot coincides with this year’s , scheduled for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 19.
According to Jerry Michelson, chairman of the Lexington Center Committee, the committee feels that the pilot for the bicycle parking is the proper way to test this idea.
"On the weekends in Lexington Center there is a tremendous amount of bicycle traffic, and most rack are overflowing," Michelson wrote in an email to Patch. "The peak demand for auto parking is lunch hours on Thursday and Friday. On the weekends employee parking demand is less because most offices are closed and service related businesses, ie banks, close early. So coupling the lower demand for autos plus the increase activity with bikes, this should be a successful tradeoff for the initial pilot and could lead to a few other converted spaces to be in play."